Accusations, accusations, always accusations

Alex Nicolaou anicolao at
Tue Oct 19 09:20:27 UTC 1999

Richard Stallman wrote:
>     I do think that the authors of the GNU programs deserve credit for what
>     they've done, and that also translates into credit for the whole "GNU
>     System". However, it's puzzling to me why nobody's busy arguing that it
>     should be called GNU/Cygwin32 ...
> As far as I understand it, this is not a similar situation.  Cygwin32
> uses just a part of the GNU system, the compilation tools.  And it
> is just an add-on for another large system, not a whole system.

I find the two quite similar actually. Cygwin32 is gcc & company, bash,
and a standard set of file utilities (ls, tar, ...). From the user's
perspective, it transforms their NT system into a system where the
shells look and act just like UNIX shells. It does this by providing a
porting layer that makes it easy to take more GNU tools and run
./configure && make && make install and get the right result. 

It isn't quite comparable to Linux since it isn't packaged as well, and
so there's a lot of work for the end user who actually wishes the GNU
system's feel inside NT. While doing this work, one can't help but
notice that Cygwin32 is effectively a method for porting the GNU system
onto the Win32 subsystem. However, work will not be required - you'll be
able to run the install and with virtually no effort will have the GNU
system on NT without the current configuration issues. At that point it
will be exactly parallel - and will it have the wrong name? 

> Also, I would expect that what Cygwin32 owes to GNU software is
> pretty clear to its users (which is not the case for most users
> of GNU/Linux).

I have to agree here.

> But perhaps they ought to give more credit to GNU.

I guess the root of my confusion is that I just don't know how much
credit is enough. When I was using Linux 0.99 I gave a lot of credit to
the GNU project. Now that we're having this argument I'm starting to
feel motivated to try FreeBSD (since I don't have any philosophical
issues with the BSD license). I'm sure this isn't the effect that you're
trying to produce!

>       For that matter, why
>     isn't it GNU/CodeFusion? I guess you feel that the people at Cygnus are
>     morally worthless.
> You must have a strong wish to criticize the GNU Project if you will
> criticize us for things you only imagine we do.  You ought to verify
> things before you use them as the basis for accusations.

I think you accidentally edited out the context that makes this more
clear. The "you" in this sentence is not RMS or a plural you referring
to developers of the GNU system; it is specifically the person I was
responding to (John Cowan) who wrote "failing to give credit to prior
researchers is the act of a morally  worthless person". I was attempting
(obviously unsuccessfully) to show that the words were too strong by
mirroring them back at him in a context where credit for the GNU project
is due (and given at the same level as in Linux in my opinion) and yet
is not contested the way it is with Linux. I think that to label anybody
morally worthless as the result of any single action is quite
questionable; John's implication is that the Linux kernel development
community is morally worthless for failing to name it GNU/Linux and I
think that this is quite out of line.

> I will ask someone to tell me what CodeFusion is.  I have heard a few
> people mention it recently, but no one has described it to me.

As I understand it, CodeFusion is a GUI that wrappers the GNUPro tool
suite (gcc, gdb, etc).

>     It is
>     disturbing that the inequity has only been widely discussed since Linux
>     became very popular,
> I have been trying to spread the word for many years;
> it is not my fault if you did not notice.

I'm sorry I didn't notice too. However, for a long time I've been happy
just to get GNU software via ftp and haven't followed the newsgroups or
mailing lists about GNU in particular. The first reference I can find to
this on the Linux kernel mailing list is March, 1999. 

What's the URL for the original message on the topic?


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