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SubjectRe: Linux isn't an operating system


On Wed, 6 Mar 1996, Richard Stallman wrote:

> I call these collections "Linux-based GNU systems" to help promote
> unity and cooperation in the whole community. I hope some of you will
> join me in doing this.
>

Oh, what the heck - I was going to leave this thread alone, but it persists,
so here's my 2c.

I believe we should give credit where credit is due. To that end, I
describe the GNU tools as perhaps the best development system/utility
collection in existence. GCC makes most compilers pale in comparison -
when you look at things like platform independence, compile times, resultant
executable size and speed, compiler diagnostics, etc. I even feel that
Richard and other GNU tool developers are sometimes slighted when it comes
to giving credit to the Linux community for an excellent software system.

This being said (you knew there had to be a "but" in there somewhere),
I do not believe that requiring people to describe Linux as a "Linux-based
GNU system" will foster "unity". Perhaps the ambiguity of the term
"operating system" should be cleared up, but I would prefer to give the
GNU developers credit for their excellent tools in a second breath, rather
than trying to get everyone's name in when refering to what it *commonly*
known as an Linux. If a distinction is to be made between the Linux
kernel and an entire operating system, then why not call Linux "the Linux
System". And if the reference is in a publication that is circulated
outside of the GNU/Linux/X11/<etc> user community, give proper credit
where it is due when describing the system. This way, no one feels
cooerced/shamed into using GNU/FSF in the name of the system (and thus
making the name more than five syllables), but the credit is shared a
little more fairly. This also makes it easier for a writer to mention
the FSF's need for development resources. This is approach I use when
attempting to proselytize new Linux/GNU/X11/<etc> followers now - and
it seems to spread the praise around pretty equitably.

Personally, I would like to see the Linux system and the GNU tools used
to stave off the merciless onslaught of Microsoft operating systems on
the UNIX community. I develop software for both UNIX and Windows, and
do not like to envision a Windows-only world. If we all play this right,
we may be able to prevent Microsoft from pushing UNIX into the history
books. (In the immortal words of Rodney King, "can't we all just get
along?" :-)

-Terry Tompkins



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