Accusations, accusations, always accusations

Alex Nicolaou anicolao at
Fri Oct 22 20:53:30 UTC 1999

Richard Stallman wrote:

> So when the media think that Linus is responsible, they are making
> an error of substance.
> One of the reasons to call the system "GNU/Linux" instead of just
> "Linux" is to help prevent that mistake.

I wholeheartedly agree that this is, as you put it, an error of
substance on the media's part. However, if the system had been called
GNU/Linux, the media would instead fasten the credit and glamour onto
Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman. While this is more equitable since
you and the GNU system are a major component of Linux, it still doesn't
achieve your goal of equal billing for the GNU system itself. Perhaps it
would put you in a better position to spread the GNU philosophy, though.

I also agree that the error is irking. However, I think it is human
nature to look to individuals and not systems when looking for
leadership or assigning credit. For this reason I would not blame the
media, since I see a root cause in basic human behaviour. (However, I
don't mean to imply that you are blaming the media; only that you hope
to have people think and behave in a way that they do not: namely, by
giving equal credit to a system and a person.) I do not think this is
changing the subject, since the subject is "How should the GNU project
get a fair share of the credit?" In the final analysis we must agree to
disagree about whether pushing for a name change in the system is the
right way to acquire more credit. I argue that it erodes the credibility
of you personally and may even motivate people to move away from using
the GNU system; whereas you argue that it is the right thing and imply
that it has worked for you thus far. So it seems that our positions are
set too firmly for either to convince the other what is right.

The only suggestion I have that remains is that you would do well to
convince those who are closest to you to argue on your behalf, and enter
the argument personally as little as possible. Since actually succeeding
in changing the name will accrue you personally a great deal of credit
and media attention, it is better if the name change is pushed by others
and not by you personally. Otherwise, many people will unfairly assume
the worst about you and your intentions.


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