GNU Project + Linux = GNUX
By - Namiki2500
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Nice try, Richard Stallman
GNU software is very prevalent on OS distributions that utilize the Linux kernel, yes. But I see a couple issues:
- GNU contributes to free software movement, but that doesn't entitle them to be a namesake. Aside from the point that they contribute to the open source software movement as well, just because they contribute to open source/free software, doesn't mean they should be in the name. Lots of groups contribute heavily to free and open source software, and they don't all get to be in the name. Should we call it GNUXILLA, since Mozilla also contributes to free and open source software?
- The use of the Linux kernel does not require the use of GNU software, so why should it be in the name? Yes, most OS distributions using the Linux kernel use GNU software too. But you could also argue that lots also ship with Firefox, or any number of other software. Should these also be in the name? Yes, GNU software has always been something special, providing utilities on top of the kernel for a more useful OS environment. But there are alternatives to GNU software, so at this point, no matter how prevalent it is, it's still just software included to improve the OS environment. For example, I did a bit of quick research into replacing GNU core utils with busybox, and the first result was doing this in Ubuntu. The caveat is that it may be difficult to match the full feature set of the GNU software, but it didn't seem technically possible to accomplish.
- Expanding on the last point, what should we call individual distributions? Picking Fedora as an example, there is a vast array of software included by default. The Linux kernel, Firefox, GNOME, you name it. Should it be Fedora GNUXOMEFOX? What happens when a user removes Firefox and installs Chromium? Should it technically become GNUXOMIUM? Or when they install Chromium and keep Firefox, do they now technically have Fedora GNUXOMFOXIUM? Maybe Fedora GNU/Linux+GNOME+Firefox+Chromium? At some point, the merit of the Linux kernel gets lost in the sea of software we decide to acknowledge, and GNU will, too.
GNU software has been a huge benefit to the open source software community, and is very widely leveraged. But it is not the only software that goes into an OS distribution using the Linux kernel. It is not a technical or legal requirement for the use of the kernel. It has a special relationship with the Linux kernel history, yes, but there is plenty of software that has a special relationship in the environment of operating systems using the Linux kernel. This sort of discussion is good, and it lets us explore these relationships, but I think we need to be careful not to place one piece of software or organization higher in a way that detracts from all the work done by so many other organizations.
Personally, I draw a parallel to Windows: we use the term Microsoft Windows to refer to the operating system, and the NT kernel to describe the kernel. Windows is the overarching environment, of which the NT kernel is one part. A major part, but still a part. Operating systems that use the Linux kernel do not have an analogous term to describe the overarching environment: using GNU/Linux works, but like my points point out, these operating systems use much more than just GNU software, and GNU software is not a technical requirement for their most basic use. I personally use the term "Linux" or "Linux distro(bution)" to refer to any operating system that utilizes the Linux kernel, which is often the most important factor when distinguishing between various operating systems: the kernel. Perhaps the community as a whole needs to come together and decide what nomenclature should be used to identify the overarching environment for operating systems that use the Linux kernel.
> Perhaps the community as a whole needs to come together and decide
Lets's settle emacs vs vi, kde vs gnome, tabs vs spaces, package managers, and init system too while at it.
That's a fair point. I don't think it's quite the same situation, since those come down to personal preference. But I agree that it's not likely that a central choice could be made to come up with the term to define any OS environment using the Linux kernel, there's no way all groups will agree on a name. For me, the takeaway is that people shouldn't try to force the term "GNU/Linux" on people, as I think the comments here widely suggest it's no longer the best term to use. I think that it *can* be used, just as "Linux" can be used, but in a context referring to an OS using the Linux kernel, not the kernel itself. I think people *should* go for clarity: use "Linux" to refer to the OS environment, and "Linux kernel" to refer to the kernel alone. But of course that's my personal thoughts, and anyone else can use whatever combination of bytes/letters/phonemes they wish to (hopefully) make this distinction
I rather believe more and more Linux is GNU less. The GNU compiler is starting to have an alternative. Many old school tools have modern replacements. If someone really wanted Linux without GNU it would soon be frasible., While GNU kernel... Well..
It's not fair to give them credit and then ignore the rest of user space as if GNU software was somehow more important. The one thing every single Linux distribution has in common is the Linux kernel.
The amount of software in user space is not that important. What matters is that GNU set the example and provided the tools to make free software. That is collaboration of programmers & hackers from all over the world in order to build software not for any other reason but to use it themselves.
Linux as a kernel installed in the majority of the devices today, yet most users don't feel that is similar to what they use and want. That is because they refer to community projects (GNU and related) and not the corporate backed ones.
> The amount of software in user space is not that important.
Of course it is important. People call it GNU/Linux because it literally means GNU programs running on top of Linux. According to POSIX, stuff like `cp` and `mv` are part of the operating system. That's the only reason why GNU is even mentioned at all.
The fact is you can delete all the GNU software and replace it with anything you want. Maybe you'd rather use `busybox`. Maybe you want to rebuild the entire user space from scratch. You can do it. Linux stays constant, though. Linux is always there.
While GNU leads the way in free software as a philosophy, open source software was used and shared around the world before GNU came along. It was more in line with the way BSDs are open source rather than copyleft, but to suggest that GNU set the example for things like the Linux kernel or modern distributions is a bit of a stretch.
I don't think it's fair to call Linux GNU/Linux or GNUX or (I've seen it on reddit) LIGNUX for the simple fact that some linux distribution uses the gnu tools. It was fair at some point but it's not today.
That said, the GNU/linux could be used way more often by referencing the fact that Linux is under the GPL witch is the GNU general public licence and make an emphase that way about the politics behind the project.
I'm not seeing this debate in the BSD world, maybe because both the licence and the product have the same name, but on linux we seems to have this question / debate every weeks or so.
So call it GNU/Linux if you think about the licence, or the politics, just linux for the kernel, and by the name of the distrib, if you're talking about one. for everything else, let's just make it simple (that how the language works by the way) and let's all stick with Linux :)
GNUX; pronounced "nukes".
Lignux. Silent g.
That's not really about the subject. Buy i would like to say I was pretty impressed when I discovered GNU means "Gnu Is not Unix"
Pretty interesting comments. I learned a few things from them. I agree with the following the most:"It was fair at some point but it's not today."
Isn’t it already done with GNU/Linux? I think that gives them their (well-earned!) recognition :)