GNU License for Hardware

Derek J. Balling dredd at
Fri Oct 15 21:24:53 UTC 1999

At 02:59 PM 10/15/99 -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
>Actually I do not say that Linux is part of the GNU system.  What I
>say is that the GNU/Linux system is the combination of GNU and Linux.
>It is the result of integrating Linux into the GNU system, but it
>isn't precisely the GNU system.  It is a system that differs from GNU
>in having a different kernel.

Ahhhh, but that implies that this was the direction of integration. I would 
argue, and many others would also argue, that it was the GNU tools which 
were integrated into the Linux system.

This may seem like a to-MAY-to/to-MAH-to thing, but it really isn't.

The argument for this point is very sound, since many distributions of 
Linux contain non-GNU software. The GNU system does not include vi, as it 
is not GNU software. The GNU system does not include pine, as that is not 
GNU software.  Both of these are fairly standard on a Linux deployment. 
What am I getting at? LINUX IS NOT A GNU SYSTEM. It is an Operating System 
named after its kernel which also happens to incorporate a lot of GNU software.

Linux is, as I have said before, a "best of breed", a meritocracy if you 
will. If another version of bash came along that was Open Source, but not 
GNU, and it was better, you'd probably see it get implemented all over the 
place. (Perhaps a bad example since shells, like editors, are a fairly 
religious issue, but the point is made, I hope). Linux is less about 
freedom and more about creating a great open source operating system. 
Certainly Linux has incorporated many great pieces of GNU software.

You say that "It is the result of integrating Linux into the GNU system", 
but the same could be said that "it is the result of integrating the Linux 
kernel along with GNU applications, along with BSD applications, along with 
University of Washington applications, along with...", at which point its 
name would become VERY tedious. Whole column-inches of articles would be 
spent just typing the name of the OS.  To simplify it, like many OS's, 
Linux was named after its kernel -- Linux. Just as nobody boots up 
Windows98 and says "I'm not using Windows98, THAT's the kernel, I'm using 
the 'Program Manager OS'" (since that's REALLY what they're using if your 
argument is taken to its logical conclusions).


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