Some general principles of naming

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Mon Oct 18 04:16:42 UTC 1999

Richard Stallman <rms at>, wrote (in part):

> If you think it is proper to use a name that gives credit to those who
> developed a system, but you think (as I do) that it is impractical to
> give credit in that way to all the contributors, I suggest making a
> list of them in order of decreasing priority.  Then you can give
> credit to the first N of them, for whatever N you think is feasible.

Despite having one of the largest word sets of all human languages,
English seems to have enough ambiguity and double meaning.  "Free"
is almost hopelessly confusing.....

Richard, are you using the word "principal" to mean "first?"
When I see that word, I generally take the meaning "most important."

I think it is proper for those who are developing (present tense) and
spreading (present tense) free software to use whatever name they
like.  Those who developed (past tense) or started (past tense) a
project may or may not deserve to be named creditors.  

There are a lot of 80%  solutions in the software world.  Indeed, the
future holds the promise of gathering pre-built components to create
new applications.  I respect those who provide the last 20% as being
most important.

Did Linus copy Linux in its entirety from the GNU project or did
the GNU project simply inspire and provide some of the building 
blocks that the architect happened to use?

The brick makers don't get to name the building.

If you mean "most important" when you say "principal", then how
do you consider the GNU project to be the most important contributor?
Did the GNU project design and provide the architecture of Linux?  
Did the GNU project advise or support Linus?  Would Linus have 
completed Linux even if the GNU project never existed? 

I am not questioning the importance of the GPL in the success of
Linux.  I am asking how the GNU project, not Linus, was most
important developer of the Linux kernel.

Forrest Cavalier
Mib Software

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