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- Subject: Re: GNU/Linux
- From: Alessandro Rubini <>
- Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 23:48:45 +0100
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- Resent-Date: 31 Oct 1999 22:57:29 -0000
- Resent-Message-ID: <SwLmv.A.R0G.YlMH4@murphy>
I changed the subject, as this is the actual matter of discussion.
David Lawyer suggests:
>> quality documentation for the GNU/Linux operating system.
Joshua Drake comments:
> The only Linux distribution that claims to be GNU/Linux is Debian. I
> believe that we should say something to the effect of:
> high quality documentation for the Linux operating system and it's
> derivatives??? or maybe just remove the GNU/Linux and say Linux.
The same Joshua Drake states:
> No... GNOME and KDE are NOT Linux projects, it makes more sense for them
> to be with the OSWG. In fact we should mirror the OSWG and they us as they
> document things we dont.
> We should help with the Documentation on using KDE with Linux but not with
> KDE as a whole.
Then, I dare ask him: "what does the word ``Linux'' mean?"
If KDE is not Linux, then Linux is the kernel proper (with, maybe, the
few packages that are Linux-kernel-specific: kbd, util-linux,
ipchains, third party drivers -- not much more). But if you only want
to document Linux, then you should only document the kernel and
specific tools. Then, most of the current LDP stuff is definitely out
If Linux is the whole operating system, then are not GNOME and KDE
part of the operating system? What is the argument to draw the line?
In my opinion, the LDP should collect and organize documentation for
the Linux kernel and free software that can be run on the Linux kernel
-- what typically constitutes a so-called Linux distribution,
excluding non-free components.
I think that such kind of stuff should be called GNU/Linux, not to
give credits to GNU tools (which, though being basic tools, constitute
a small percentage of current distributions), but to give credit to
the *idea* of delivering a free operating system, and 15+ years of
activity pushing towards that aim. And Linux really is, strictly
speaking, just the kernel.
While I was a firm opponent to RMS' GNU/Linux naming, I'm now with
him. Why? The problem is that anybody is delivering ``Linux'' stuff
in all fields; most of those implementations are strictly proprietary,
and outside of the scope of the LDP. The ``Linux'' word is going to be
fashionable, and not related tight to the product being libre
vs. proprietary. If we want to underline that our focus if on libre
software, ``GNU/Linux'' is the right word to use.
I myself tend to speak about my stuff as GNU/Linux, as more and more
people think that "Linux is like Windows but not compatible, and it
happens to be free like Windows, which I found preinstalled on my new
computer". Using the "GNU" modifier I underline my focus on free
(libre) software, even though Linux distributions often include
While I know the question is debated all over the world and it's
incredibly easy to turn mailing lists into flame arenas, I post my
*strong* vote for supporting the name ``GNU/Linux'' in the manifesto.
And yes, I think all free software (that runs on Linux) fits the LDP
scope, including GUI's.
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