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Re: Why "GNU/Linux" is not accepted: an observation

From: Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss)
Subject: Re: Why "GNU/Linux" is not accepted: an observation
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2019 14:40:36 -0800
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/0.9.2

On 2019-11-08 00:29, Marcel wrote:
On 11/8/19 3:01 PM, Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss) wrote:
A typical GNU/Linux distribution include more than just GNU userland
on top of Linux. It can be argued that the name GNU/Linux is incomplete
and excludes contributions from other sources, the same way that
Linux alone excludes GNU.

A similar and arguably even less fair situation arises with some
distributions, to the point that some people come to associate the whole
system with the name of the distribution.

In the case of GNU, as I read it from the GNU website[^1], the concern
seems to be less for the appreciation or accolades of receiving credit,
and more for keeping alive the underpinning Free Software philosophy.


If the users never heard of GNU, it could be that because in spite
of 20% (or whatever) of their distro's base installation image being GNU,
they don't use any of it.

They actually use the Linux part of the system, whenever that system
is powered up and running. They're aware that something boots calling
itself Linux, with reams of console messages.

There are "low GNU" systems out there. E.g. embedded Linux-based systems
with a non-GNU C library, BusyBox instead of Coreutils or Bash, and whatnot. Neither OpenSSH nor Dropbear are GNU. systemd isn't GNU. Various networking
utilities aren't GNU. "util-linux" isn't GNU.

How about servers? Apache isn't GNU; node.js isn't GNU; Perl, Python,
Ruby, PHP, ... not GNU again. PostgreSQL: not GNU.

A lot of the *payload* stuff that actually powers what people are doing
in a visible way to them isn't GNU, unfortunately. And, secondarily,
some of the GNU stuff is commoditized, which is partly due t implementing
standards. Instead of Bison you can use Berkeley Yacc; instead of bash,
you can use zsh, dash, and others. GCC has alternatives now. GNU libc
also, and so it goes.

Here is something ironic: the uname program is from  GNU Coreutils.
(Or *a* uname command that is commonly installed, anyway):

  $ uname --version | head -2
  uname (GNU coreutils) 8.28
  Copyright (C) 2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Yet, the content comes from the kernel system call:

  $ uname -a
Linux box 4.15.0-22-generic #24-Ubuntu SMP Wed May 16 12:15:17 UTC 2018 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

This reinforces to the users that they are in something called Linux.

Maybe uname should check that the sysname member of struct utsname
starts with "Linux" and add "GNU/" to the output.

(And then, why not just do it unconditionally! GNU/SunOS could be
printed on Solaris. Hey, if you're running GNU uname, your system
must be GNU/something.)

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