that old GNU/Linux argument

Timothy Murphy gayleard at
Tue Jul 22 12:48:42 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:

>> This was that the term "GNU operating system" which you used
>> _is_ ambiguous to me.
> This is an unfortunate effect of a very successful campaign of some
> fanatics that wanted to push the goals of software freedom promoted by
> the FSF to a back seat.  If they hadn't renamed the GNU operating
> system after the kernel they ran it with, today you'd not only know
> what it is, but you'd also know know far more about the history of
> Free Software, its philosophy, and why you should care about your 4
> essential freedoms.
>> I genuinely do not know what you mean.
> I'll take this is as a request for me to explain what it means.

What do YOU mean by "the GNU operating system"???
I don't want a lecture, I just want to know what YOU mean by it.

> Look at  You'll find a lot of software
> there, that is all part of the GNU Operating System.  Follow the link
> to The GNU System, in the README.  That page describes what the GNU
> Operating System is.

I didn't find a file called README at that URL.
There are 7 files with README in the title, 
the nearest (probably) being "=README".
At a quick glance, the term "GNU operating system" does not appear in it.

> Now look at the release annoucement of Linux.  See how Linux is
> described as a kernel.  See how, up to this date, linux tarballs
> published by its creator still amount to no more than a kernel.
> The GNU project was started to create a complete Free operating
> system.  The software written as part of the GNU project, as well as
> the pre-existing software it was designed to work with, amounts to the
> GNU operating system.
> Linux, the kernel that Linus Torvalds announced back in 1991, and
> released under a Free Software license in 1992, is one of the various
> kernels that today can be used along with the GNU operating system,
> but the variant of the GNU operating system in which Linux replaced
> Hurd was the first complete Free operating system.

As far as I can make any sense out of this,
you are using the term "the GNU operating system" to mean
"any operating system that uses GNU software".
Fair enough, if that is what you mean by it just say so.

> Some fanatics seem to think that it is appropriate to rename someone
> else's project when they combine it with a comparatively much smaller
> amount of code they wrote, but take offense when this someone else
> asks his projects' name to be given at least equal mention, to spread
> awareness about the reasons why he started it.

All I asked was what YOU meant by it.
Personally, I have never heard anyone except you
refer to "the GNU operating system".
If someone did, I would assume they meant a system using the Hurd kernel.

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