[svlug] Bet you can't do _this_ in Windows....

Rick Schultz bloodyvikings at sbcglobal.net
Mon Jun 27 18:46:39 PDT 2005


On Mon, Jun 27, 2005 at 02:45:25PM -0700, Steve wrote:
> I've always kinda had a problem with the term 'GNU/Linux' - simply
> because a lot of what makes a Linux system _is NOT_ GNU anymore.

You're blurring the distinction between the kernel, the operating
system, and applications.  The kernel is named Linux.  People who use
the term "GNU/Linux" are using it to name their operating system,
describing the fact that they're running the operating system from the
GNU project on top of the Linux kernel.  This term fits every
"Linux distribution" I know of (not just Debian).

While for most users what "makes" a system is the applications it runs,
those applications, in turn, rely on a set of features provided by the
combination of the GNU operating system and the Linux kernel.  In some
cases, these system-level services could be provided by another
operating system (e.g., Samba and Apache both run on Solaris).  But in
most cases, folks who declare they're running "Linux" are running an
operating system derived from both GNU and Linux, and neither would be
of any use on their machines without the other.

> For instance, shouldn't we have 'GNU/Apache/Linux' ?  or
> 'GNU/X11/Samba/Apache/OpenOffice/Linux' etc etc.

Here's an excuse for me to use the term "thought experiment": imagine
two identical "GNU/X11/Samba/Apache/OpenOffice/Linux" machines.  On one
machine, remove X11/Samba/Apache/OpenOffice; on the other, remove
everything "GNU".

The first machine will still boot up, and while it won't have your
desired applications running, you'll have everything you need to
install, compile, or even develop and debug the rest.

The second machine is a doorstop.  In fact, every useful combination of
the above will contain both Linux and GNU.

> And for that matter - why isn't it 'GNU/FreeBSD' ??

That depends whether you mean FreeBSD, the operating system, or the GNU
userland and libraries running against a FreeBSD kernel.

"FreeBSD" isn't called "GNU/FreeBSD" because it's not a GNU-derived
operating system.  In fact, their stated goal is to replace any GNU
software distributed with FreeBSD with their own, BSD-licensed versions.
(http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/introduction.html#FREEBSD-GOALS).
(Does anyone here happen to know the current status of this?  I couldn't
google up a list of GPL'd packages currently in FreeBSD).

The GNU operating system running on the FreeBSD kernel might accurately
be called "GNU/FreeBSD"; but it seems that the developers chose a name
to more accurately reflect that it's only the FreeBSD kernel, hence
"GNU/kFreeBSD".

http://www.debian.org/ports/kfreebsd-gnu/

-rick





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