that old GNU/Linux argument

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at
Wed Jul 16 00:55:42 UTC 2008

On Jul 15, 2008, Joe Klemmer <klemmerj at> wrote:

> This sounds like you're making the argument that all beer
> should be called Water/Beer because water isn't specific to beer and
> can be used with/in any other beverage.

beer = water + fermented wort + brewing yeast + flavoring_{opt}

Note that beer doesn't show up as one of the components of beer.

Now, beer is mostly water, so it's a bad analogy, because it is very
much unlike current GNU+Linux distros.  Current distros don't contain
any single component that amounts to some 90% of its weight.  It may
have been so back in the early linux-0.0.1 days, though.

Anyhow...  You wouldn't point at a pint of beer and say "this is
water" any more than you'd say "this is barley" or "this is yeast".
If you had to choose one of them, you'd need a pretty good reason to
not go with "water".

Now, if we were to consider that water is just an irrelevant solvent,
we'd be left with a significant amount of fermented malted barley, and
the little bit of yeast that, when added to the mix of water and
malted barley, fermented it and turned it all into a great drink.

Now, would you point at the bottle and say "this is yeast"?

Why would you refer to the combination of the substrate GNU with a the
piece that, combined with it, made the combination a complete
operating system, by the name of this smaller piece?

Alexandre Oliva
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{,}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! =>
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{,}

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