Posted Mar 28, 2007 10:43 UTC (Wed) by greve
In reply to: GNU/Busybox ?!?
Parent article: The road to freedom in the embedded world
Wait, you're saying that GNU/Whatever was all just tongue in cheek?
No, I did not say it was all just tounge in cheek.
I was not personally involved in that decision, so take this with a grain of salt, please:
To my understanding, a major reason the FSF (there was no FSFE at the time) began talking about GNU/Linux was that in the second half of the 90s many newcomers to Free Software only heard about "Linux" and were not making contact with the GNU Project and its philosophical and scientific roots anymore.
Forgetting these roots is dangerous. It makes it impossible to see the full picture when having to make a decision about our projects or just our personal use of software. The result are bad decisions that sometimes affect only ourselves, and sometimes affect the entire community.
A less important reason was that there were GNU reference manuals, books, mouse pads and mugs being published that called themselves "Linux reference" even though they had no relation with the kernel. I think that every programmer should be able to emphasise with this situation. Yes, considering the amount of work and dedication that had gone into the GNU Project, the FSF was indeed unhappy about this development and sought to change it.
In order to serve both goals while not making the mistake of claiming recognition for someone else's work, RMS came up with the "GNU+Linux" or "GNU/Linux" names.
RMS even seems to give preference to the admittedly more cumbersome "GNU+Linux" form, which I believe is owed to his trying to make it very clear this is not a prefix for some independent project, but a combination of the two. If he had truly wanted to "claim fame" on the Linux kernel, he could just have proposed to rename the whole system to "GNU," but to my knowledge he never did that.
Both of these considerations existed, with the former being much more important than the latter in my eyes. This is the serious background of it. But yes: We also seem to take it much less grave than many people in this discussion and indeed often use it in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Using it was not intended as a hostile act, and I hope I was able to make this clear now.
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