Should it be GNU/Linux
Posted Mar 23, 2007 18:30 UTC (Fri) by landley
In reply to: Should it be GNU/Linux
Parent article: The road to freedom in the embedded world
> 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...
Ok, let's go to http://www.ibiblio.org/jmaynard/ and read the bit right
above the download link:
> This site contains copies of distribution tapes, other source and
> object code libraries, and pregenerated, runnable distributions of IBM
> public domain software written for the System/360 and System/370
> mainframe computers.
> All of the software on this site is in the public domain. IBM, by
> corporate policy, does not assert copyright ownership of any software
> which it distributed without copyright notices. US copyright law, until
> 1978, placed such materials in the public domain.
I repeat my earlier assertion that for most of the 1970's proprietary
software wasn't even an issue on the hobbyist programmer community's
radar. When Gates did his "letter to hobbyists" in 1976 the response was
essentially to laugh it off. The Lyons book was published before anyone
knew if it was even legally possible to copyright source code, which was
made explicit by a new law passed in 1979, and whether or not that
copyright extension covered binaries wasn't settled until Apple sued
Franklin over the ROM images in its' Apple II clones in 1983. (So
between 1979 and 1983 if you wanted to be sure copyright covered your
work you made darn sure to distribute source code with prominent
Which gets us back to "the FSF wasn't being visionary, it was being
reactionary and conservative from day 1".
> Linux itself has already been replaced.
Plus existence of BSD and MacOSX and the Posix certifications of Windows
NT and OS/360...
Closer to home, Shawn Jackman built a subset of the BusyBox applets under
newlib+libgloss in 2005, running against the bare metal with no
underlying OS kernel.
What Linux pioneered was modern open source collaborative development
through the internet with release early/release often and all that jazz.
And he's pioneered scaling that mode with a driver maintainers layer
between the project's leader and the developers, and then it went to a
four-layer thing with the lieutenants (essentially subsystem maintainers
above the driver maintainers). Plus being the first project to apply a
modern distributed source control system to open source development.
The Cathedral and the Bazaar was a paper about how Linus's working style
differed from that of the FSF. (The cathedral was specifically the FSF.)
The FSF benefitted from the internet but Linux was the first development
project predicated on taking full advantage of it from day one. (The FSF
insisted on physical copyright assignments with a signature on a piece of
paper, and still do. Linus often merges over a hundred patches in a day,
that kind of bureaucracy just wouldn't work.)
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