Should it be GNU/Linux
Posted Mar 23, 2007 12:19 UTC (Fri) by man_ls
In reply to: GNU/Busybox ?!?
Parent article: The road to freedom in the embedded world
Your original message pretended that the FSF wanted to rename the kernel, and implied that they were somehow using coercion via the GPL to get there. Nonsense. Now you want to discuss if they have any right to name the operating system, fine, let's discuss it once more, but this time with concrete numbers.
First, the embedded field is not the primary focus of Stallman or the FSF, as you may or not have guessed. It plays a growing part in their concerns however.
IMHO it is reasonable for the FSF to ask people to use the name "GNU/Linux"; after all, it was Stallman who came out with the idea of a libre, complete operating system, and they are the only ones providing it: GlibC, GCC, Emacs, Bash, Core- and FileUtils and GNOME; with the known exception of the kernel. Counting all of these makes out for a reasonably large portion of GNOME-based distros such as Ubuntu Linux.
Many of the software packages you mention are either alternatives or not part of the operating system, but whatever, let's compare them. All in all the GNU project is probably the largest software provider in most GNU/Linux distributions, with at least 15 million lines of code, vs 8 for OpenOffice, 6 for Linux, 4 for KDE and 3 for Mozilla. Yes, I have counted them.
As others have pointed out, the amount of software provided by the FSF is dwindling with time, since other large packages are being added to most distributions. That can only be seen as a good thing, and the FSF doesn't seem to worry about that. Again, more important than the quantity of software is the fact that GNU is the only project willing to develop (not just distribute) a complete operating system. They have provided the necessary pieces of infrastructure that nobody else cared about. (Once Landley's GNU-less project is released we can revisit this discussion if you want.) Linux itself has already been replaced.
So the answer for me is a resounding yes on three counts: history, numbers and necessity say that it is reasonable for the GNU project to get a mention in the complete system name. Now if only popularity is to be measured, as you seem to imply, then GNU should indeed be disregarded.
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