GNU License for Hardware

Derek Balling dredd at
Fri Oct 15 13:43:37 UTC 1999

At 05:01 AM 10/15/99 -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
>Derek Balling has made accusations against me here that call for


>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.

If you wish to insist upon it, then you need to write that clause into the 
GPL. You have every right to desire that. You can desire a Lamborghini as 
well. But for you to truly stand behind your stance on freedom, you need to 
also accept that people are NOT going to do that. I've yet to see you 
willingly accept that a largish chunk of the Linux community, inclduing its 
founder, has no desire to call it "GNU/Linux".

>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".

Richard, that is an outright lie. I have watched you - with my own two eyes 
and my own two ears - berate a journalist at LWCE for calling it simply 

>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.

Indeed. "Persistently" in this case must mean "When a journalist, in their 
first sentence, uses the word 'Linux'".

>     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.)

No. The only thing in Linux which is Linux is everything. The Linux 
community has taken the GNU Code -- we have that right because you 
explicitly granted it to us via the GPL. We have taken that and made it our 
own. That was one of the things you claimed you WANTED about Free Software, 
for people who needed code to be able to reuse it, modify it, incorporate 
it into their own projects, etc.  As I said, the Linux community took you 
at your word, and has taken no end of shit for it afterwards. The Linux 
community read the GPL, we read your writings, and assumed that you would 
be openly supportive of our reusing of your code, bringing it into our own 
project, already named "Linux".

As to GNU/Solaris vs GNU/Solaris-kernel... Someone from Sun would have to 
speak up to say by what name the Sun kernel is known. It could very well be 
that GNU/SunOS is where it would go (since uname still reports the kernel 
revision as SunOS even today, so perhaps that's the name that would need to 
be used).   BUT we're not talking about taking the Sun kernel and making it 
work in the GNU system. This would be taking the Sun kernel and installing 
all the GNU stuff and leaving nothing but the Sun kernel behind. As I said, 
you don't change a kernel to allow applications to run, you port your 
applications to the kernel. If someone made the GNU apps all work and 
replace all the Sun apps, then by your logic, that would have to be 
GNU/(Solaris|SunOS|etc.).   Is that correct?

>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.

Agreed. But the original poster asked if they replaced EVERYTHING with GNU 
software, which is when you said you would not support that naming. Which 
is, among other ludicrous statements, what started this thread.


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