that old GNU/Linux argument

Björn Persson listor3.rombobeorn at
Tue Jul 22 22:21:55 UTC 2008

Antonio Olivares wrote:
> Linus said in the naming controversy:
> Linus Torvalds has said in the documentary Revolution OS, when asked if the
> name GNU/Linux was justified:
> Well, I think it's justified, but it's justified if you actually make a GNU
> distribution of Linux ... the same way that I think that "Red Hat Linux" is
> fine, or "SuSE Linux" or "Debian Linux", because if you actually make your
> own distribution of Linux, you get to name the thing, but calling Linux in
> general "GNU Linux" I think is just ridiculous.[25]
> </QUOTE> 

I'm starting to think that the slash was a mistake. "GNU/Linux" is supposed to 
be read as "GNU combined with Linux", but lots of people read it as if it 
were analogous to "GNU Emacs", the GNU project's clone of Emacs. If even 
Linus has trouble understanding the distinction between "GNU Linux" 
and "GNU/Linux", then the problem is really bad. (I can of course not rule 
out the possibility that Linus was misquoted.)

Stallman should probably have put in a word instead of the slash from the 
beginning. If he had asked people to say "GNU and Linux", or "plus" or "with" 
or "on" or something, then people would at least not be attacking him based 
on that particular misunderstanding.

Björn Persson

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