GNU discussion (was re:Free your phone)

Renaissance Man renaissanceman at
Mon Jan 22 01:34:38 CET 2007

I actually become aware of the FS movement via the GNU moniker, so it  
worked on me. For many years I was only aware of the OS movement  
(through knowing about "Linux").

Renaissance Man

On 22 Jan 2007, at 12:13 am, Marcel de Jong wrote:

> Hello all,
> On this recent discussion on yes/no GNU/Linux, I saw this and that
> popped up a question for me:
> On 1/21/07, Dave Crossland <dave at> wrote:
> <snip>
>> If more people are aware of why freedom and community matter, then
>> they will buy more products that support freedom and community, like
>> more Neos.
> <snip>
> How does adding three more letters and a / increase people's knowledge
> on free and open software?
> Let's look at an example:
> Joe Schmoe goes into a store to buy a new phone.
> He sees a large selection of phones in the store. He's in the market
> of a smartphone, so he  choses the department of smartphones.
> And then goes looking at the specs and the software bundled with  
> the phone.
> He sees that he can choose between phones that run Microsoft Windows
> Mobile, Symbian, PalmOS, Nokia proprietary OS, Sony/Ericsson
> proprietary OS, and GNU/Linux.
> Then looks at the software. Okay, Windows has a nice layout, and has
> some really nice apps.
> PalmOS' UI is nicely integrated, all apps look decent, though the
> input system is something to get used to.
> Symbian looks dated and both S/E's as well as Nokia's system look  
> clunky.
> The GNU/Linux package looks nice too, and look this one even has GPS
> built-in, and has all accessories added in the bundle for merely $350!
> That looks like a great system. I'll take it.
> Joe Schmoe doesn't care whether it's GNU/Linux or 'just' Linux. It's
> not as if he's going to Google "GNU/Linux" while he's in the store to
> find out the core-principles of the software.
> What he does care about is that It Just Works(tm).
> If he takes it out of the box, and charges the unit does the phone
> work, can he call his buddies to tell about his new acquisition, can
> he text his mates, can he use the calendar?
> It should just work, and easily without having to hack the system.
> (this should especially hold true for the 'consumer phone' that was
> announced in Openmoko's press release)
> Sure, credit where credit is due, and I don't see any problem with
> having the manual refer to GNU/Linux (but I also have no qualms if it
> doesn't).
> But I think it's a bit farfetched to attribute 3 letters and a / to
> all-customer awareness of the principles behind it.
> If someone buys the phone merely on the grounds that it runs Linux,
> chances are he or she is already aware of the history and ideals
> behind GNU and Linux.
> Let's not get lost in this bottomless pit of misconceptions and
> well-intended suggestions.
> And let's focus our efforts on making this phone a device which  
> Just Works! :)
> This has been my two cents.
> --
> Marcel de Jong
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> OpenMoko community mailing list
> community at

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