Re: Linux isn't an operating system

Ulrich Windl (
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 15:39:12 +0100

On 6 Mar 96 at 6:33, lilo wrote:

> On Wed, 6 Mar 1996, Richard Stallman wrote:
> > But aside from being unfair (which by itself would not be worth
> > fussing about), it also tends to split the community and thus
> > 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.
> Linux users use quite a bit of GNU software, and we're all grateful that
> it's available. We also use a fair amount of non-GNU software. I don't
> believe it's a fair characterization to consider Linux a ``GNU-based
> system.'' There are very few cases in which we are using GNU software in

Honestly, how far do you get without any GNU software after mounting
your root filesystem? What do you use to compile your kernel? Which
tools do you use to make a patch, debug, etc? Without Richard
Stallman we probably wouldn't have the GPL; therefore I'll also
consider X11 as GNU software. I couldn't afford to run UN*X; in fact
I wouldn't have bought a new computer just to run Windoze'95.

> which some alternative doesn't, or couldn't, exist. All kudos to
> GNU-*style* licensing, which is another matter entirely....
> > 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.
> Linux is nothing if not pluralistic. Too much unification is probably not

Implementing POSIX is almost the opposite. Just look at all these
early DOS C compilers; completely incompatible.

> the most useful thing in the world. It discourages the diversity which has
> been one of Linux' strengths.

Improving does not mean losing freedom to make decisions. You should
want to make perfect software, not to make a new standard. If you do
the former, you'll have good chances for the latter as well.

> There are many GNU-based Linux systems. Unless one is a GNU developer,
> though, one is less likely to consider one's system a ``Linux-based GNU
> system,'' and justifiably so.

Back to the beginning: If you install a Linux system, how far would
you go without ... gzip ...? Maybe you'd have to pay licence fees for

> lilo

Just another opinion
Ulrich Windl Klinikum der Universitaet Regensburg
Rechenzentrum DV-med Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11
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