Accusations, accusations, always accusations

Richard Stallman rms at
Sun Oct 24 17:36:20 UTC 1999

When people talk only about which specific programs come from the GNU
Project, that's a basic misunderstanding of what we produced.

Many people and groups developed programs that are in the GNU/Linux
system today.  Most of them did their work because they wanted to
write a program to do X, Y or Z.  So when we judge their
contributions, we naturally look at what programs they developed, and
what those programs are useful for.

The GNU Project alone among these contributors had a higher-order
goal: to make a whole free operating system.  To do this, we had to
write lots of programs.  But unlike the other contributors, we were
not *just* writing programs.  They were steps in developing an
operating system--essentially the system that most people call "Linux".

Calling the operating system "Linux" gives the impression that the GNU
Project was *just* about writing a bunch programs, and that suggests
one should judge our work in terms of *just* the individual programs.
That's missing the forest for the trees.  (It still comes out that we
planted more of the trees than anyone else did.)

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