I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you're referring to as GNU/Linux, is in fact, Linux/GNU, or as I've recently taken to calling it, Linux. GNU is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning Linux system, made useful by the hardware resource management, drivers, and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

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Linux/GNU would be wrong, because principle developer and who did the most contribution should be named first.
For example it's called MIT/GNU scheme because MIT is principle contributor.

@redstarfish @jaxter184
Surely we should call it Turing/GNU/Linux, then. Or perhaps Hopper/GNU/Linux.

@swashberry @jaxter184

I don't know these people, if you think they should be mentioned as well, then mention them . Calling it only "Linux" is wrong, which gives all the credit to Mr. Torvalds who doesn't even agree with free software ideals. Calling it "Linux" only boost his ideas i.e., open source. There were many many people and projects that have contributed to the system we use today.


@swashberry @jaxter184

As GNU Project started the whole thing, has done the largest single contribution and provides some core components (e.g., glibc) without which there would not be any system. it's only natural to ask for at least equal mention.

What do you mean when you say "the whole thing?" Do you mean the Linux kernel? Because no, that was all Torvalds. The GNU Project have written a staggering amount of software for which they deserve credit, including their own kernel, but Linux is not one of them.

We might as well give Alan Turing (inventor of the automated computer) or Grace Hopper (general-purpose programming languages) a mention in the name of every modern computer system.


When I say the whole thing, it means the system (kernel and userspace and other necessary components). Kernel is *not* an operating system barely enough to programs.

"In the 1970s, every operating system worthy of the name included command processors, assemblers, compilers, interpreters, debuggers, text editors, mailers, and much more. ITS had them, Multics had them, VMS had them, and Unix had them. The GNU operating system would include them too."


Also the names you mentioned may have done important contributions in field of computer in general. But I don't see how they have contributed actively to development of GNU/Linux system.

@redstarfish @swashberry @jaxter184 the modern linux distribution has many more components not provided by GNU. What about KDE? Freedesktop? etv

@redstarfish @denza252
> There is no one obvious right place to set the threshold, so wherever you set it, we won't argue against it.

That's a lie. We would not be having this conversation if they were not arguing against other people choosing their own threshold. It is also deceptive of them to refer to essential non-GNU contributions as "secondary" when it's obvious they see those essential system utilities as beneath them and unworthy of note.

@swashberry @denza252

GNU is principle developer because GNU Project

1) *started* the development of the operating system.

2) Did a major contribution

3) Contributed some of the core system components.

Other people's contributions are secondary to the system because, 1) they weren't developing an operating system. 2) They started later.

@swashberry @denza252

Even Debian acknowledges that:

"A large part of the basic tools that fill out the operating system come from the GNU project; hence the names: GNU/Linux, GNU/kFreeBSD, and GNU/Hurd. These tools are also free."

FSF even funded the intitial development of Debian.

I don't give a single fuck about any ideological differences between Linus Torvalds and His Holiness Richard Stallman. I care about being descriptive and precise in my language.

Does the Linux kernel run my system reliably and effectively? Yes.

Does the GNU kernel run my system reliably and effectively? No, and I'm not going to give credit to anyone for something they didn't do just to push an agenda. I will continue to use the best solution according to my own evaluation.


Linux kernel is unusable without the context of an operating system, at the very least it needs a C Library (GNU C Library in case of GNU operating system) which act as interface between the kernel and other programs.

You may use other C library (e.g., musl) in which case it would cease to be GNU/Linux.

Yes, you can separate the two systems and nothing about either system would change. That is because they are different products. They are both open-source products. The fact that Torvalds chose to use GNU software to interface with his kernel is irrelevant to the ownership of the kernel itself. It's not enough for GNU to get credit for the software that they released to the public for this very purpose, they are demanding pride of place as the lead developers of Torvald's work.

And then they have the audacity to condemn Torvalds for not advocating for the one and only interpretation of the Four Freedoms that they approve of. They're not interested in other people doing their own thing, they want ideological homogeneity among the free software community.

@swashberry @redstarfish

Well, they are two different produkt, so it does make sense to call it GNU+Linux of both of the products are used in a distro.

