[nSLUG] Richard Stallman in Halifax

Rich budman85 at eastlink.ca
Thu Jan 29 17:09:07 AST 2009

Daniel Morrison wrote:
> 2009/1/29 Joshua B. <juggins at gmail.com>:
>>> On Wed, 28 Jan 2009, Daniel Morrison wrote:
>>>> to bog down a little during the "Gnu-slash-Linux" plea).
>> If he wasn't such an extremist I probably would have found this part
>> annoying but he managed to convince me that it's at least consistent
>> for him to keep harping on this point. However it does raise a
>> paradox. If "open source" wasn't such a pragmatic and ethically
>> agnostic movement would it have been as successful?
>> RMS [...] should admit at least that that bastard is
>> making him famous.
> RMS and FSF were very, very famous long before the term "open source"
> was invented.
> I completely agree with him: calling it GNU/Linux is more appropriate
> and better reflects the origins of the whole system. It's not going to
> happen though, for a large number of reasons, and this means he's
> fighting a losing battle. That makes him sound a bit petulant in his
> plea. It is unfortunate.
I noticed many of the distros are starting to call it GNU/Linux.

> I also think it would be more fruitful of him to explain just what the
> major GNU parts of a complete GNU/Linux system are.  He didn't get
> that point across; only that everything else was done but the kernel.
Actually, he did.  All the utilities had to be rewritten from scratch,
contain no prop. code.  Do a quick look in bin and lib dirs for anything 
with g*.
Also the configure utility made porting VERY possible across multiple
platforms and architectures.  Without it, you know how hard it was getting
things to compile from system to another, let alone different 

My friend in R&D many years ago, back in '92 or so, introduced me to the
philosophy of RMS.   He showed me one of those rare Emacs manuals. hehe
I only wish he was still here so I could tell him about the lecture.  
I'm sure
he's watching from above. :)

> This makes it sound like the kernel is the hardest part.  "Not even
> the great coder RMS could finish his magnum opus until a brilliant kid
> hacker from Finland did the job for him".  
Not really, the kernel was started Hurd in 91 or 92 as well.  The only 
thing is,
Linux got a huge jump by basing it on Mimix.  While Hurd was in early dev,
Linux was already starting to progress.

I think the point that RMS makes is, all the work done since 83 wasn't being
acknowledged or given due respect.  Without it, Linux wouldn't exist, or 
have a small set of utils and libs to begin with.   It had a 10 year 
jump by
adding the GNU contributions.

Deciding to make the kernel last, was actually great planning.  In that
period of time from 83 to 92, computers were changing very rapidly.
I can see why they worked on the utilities and such on existing prop.
os's.  Build all the tools necessary to help build the centerpiece.  Sort
of like building a car, but not having any of the tools to cut and shape
the metal.

> I think I worked out why I got into the habit of calling it "Linux".
> It's because the kernel loads the operating system from the get-go.
> Long before I knew anything at all about free software, I put a
> "Linux" floppy in a drive and turned on the power, and then first
> thing I saw after the standard PC POST messages was:
> Loading Linux..........
> As compared with today's CDROM loaders with graphical splash screens,
> back then I had a lot more time to sit and watch those dots slowly
> extend across the screen as the entire floppy was read one sector at a
> time... loading "Linux".

That's me too.  It's not the user's fault, its the distro's for 
shortening the
name from the get go.  Hopefully, that will change. 


I find many people struggle with the word 'Free'... many relate it to cost,
rather than fundamentals. 

I remember working on some Data General systems years ago.
There wasn't a directory I didn't know on those systems.
I did eventually find the source to all the system binaries.
It was in assembler and C, but at least I could see how the
software worked.  I could actually edit and recompile if I wanted to.
So I guess DG AOS/VS was 'Free' in a sense.


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