GNU License for Hardware

Tom Hull thull at sco.COM
Sat Oct 16 20:02:37 UTC 1999

Richard Stallman wrote:
> The only thing in GNU/Linux which is Linux is the kernel.

Is this really a true statement?

What about lilo? What about kerneld? Other user level (non-kernel)
daemons and utilities?

Conversely, if we do an inventory of the user level programs in
a typical "GNU/Linux" distribution, how much of this is really
attributable directly to GNU? Even if you discount applications,
games and the like, and just try to concentrate on tools, layered
infrastructure, and sysadmin utilities (the sort of things that
are typically bundled with Operating Systems, e.g. by commercial
Unix vendors)?

In the case of GNU software like glibc, was the software in
question ported to run under Linux (like it was ported to run
under umpteen Unix variants), or was Linux written to conform to
the GNU software? Did GNU define a kernel API? Was Linux written
to conform to that API?

Should we count under the GNU column something like GNOME, which
is at most an optional part of many Linux distributions?

Finally, why should we trivialize the kernel of any OS as an "only
thing"? If kernels were so easy, one would think that GNU would
have long ago released one. But in my experience kernels are not
so easy, which is precisely why I think that anyone who seriously
intends to build an Operating System has to tackle the kernel
first. Perhaps some respect is also due to the people who have
actually managed to build a viable kernel.

 * Tom Hull -- thull at, thull at, thull at

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