@selea @swashberry @redstarfish

Considering that the most popular Linux product by far is likely Android which relies substantially less on the GNU ecosystem, it's a distinction that maybe becoming more important as time goes on. Actually, Android is a perfect example of why Linux by itself doesn't necessarily fix anything. Congratulations, you're fully locked down device has an open source kernel.
@selea @redstarfish @swashberry your. You're fully locked down device doesn't know basic word selection.if you're using speech recognition

@sj_zero @selea

Every time I see a completely locked down Android smartphone (in which you can't install your own version of Android), I remember how Linux, kernel developers didn't upgrade to GPLv3 which has a anti tivoization clause, that particularly forbids locking down GPLv3 licensed software.

@selea @redstarfish
Ah, see now you raise an interesting point. It's ultimately the distributor that decides what software goes into the packages they release, so the most consistent solution would be to go off of what the distributor calls it.

Nevertheless we collectively call these distros "Linux" because the reason these distributions are all related is because they rely on the Linux kernel, the foundation of the system that makes the distros compatible with one another.

@swashberry @selea

"Linux" is *not* a foundation. Linux is just another program in an operating system that allocates computer's resources to other programs and protects them of each other.

And what makes distros compatible with one another is not "Linux" but the *POSIX* standard.

@redstarfish @swashberry @selea none of the distros are adhering to the posix standard anymore.

Unless you only use a very small subset of what's available in the kernel or the core utils for that matter. They crammed a whole bunch of extensions into every tool.

If the kernel is not the foundation of the operating system then what is? The userland? Because we've already established that you can replace the whole userland and not change anything about the kernel software. You yourself even nominated an alternative to the GNU C library, arguably one of the most important components of the ecosystem of a computer.

GNU software is not what all of the systems we collectively call Linux have in common. Linux is.

@swashberry GNU is an operating system that can be paired with several kernels, two of which are maintained by the GNU project, and at least two of which are maintained as their own projects. The two kernels maintained and distributed by the GNU project are Hurd, and Linux-libre. The two other kernels that GNU is used with is the Linux kernel, and the FreeBSD kernel (I wouldn't be surprised if someone has also run GNU with other kernels though).

As the link @redstarfish posted says, there is no foundation of the operating system, because an operating system is not a house.

@robby @redstarfish
I don't want to sound unnecessarily dismissive, but your objection makes no sense. An operating system isn't a chaotic Lovecraftian mass of software buzzing around in your computer. It has to maintain a structure in order to remain functional.

The lowest layer of the operating system is the kernel because it's the only part of the operating system which interacts directly with the hardware. In that way it is very much like the foundation of a house.


See the fallacy of the "Kernel is Foundation" argument:

Honestly, did you even read the whole faq?

@redstarfish First of all, the fact that you disagree with the reasoning of an argument doesn't make it a fallacy.

Secondly, no. I find the GNU project's reasoning flawed for reasons I've already been over and no amount of restating the argument is going to change that. I have no obligation to comply with their attempts to police other peoples' language.

Thirdly, I'm having this discussion with you, not with them. I would appreciate it if you would reciprocate.

@swashberry @redstarfish

The lowest layer of the operating system is the kernel because it’s the only part of the operating system which interacts directly with the hardware.

If that were true, executables would be completely portable that target Linux, regardless of hardware. The most easily demonstratable case where this is not true is with CPUs of different architectures.

The Linux kernel plays an important role in orchestrating access to hardware, and does provide APIs to interface with certain kinds of hardware. But it isn’t “the only part of the operating system which interacts directly with the hardware”.

Let me ask you this: what operating system does the Apple iMac ship with: macOS or XNU? What operating system does the Microsoft Surface ship with: Windows or NT? What operating system does a Samsung phone ship with: Android or Linux?

Here is a less technical hypothetical which demonstrates a practical advantage to saying GNU instead of Linux. Let’s say I am someone who is interested in trying out an operating system unfamiliar to me, and I only have experience with Windows. I’m told to check out “Linux”, so I look it up online. I find , and which I (not hypothetically) believe are the three official sites for Linux. The first site doesn’t help me at all. The second site is very confusing, and the closest I can get to finding a download is a link to the third one (after a bit of digging around). The third link only provides the source code, which I believe even people with many years of experience using Linux would agree is a daunting way to get started.

Now, same situation but instead I’m told to check out “GNU”. I search online for GNU and I find I click on the big “Try GNU/Linux” button, which brings me to a list of operating systems to download. Each of these has links to download isos that I can write to a drive and boot from, just like any other operating system.

