GNU License for Hardware

Richard Stallman rms at
Fri Oct 15 11:01:36 UTC 1999

Derek Balling has made accusations against me here that call for

    I have seen him personally with my own eyes demand it of people. I saw him 
    rip into a member of the press for being "ignorant" when he referred to 
    Linux as Linux.

Calling this version of the GNU system "Linux", and not mentioning the
name GNU, is treating the GNU Project with disrespect.  We're the
principal (though not the sole) developers of the system, and ordinary
respect suggests you should call it by our name for it.

The freedom to treat anyone with disrespect is an essential part of
freedom of speech.  I strongly support freedom of speech, and
therefore I never demand that people call the GNU system "GNU".

However, I too have freedom of speech.  When I see a person
persistently treat the GNU Project with disrespect, I have the right
to criticize or even reproach their conduct.  I don't do this often,
because usually I think it is more effective to stick to the issues
and address them in a calm tone.  But I have done it sometimes.

However, when I say someone is speaking from ignorance, that is not a
reproach.  We all start out ignorant on any particular topic.  It's
no shame to say something wrong out of ignorance, as long as you're
willing to learn.

    If he urges one the use of GNU/Linux, but won't urge the use of (the 
    theoretical) GNU/Solaris, even though the products are fundamentally 
    identical, then that IS hypocrisy.

The only thing in GNU/Linux which is Linux is the kernel.  If you took
the kernel of Solaris and made it work in the GNU system, that would
be an analogous situation, and the term "GNU/Solaris-kernel" would be
appropriate.  (Not "GNU/Solaris", because Solaris is the whole system,
not the kernel.)

But if you just install some GNU packages on Solaris, that is not an
analogous situation: much more remains of Solaris than just the
kernel.  This would not be GNU/Solaris-kernel.

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