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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- raya's research on "The Four Freedoms"

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- raya's research on "The Four Freedoms"
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 17:34:59 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

"Alfred M. Szmidt" <> writes:

>    In 1985, the FSF started to ship tapes and began to receive
>    donations.  The GNU OS (to be known later as HURD) was
>    progressing and most and more gaps were filled in its
>    architecture.
> The GNU operating system was never known as the Hurd.  The Hurd was
> a specific part of the GNU system, much like Emacs, GCC, etc.  The
> GNU operating system has always been simply known as GNU.
> History revisonism seems to be quite fun, even for articles from 1997.

Talk about revisionism.  If you look through old documents, you'll
find that "GNU" is used as a project name consistently.  It is not
called an "operating system" until much later, and even then it used
in contents like "The Hurd was to be the kernel of the GNU operating
system", where "GNU operating system" meant a working, not an
imaginary system, assembled in total by the GNU project.

At the time frame in question, "operating system" and "kernel" was
used pretty much synonymously in computer science circles.  This
changed once Microkernels gained mindshare: when things like the file
system were supposed to be run in user space, it did not make sense to
call just the kernel "operating system".  And the original GNU/Hurd
design certainly would have been among those architectures where the
kernel alone would not have earned the title operating system.

Nevertheless, calling all of the individual utilities that at one
point in the future _could_ be used for assembling "The GNU system" is
a bit of a stretch.  It makes more sense to call things "A GNU system"
when they exhibit a GNU personality, namely use all those GNU programs
that would also be used in "GNU proper".

The whole "The GNU operating system" was a bit of a stretch outside of
the GNU/Hurd realm, but the historical context was that GNU was not
getting _any_ recognition out of the work it put into keeping the GNU
systems with a Linux kernel running and maintained, and that the
programmer/users were making it hard for the actual authors of the
software to maintain it in a manner where all users would profit from
improvements.  It remains a contentious item, but several goals have
been achieved: people nowadays tend to be more aware that it is GNU
that comprises significant personality and programming effort under
the hood of "Linux systems", the willingness to cooperate has
improved, and the goals of free software development have become known
to more people.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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