[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: "MIT/GNU/Linux"

From: Matthew Flaschen
Subject: Re: "MIT/GNU/Linux"
Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2006 12:13:16 -0500
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20061115)

Tim X wrote:
> So then, should that be Red Hat Enterprise GNU Linux?

Yes, that would be more accurate (and fair).

> Also, when Larry initially announced that Oracle would do their own
> distribution, while he indicated it would likely be based on RH
> Enterprise, he was not prepared to commit to that. I was not aware he
> (or Oracle) had yet made such a commitment.

It is my understanding from reviews (like that it
is based on CentOS, which is in turn recompiled RHEL.
> Obviously, I wasn't clear enough. The point I wanted clarification on
> is whether GNU Linux refers to Linux distributions which comprise of
> only free software or whether it refers to all distributions which use
> both the Linux kernel and GNU utilities and other free software
> regardless of what other non-free software the distribution contains.

Correct, any distribution that is based on both GNU and the Linux kernel
should be called GNU/Linux.  RMS would prefer GNU/Linux distributions
were completely free, but that is separate from the question of naming.

> I think you missed the point. RMS does not like the use of the term
> open source, but prefers free software. 

I'm well aware of that.

The problem is that open source does not necessarily mean free (as in
liberty) as you can have
> software in which the sources are open, but the licensing is
> restrictive and non-free. I personally agree with this distinction
> unless I have misunderstood his arguement (which is possible and why I
> mentioned it.).

This is mostly a misconception.  The reason that Stallman doesn't like
the open source movement is that it is based solely on practical
expediency, while free software is about morality.  I agree with him
here, and prefer "free software".  However, in practice, almost all open
source (as defined by the Open Source Initiative) licenses are also
free.  The Open Source Definition
( has detailed requirements,
including free redistribution (modified or unmodified) for free or for a
fee, and access to source.

> You might believe that this is all self evident, but I have been using
> systems based on the Linux kernel since the first release of Slackware
> and the terminology and how it is applied has not been a static thing.
> The move away from the general term "Linux" to GNU Linux, while
> positive in reducing confusion between the OS and kernel references,
> was not emphasised initially as much as it seems to be now.

Yes, the FSF says ( "It
took a few years for us to realize what a problem this was and ask
people to correct the practice. By that time, the confusion had a big
head start."

> Open source was considered as synonymous with "free software" until Eric
> Raymond and the OSI blurred things

If I understand right, "open source" was not much used at all until the
OSI (and their founders) popularized it.

 and an incresing number of
> companies attempted to jump on the band wagon by releasing their
> sources, but maintaining restrictive licenses etc.

Again, almost every OSI-approved license is also free (as defined by the
FSF).  These restrictive licenses (e.g Microsoft Shared Source) aren't
OSI-approved open source either.

 IIRC, even the
> Linux kernel was not initially released under the GPL. 

No, it was originally under a non-commercial only license, which
wouldn't be OSI-approved open source OR Free.

> it should not be any surprise that some find it unclear exactly when GNU
> Linux is appropriate.

Again, all popular "Linux distributions" are actually GNU/Linux.

You may want to reply off-list.

Matthew Flaschen

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: OpenPGP digital signature

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]