GNU discussion (was re:Free your phone)

MR mrintegrity at
Mon Jan 22 20:49:42 CET 2007

I just joined the mailing list but if the point of this thread is
about whether the manual/box/website for openmoko should refer to it
using Linux or GNU/Linux then I am 100% whole heartedly behind
If there were the possibility of replacing the kernel with say a cut
down bsd kernel (just an example) but keeping all the GNU tools then
you obviously couldn't say it was running "linux" which a lot of
people would still say but you could say it was running a gnu based
OS.. GNU is the operating system which just happens to use a linux
kernel.. it could use any other kernel.. even HURD :). Sorry for the

Actually, I think it would be far better just to call it "mokOS" or
something.. if you call it linux or gnu/linux is equally confusing to
some people.. "what, so it runs ubuntu? (redhat, suse, slackware -
whichever one the person has heard of)


On 1/22/07, Dave Crossland <dave at> wrote:
> On 22/01/07, Marcel de Jong <mdejong at> wrote:
> >
> > On 1/21/07, Dave Crossland <dave at> wrote:
> > > 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.
> >
> > How does adding three more letters and a / increase people's knowledge
> > on free and open software?
> I like to be accurate and know what I am talking about, and I like
> others to be too :-)
> If you name the system "Linux", you suggest a version of the system's
> origin, history, and purpose that is not true. If you call it
> GNU/Linux, you present a more accurate idea.
> This is explained in depth at
> > 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 is judging these phones on purely practical values.
> The Free Software concept is that there are things more important than
> practical values - although it does not say that pratical values are
> unimportant, they clearly are very important.
> What is more important than practical values? Community and freedom.
> > 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.
> It is exactely as if he is going to do that :-)
> RenaissanceMan has posted in this thread that he has done just that.
> > What he does care about is that It Just Works(tm).
> If he has never had a smartphone before, he is likely to only care for
> practical values like if it "just works."
> But if he has owned a smartphone before, he will likely be frustrated
> with the restrictions that it has imposed on him, because of its
> proprietary nature.
> That is why there is such buzz around OpenMoko: At last, a chance to
> escape proprietary restrictions and get the same freedom and community
> we are used to with our desktops and laptops :-)
> > 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)
> Calling the system "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux" will not effect this, at all.
> > 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).
> It would be unfair if it didn't. I like to be fair.
> > But I think it's a bit farfetched to attribute 3 letters and a / to
> > all-customer awareness of the principles behind it.
> For many years the idea of a free software operating system was far
> fetched. These principles are quite potent, I'd say :-)
> > 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.
> I disagree. The ideas behind the GNU system and the Linux kernel are
> very different, and many GNU/Linux users believe the system was
> started in 1991, by a student, for fun. This is sustained by calling
> the system "Linux" instead of "GNU/Linux."
> > Let's not get lost in this bottomless pit of misconceptions and
> > well-intended suggestions.
> Yes, by remaining polite and rational :-)
> > And let's focus our efforts on making this phone a device which Just Works! :)
> I have no doubt about that :-)
> --
> Regards,
> Dave
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> community at

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