Linux or GNU/Linux

Discussion in 'General Linux' started by Bill, May 28, 2012.

  1. Bill

    Bill New Member

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    I know this topic is discussed all the time around the interwebs. It may have already been discussed here, as the search function just brought up Debian related stuff and I did not spend much time lurking. But, what do you think is the correct name for a distribution to be referred to as, Linux or GNU/Linux?

    Me, I see both points of view as valid. Linux is just a kernel and is practically useless on a desktop or server without all of the GNU software that is packaged with it to make an operating system. People in the GNU circle spent years or decades to make the software and their end goal was to make a GNU operating system. Near the end, when all they lacked was a kernel to have a Unix like operating system, along comes Linus with this Linux kernel. Everyone thought, "How great, our operating system is now complete!". But, instead of recognizing all of their work, people started calling the operating system Linux because they liked the name better than GNU.

    On the other hand, people can call anything by what ever name they want. If most of the people started calling a spoon a fork, then the word fork would be the correct name for what used to be called a spoon. Most people call the operating system Linux, not GNU/Linux. And, Linus never forced people to call it Linux, nor did he even promote the name. People just liked it more than GNU, so the name stuck. Why should someone now force people to call it GNU/Linux when Linux flows so naturally off the tongue? What's next, GNU/BSD, GNU/HURD, and GNU/UNIX? I think not.

    How do you learned people feel about this matter? Forgive me if any of my history is slightly off.

  2. KenJackson

    KenJackson Active Member

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    Yes, Debian does indeed provide both GNU/kFreeBSD and GNU/Hurd distributions. Though "GNU/UNIX" would seem awkwardly redundant.

    I personally try to use "GNU/Linux" and "free software" as much as practical out of gratitiude.

    There is nothing inevitable about free software. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Richard Stallman's personal quirks, his drive and determination brought about the world of free (and "open source") software. All of us who use and appreciate it should be grateful to him. And using his preferred terminology shows that gratitude. Even after all these years, I'm still shocked that a self-professed atheist has a better grasp of the meaning of "freedom" than most Christians.
  3. Bill

    Bill New Member

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    Personally, I go back and forth, but generally, I just use Linux.

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