GNU License for Hardware

Alejandro Forero Cuervo bachue at
Sun Oct 17 07:43:48 UTC 1999

    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)?

The following programs/library are made by GNU:

- C library.
- Inetutils (telnet, ftp, inetd...).
- Compiler.
- Textutils (cat fmt sort head tail...)
- Shellutils (sleep echo su uptime whoami pwd...)

I would find a box without any of those utilities (or an appropiate
replacement) completely unusable (perhaps the only one that could be
lacking would be Inetutils, but I don't really want a box with no inetd).
Most, if not all, the GNU/Linux distributions come with them (not with
`appropiate replacements').

The following software, all part of the GNU project, comes with many
GNU/Linux distributions as well.  It is not as important as the packages
listed above, but very important anyway:

- Bash.
- Binutils (ar, ld, ranlib, gas)
- The grep package.
- Make.
- WindowMaker
- Emacs
- Findutils (find, locate...)
- Groff
- Sed
- tar
- gzip

    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?

Linux was written to be compiled with GCC. If I recall correctly, there
were some problems when the people behind GCC decided to no longer support
some non-standard features and the Linux kernel no longer compiled with
new versions of GCC (until it (Linux) was modified). I could be wrong,

And I also recall some old note from Linus Torvalds announcing Linux all
happy since Bash (I think it was Bash) compiled and ran on it. I could
not find it.

I actually think Linux was written to work with GNU software.  Many of
the GNU utilities existed long before the Linux kernel did.

I believe the reasons why Richard wants us to call the system GNU/Linux is
so newcomers learn about the real reasons why the system is so important:
The freedom. Whether or not the system depends on GNU programs/libraries
is something I find relatively unimportant. The system does depend on the
freedom actively promoted by the FSF. By calling it GNU/Linux, I am just
acknowledging that fact and inviting my friends to find out about GNU.

You all tell Richard you are free to call it anyway you want. So is
he. Why don't we just drop this thread and let him spend his time in
more productive activities?


The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution.
      -- Albert Einstein.

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