GNU License for Hardware

Rick Moen rick at
Sun Oct 17 07:01:22 UTC 1999

Quoting Tom Hull (thull at sco.COM):

> [...]  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.

If you are familiar with the history involved, then you would already 
know the answer to this question.  So, I'll assume you've never heard
the story.  (Please don't jump on minor inaccuracies in what follows,
folks, if I manage to get the gist of it right.)  

In essence, RMS had the bad luck to back what currently seems to have
been the wrong horse.  When the Hurd project started, microkernels
were considered the wave of the future for sundry reasons, including
the ability to do source-level debugging.  Unexpected implementation
difficulties have slowed progress, since then, and microkernels in
general no longer seem such a good idea.

Disclaimer:  I am nobody's idea of a kernel hacker.  I've just tried
to summarise the facts as best I understand them.

> Perhaps some respect is also due to the people who have actually
> managed to build a viable kernel.

Please don't let an urge towards rhetorical flourishes get the better of
you, Tom:  The gentleman you addressed _nowhere_ expressed disrespect.

Cheers,                 "Heedless of grammar, they all cried 'It's him!'"
Rick Moen                       -- R.H. Barham, _Misadventure at Margate_
rick at

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