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SubjectRe: GNU/Linux

"UNIX" is used to refer to both the UNIX OS and the typical utilities (e.g.
the "UNIX system") and the same usage is standard for other operating systems.
But when we say "UNIX operating system" we are excluding the UNIX tools.
That is the standard usage. Sometimes one can say: "the MVS system"
to include both the OS and the tools. But "operating system" does
not include emacs, lex, yacc, make, or cc.
This usage was explained in Frisch's book "Essential System Administration"
(Frisch, pub. O'Reilly)
"Technically, the name Linux refers only to the essential core (the
kernel, some drivers, and the like), but it is commonly used to refer to
the entire ensemble of freeware from a variety of sources that makes
up a Linux _distribution_. Tools from the GNU Project of the Free
Software Foundation constitute the largest single component of non-kernel
items; in this book I'll sometimes refer to these commands and utilities
as the "GNU versions" to distinguish them from their less full-featured
"standard" counterparts." (p xviii)

To summarize: It is common usage to use an operating system name to describe
the "ensemble" including OS kernel and toolset. It is incorrect usage to
call the ensemble or a particular distribution an "operating system".
Thus, "Linux" can mean either the "Linux operating system" or "the
ensemble including the Linux operating system and some set of tools."
But "Linux operating system" explicitly excludes tools, and "GNU/Linux
operating system" is meaningless unless one advances a novel meaning of the
term "operating system".




On Wed, Mar 31, 1999 at 11:54:57PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
> People sometimes use the term "operating system design" to mean the
> design of kernels. However, for decades, when I've heard people talk
> about operating systems such as Unix, Multics, ITS, VMS, OS/360, or
> even Microsoft Windows, they generally did meant the whole collection
> of software, not just the kernel.

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