that old GNU/Linux argument

Aaron Konstam akonstam at
Fri Jul 25 13:54:05 UTC 2008

On Fri, 2008-07-25 at 12:47 +0200, Björn Persson wrote:
> Tim wrote:
> > Speaking as someone who studied (at college) computing from the
> > component level, and has built systems from the chip level.  I mean
> > breadboarding CPUs, RAM, I/O, etc., not just putting together IBM
> > clones.  As well as studying programming at that level (hand compiling
> > the op-codes from mnemonics used to write the program).  I'm quite
> > astounded by the number of people who want to redefine what an OS is, to
> > something that it's not, just to suit their egos.  The OS simply is that
> > which lets software make use of the hardware, not what makes it
> > convenient for us to make use of it.
> >
> > So answer this:  Which bit of the software on this computer system is it
> > that actually does the OS functions, the *real* OS function?
> With all that education you have, perhaps you can explain something I've been 
> wondering about: Why do we have both terms "kernel" and "operating system" if 
> they're both the same thing?
> If people can't agree on what an operating system is, but do agree on what a 
> kernel is, maybe we should avoid the ambiguity of "operating system" and 
> simply call a kernel a kernel?
> Björn Persson
At the risk of violating my own prohibition I am forced to respond to
the above e-mail. The kernel and the operating system are certainly not
the same thing in the same sense that the engine and the car are not the
same thing.
What's so funny?
Aaron Konstam telephone: (210) 656-0355 e-mail: akonstam at

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