Free Your Phone

David Ford david at
Sun Jan 21 16:42:10 CET 2007

The point you are avoiding or ignoring is that GNU people are ascribing 
credit for a single principle contributor.  If a contributor of a 
dwindling side of a ratio of software is a principle, then so must 
everything else be that went into the development of Linux and this 
phone that is larger.

GNU has this narrow minded focus that they reason that only themselves 
are fit to be titled such and deem that none others are as worthy as 
they are.  That is the reasoning presented in your argument.  My 
arguments only miss the mark when you decide that only arguments chosen 
by GNU are applicable.  That's not how "Open" source works, it's the 
community that decides, not a single entity or person.  Since there is 
always a huge argument going on this list or that list about 
"GNU/Linux", then it is abundantly clear that the community feels your 
"mark" isn't being missed.

You can't slap your GNU name on somebody's title of something and lay 
claim to it as a principle contributor if you insist that you are the 
only contributor of merit worth putting your name in the title.  It 
stinks majorly of hypocrisy.  What makes other very heavy contributors 
to Linux unworthy of credit in the title?

Why should GNU get title credit and no others?  Why do they ascribe 
themselves more worthy than everyone else?  Just because I committed 
important bug fixes or new code to sendmail, apache, and the linux 
kernel, should I demand my name or organization be prefixed before their 
names?  I think not.

I have gnome and kde and a plethura of other software suites and 
packages installed on my computers.  GNU software doesn't even come 
close to 1% of what I have installed.   Xorg is a collection of 
software, -the- underlying collection of software for GUI.  KDE and 
GNOME are also collections of software and for anyone that runs GUI, 
they are pretty vital.  You can also argue that the underlying KDE/GNOME 
software is also core software since it is used constantly and always.

Even disregarding lines-of-code and # of programs, save for ld, I use 
other software far more often than I use GNU.  I use the kernel -all- 
the time.

As you said, the others do not provide a compiler, linker, debugger, 
etc.  Most people don't use lexers, assemblers, compilers, debuggers, 
parser generators etc.  On top of that there are alternate tools for 
these.  GNU doesn't provide all the shells either.

Most people DO use desktop suites.  Why isn't Michael van Smoorenburg 
listed?  His software is the -first- userland software run on the vast 
majority of all of these Linux computers including those on desktops 
that don't do software development.  His software is also arguably more 
important than the GNU collection.

"The purpose in the 'GNU/Linux' qualifier, is to explicitly state that 
the system being referred to is an operating environment which is largely
built-from/depends-on the GNU toolchain and includes the linux kernel."

And why do GNU insist on ignoring the far larger contribution of 
others?  Your statement about any extra software is identified by the 
name of the distribution is quite false.  To my recollection, the same 
software packages are available with almost all distributions.  A 
distribution name is possibly best associated with the branding, stock 
appearances, and package management.  Certainly not to identify all the 
non-GNU software.

The _very_means_ you refer to also include non GNU software pretty much 
every time.  You argue the developer's toolchain for GNU's case, but 
where are all the other tools and software used to _write and build_ 
Linux software?

It's a strawman argument that GNU is the only entity of merit deemed 
worthy of prefixing their name to everyone.  Linux, the OS[1] and 
kernel, owes it's life and success to a great many people and 
organizations.  Nothing makes any of them any more worthy than any other 
to have their name prefixed before "Linux".

I've been developing Linux, the kernel and the OS, since it came on a 
floppy.  I never said GNU was trivial or random, don't put words in my 
mouth.  I do however say that GNU is not -the- great and glorious 
software collection.  I have never said GNU was not worthy of credit nor 
that their software is unimportant.  I do argue assertively that:

* they are not the only entity worthy of such distinctive credit, and
* that there is a lot more software out there that is worthy of credit, and
* there is a lot more software out there that other people would 
consider as more important, and
* Linux refers to the Kernel and OS, including the GNU software.

Now I hope you can clearly see that I don't follow the cult of all that 
is godly GNU and all others are insignificant.

There is no reason why GNU and _only_ GNU should have their name 
prefixed in a distribution's title.

Let me try to explain it once again.  You implied that I said GNU was 
some random trivial single piece of userland.  GNU software is a 
collection of software mixed with a larger collection of softwares.

GNU/Linux brings too much focus to GNU only and blatantly ignores the 
larger contributions of other persons and groups.

This argument can and will live on and neither side is going to win.  
GNU will narrow-mindedly keep pushing their blind superiority, and much 
of the community will keep telling them to stop being so selfish for the 
limelight and stand abreast with every other contributor who deserve 
just as much credit.


[1] Just like "Band-aid", "Jell-o", "Koolaid", "Styrofoam" etc, have 
been abused, the term "Linux" has been used to define not just the 
kernel but the entire collection of software so much that it is commonly 
accepted correct to refer to such as "Linux" (which will always be 
contested by the Olde Guard).

Corey wrote:
> On Saturday 20 January 2007 15:48, David Ford wrote:
>> OpenMoko FIC/GNU/Linus/Alan Cox/X11/Xorg/GTK/... Linux.  Oh, and who is 
>> the principal for the plastic and silicon?  How about the makers of the 
>> editors you use to create all this code and give credit to the companies 
>> that supplied the monitors, cpus, and keyboards?
> Let's just call it EverythingAndTheKitchenSink/Linux, and be done with it.
> Your attempt towards exaggeration has possibly led you away from the point.
> You use X11/Linux and Xorg/Linux as an example, well let's see: those are
> both names of a specific piece of userland software. You don't see anyone
> suggesting "Bash/Linux" or "Grep/Linux", however. 
> GNU is not merely a single piece of software, you seem to not understand that. 
> GNU is a system, a collection of extremely rudimentary/fundamental pieces
> of _critical_ software that are used to compile, bootstrap and enable an actual 
> functioning operating system from which even higher layers of software can 
> then be built and ran. ( the GNU system also happens to include some other 
> higher-layer components, such as gtk, gnome, and so on )
> Xorg, GTK, etc, etc, do _not_ provide the following components:
> linker
> compiler
> debugger
> parser generator
> posix library
> assembler
> shell
> auto-builder
> core utilities
> etc, etc, ... I'm sure I missed some other important ones.
> The purpose in the "GNU/Linux" qualifier, is to explicitly state that the system
> being referred to is an operating environment which is largely 
> built-from/depends-on the GNU toolchain and includes the linux kernel. Any
> particular extra software configuration on top of that is identified through
> the specific name of the distribution, i.e. Debian, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Kubuntu,
> OpenMoko, etc, etc,
> Now, if "GNU/Linux" - under those certain constrained instances where it is
> a more accurate description - is still unnecessary in your mind, then fine - but
> at least realize that your counter-arguments have entirely missed the mark as
> far as relevance to the underlying point goes: you seem to indicate that you don't
> like the idea of "GNU/Linux" primarily because it brings too much undue focus 
> upon one simple piece of software amongst many; however GNU, as I hope you 
> can clearly see now, is not some trivial, random single piece of userland - quite
> the contrary it is the _very_means_ by which most linux-based os's are built.
> Personally, I never actually use the "GNU/Linux" identifier - but I can understand 
> the logic and reasoning behind it, and it certainly doesn't bother me when other 
> people use it. At any rate, it looks better written out, than how it sounds verbally.
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