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SubjectRe: Nvidia and its choice to read the GPL "differently"
"Dimitrie O. Paun" <> writes:
> I know you have a very strong sentimental attachment to GNU,
> and that's more than understandable. But in the great scheme of things,
> it's a minor issue. As much as you like them to, people don't attach
> semantics to names. Period. They just want a catchy label, and that's all.

I think you're quite wrong -- names are very important, much more so
than it may seem at first.

If someone's mom (having heard the gossip) asks their computer-literate
child, `What is this XXX thing, anyway?', the answer is likely to be
very different when XXX is "GNU" as opposed to when XXX is "Linux".

The reason is that GNU _starts_ with freedom as an idea, and builds
software on top of that; it's very hard to explain GNU without explaining
freedom too. Most people that associate themself with the `Linux'
movement, OTOH, seem to start with `look at all the cool stuff it does;'
the freedom part, even for those that care about it, seems to remain on
the periphery (I hope I don't piss anyone off with this characterization,
this is just what I've observed!).

Which approach is the right one obviously depends on your priorities, but
it's pretty clear to me that these respective groups of people _do_
associate themselves with the names. I think that's one reason Richard's
attempts to get people to use GNU/linux have met with such strong
resistance (yeah, I know it's not the _only_ reason).

Perhaps, if everyone starting using `GNU/linux,' it would actually
_dilute_ the meaning of GNU, since many people that had no idea about what
GNU means would suddenly start using it just because someone told them the
name had changed from Linux. None-the-less, I think it would have some
of the opposite effect too, making people that previously never thought
about it wonder `what's this GNU?'

On a slight tangent: I bought an electronic english/japanese dictionary
about 8 years ago, and it happened to have a definition of GNU in it,
complete with a short (and I think accurate) description of free software!
Recently I bought a new dictionary; it doesn't define GNU, but it does
contain a definition of `Linux' -- and the summary is `a competitor to
windows'! It then goes into further detail saying it's `freeware'
(free-beer free), and worked on cooperatively by its users, but no
mention of `freedom' as such; it's clear the dicionary makers were just a
bit confused, but I wonder if they'd have gotten it right if the name
contained `GNU', with its strong associations with freedom...

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
--Albert Einstein
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