that old GNU/Linux argument

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at
Mon Jul 21 03:01:11 UTC 2008

On Jul 20, 2008, "Mikkel L. Ellertson" <mikkel at> wrote:

> I read it more as calling a Mustang a Goodyear/Mustang because it has
> Goodyear tires.

So you don't believe Linus, the primary author of Linux, when he
publishes *linux*-2.6.26.tar.bz2, containing only kernel code?

You don't believe him when he announced linux-0.0.1 stating it was a
kernel, required GNU to be useful?

You're resorting to circular logic and ad populum to try to equate
Linux to Mustang, when Linux (per its original announcement, by its
original author) equates to Goodyear, and say Fedora equates to

> it is the kernel that sets it apart from other system that may
> also use the same user-space programs. After all, the original GNU
> utility programs were not written for the Linux kernel.

> After all, its not like you couldn't build a Linux distribution
> without any GNU programs.

Do you realize you're contradicting yourself with the two quoted
blocks above?

Per the argument presented in the second block, it would be just right
to regard GNU as as much of a distinguishing feature as Linux, would
it not?

> If I am understanding you correctly, you want people to only call
> the kernel Linux.

That's how its original author calls it, yes.  It wasn't him who
started calling the combination of GNU with Linux as Linux, FTR.

But then, I don't care much how people call the kernel.  It's just not
that relevant to me.

What I do care about is how people call the GNU operating system.
Calling it Linux is offensive, unfair and, more importantly,
detrimental to the Free Software movement.  So I ask people to help us
spread awareness about software freedom by putting its name back where
it should have always been.

> But people are using Linux to describe the entire distribution that
> uses the Linux kernel. It would be interesting to compare how much
> of a typical Linux distribution is the Kernel, how much is the GNU
> package, and how much is from other sources.

This evidence was presented very early in this thread.

> Just because something is released under the GPL license does not
> make it a GNU program.

Of course not.  Otherwise Linux itself would have been a GNU program.
It isn't, and I don't know of anyone who actually claimed it to be,
although I've seen people who oppose the request to call the operating
system GNU+Linux claim people have made such an insane claim.

> And not all the programs in a Linux distribution are released under
> the GPL...

... and this is an absolutely irrelevant, albeit true (save for
s:Linux:GNU+Linux: :-), fact for the present conversation.

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

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