Creating an operating system with Linux but without GNU

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at
Tue Jul 29 18:16:10 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> To make the point clear, let's try a thought experiment.  Imagine that
> some people are so fed up with "these threads" that they set out to
> create an operating system built exclusively out of Free (Libre) and
> Open Source software, but without any GNU software, to avoid any
> claims GNUdists might have on it.
> They're fond of Linux, for they helped write it, so they decide to use
> it as a kernel.
> They look around and see there are a number of BSD operating systems
> out there, so they decide to use the BSD userland to complete the
> operating system, taking bits and pieces from FreeBSD, OpenBSD and
> NetBSD.
> It takes some effort to port the lower-level libraries, init scripts
> and stuff, but eventually the thing boots up, runs a shell and it's
> announced to the world, with pointers to BSD ports systems and many
> pre-built ports of applications and servers that most people have come
> to expect from typical distros.  Lucky for them, most of the ports
> build without change.

If you are going to make this effort, why not just ditch the kernel too 
and re-implement any missing drivers for the *BSDs or OpenSolaris 
instead?  That way you lose both the zealot political movement and the 
restrictive license in one fell swoop and end up with code that people 
can actually use.  You'd get dtrace and zfs as a bonus and the decades 
of having to duplicate and waste effort because of GPL restrictions that 
prevent sharing could finally be over.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at

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