The operating system is GNU, and just calling it that is the least confusing. GNU can be paired with several kernels, including (and most commonly) Linux. Linux is used in several operating systems, including GNU, Android, ChromeOS, etc.

I tested your hypothetical by opening a private tab and going to Google to search for "Linux." Like most normies I immediately went for the Wikipedia page prominently displayed.

First paragraph told me that it's an operating system kernel available in several distributions. Second paragraph told me some troublemakers called GNU insist on having their name added to it and are causing controversy. Third paragraph listed popular Linux distributions and their Wikipedia pages.

@swashberry Wikipedia also says is the official website, which I think more people navigate to instead of actually reading the article.

@robby @redstarfish
I'm happy to concede that the name of a kernel is often different from the brand name of the distribution, but the crucial difference between Linux and your examples is that Linux and GNU are two separate entities and are designed to be treated as such; this is not a normal circumstance for the examples you gave.

I never see BSD software developers demanding that their names be added to FreeBSD because of the userland software they wrote. Do you?

@swashberry You are right, most operating systems maintain their own kernel. As I have previously mentioned, GNU maintains and distributes not one, but two kernels: Hurd and Linux-libre.

I never see BSD software developers demanding that their names be added to FreeBSD because of the userland software they wrote.

I don’t understand what you mean. BSD is half of the name FreeBSD.

Good for the Hurd developers, hopefully their kernel will be usable someday, it would be awesome to see microkernels take off. Linux-libre is openly a fork of Linux, so no points there.

Back on-topic, if GNU software works and is used on these and many other platforms then I don't see how it's helpful to treat every operating system that runs GNU software as if it's just GNU, especially since we established GNU and Torvalds are not the only developers involved.


Linux-libre is openly a fork of Linux, so no points there.

This contradicts your previous post: ​

It’s ultimately the distributor that decides what software goes into the packages they release, so the most consistent solution would be to go off of what the distributor calls it.


Linux-libre is a part of the GNU project, maintained and distributed by the GNU project. To say it’s the same kernel because it’s a fork is to say that Ubuntu is Debian.

Back on-topic, if GNU software works and is used on these and many other platforms then I don’t see how it’s helpful to treat every operating system that runs GNU software as if it’s just GNU, especially since we established GNU and Torvalds are not the only developers involved.

I don’t really know how to respond to this. You don’t see how it’s helpful to call GNU “GNU”?

I’m also still curious what you meant by the BSD vs FreeBSD comment, I feel like I’m missing something there.

At the end of the day, this is really a ship of theseus problem. If you replace one component of the GNU operating system with a software not maintained / distributed by the GNU project, is it no longer the GNU operating system? I would argue not, just like replacing the steering wheel on a ship does not make it a new ship. Some argue it’s important to mention the component which was replaced (GNU/Linux, ship+new steering wheel), but I find that needlessly confusing. What you are arguing is to name the whole system after the one component swapped into the existing system. That’s like calling the ship “new steering wheel”.

It’s funny to me when people say things like “the GNU project is just trying to put their name on other peoples work”. They are just naming the ship, not the steering wheel (and often even mentioning the new steering wheel, because the people who made the steering wheel like to put their name on other peoples work 🤔).

No it is not a contradiction because GNU are not the only ones who distribute Linux systems, no matter how much they might like to be. They don't control what software gets distributed alongside theirs any more than the developers of BSD systems do, and I have *never* heard anyone argue that it should be called BSD/Linux no matter how many BSD components are incorporated into Linux systems. That was the point I was making.

Oh, and as for Linux-libre being a GNU project, fine, maybe I was being a bit harsh.

Congratulations, GNU, after completely and utterly failing to make a kernel yourself you took someone else's, stripped it of several features and quality-of-life improvements, and slapped your brand on it. Good job! Who's a big boy?

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@swashberry Has anyone taken Linux and replaced the kernel in a BSD system with it before? I've never seen a system like that. Definitely no popular distributions. Maybe some BSD developers would prefer a system like that not just be called "Linux" if it was a popular enough system.
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The kernel, Linux is developed by Linus Torvalds, and GNU Project never asked for credit for the kernel. GNU asks credit for the things that GNU has been developing. Both existence of many GNU components and Linux, the kernel makes an operating system.

I think you are confusing what a kernel and what an operating system is:

Anyways no one's taking credit from Linus. He developed Linux, the kernel. That's why we insist on calling "GNU/Linux" and not "GNU".

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