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GNU/Busybox ?!?

GNU/Busybox ?!?

Posted Mar 28, 2007 10:43 UTC (Wed) by greve (guest, #8385)
In reply to: GNU/Busybox ?!? by bronson
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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GNU/Busybox ?!?

Posted Mar 29, 2007 10:11 UTC (Thu) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

> 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.

But this is exactly what he believes. He believes it is the GNU system, whether or not the components are in fact GNU components or other components which work in harmony with the GNU ones. The necessity of using terms like "GNU/Linux" is simply because Linux already had the name recognition and branding trains in motion, and no direct means of raising the profile was found to be available.

That is, I suspect he would insist on calling the whole thing GNU if he thought it would work.

"GNU+Linux" at least has the minor amount of tact to not imply that Linux is a GNU component.

GNU/Busybox ?!?

Posted Mar 29, 2007 12:29 UTC (Thu) by greve (guest, #8385) [Link]

That is, I suspect he would insist on calling the whole thing GNU if he thought it would work.

All I can say to this is that when I spoke to him, he never gave me that impression. In fact, he always seemed to make it clear that only a combination of the GNU System with the GNU Hurd kernel would be "the GNU System" in his eyes.

But ultimately only RMS can tell us what RMS really thinks.

GNU/Busybox ?!?

Posted Mar 31, 2007 0:57 UTC (Sat) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

But this of course clearly underscores my point. Any production Hurd system would invariably include all sorts of software besides the GNU software, much of it as indespensible for real work as the kernel, but that would be "GNU" regardless of all the other software. The difference is that Linux is the defacto, existing name that people use to refer to the collection; its necessity is not unique. Thus you can see the attempt to affix GNU to Linux is not motivated by giving due credit, as none is intended when for the eventual Hurd system.

Please do further the FSF and FSFE's goals of promoting freedom by promoting the GNU project. The freedom ideals are important and deserve mention. But do it as openly and honestly as possible. Affixing it to Linux is a bad strategy.


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