Re: Linux isn't an operating system

Alan Cox (
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 13:45:13 +0000 (GMT)

> I would expect that most of the people who speak of "the Linux
> operating system" think of this as just a minor lack of precision.

Its no more/less precise than the idea that Linux is primarily GNU code
or even needs FSF code (though without the FSF code it would probably
have been a shadow of its current self by now).

> discourage communication and cooperation. When the people who use
> what is essentially the GNU system think of themselves as "Linux
> users", and not as "GNU users", often they don't see a reason
> cooperate with the people who maintain the GNU software. This leads
> to version-skew and unnecessary incompatibility.

I've some peripheral experience of GNU maintainers including patches
that never got in to the mainstream GNU code for a very long time [We
for example use Algorithmics MIPS tools based on GNU code not GNU's
own code because the Algorithmics ELF stuff worked, was contributed back
to GNU and nothing had happened since]. Other changes like the fix to
make dc handle the 'P' command that were contributed by Linux users
over a year ago never got put in either. Thats one reason for version
skew .. keeping up.

That says to me the maintainers need to work more closely, and maybe
with more of them.

> One way to help unify the community, and gently encourage more
> cooperation, is to use the term "Linux-based GNU system" to
> describe these systems more accurately.

Do you realise RMS how much some people resent the GNU way of thinking
thats gone through the years from missing out basing Hurd on UZI,
concentrating on the grand goals of the Hurd(see "second system effect")
and saying Linux was an irrelevant stopgap to what people now see almost
as a borg like 'assimilation' attempt.

I'm not saying these people are right, but do be aware of the attitude.