[nSLUG] Richard Stallman in Halifax

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 18:04:40 AST 2009

2009/1/29 Rich <budman85 at eastlink.ca>:
> Daniel Morrison wrote:

>> 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*.

_I_ know this. My opinion is that RMS did not sufficiently stress this
for the lay people in the audience.

> 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.

Sure... but I think you are missing that what I was saying (in quotes)
was my interpretation of how a lay person might interpret Richard's
lecture, rather than a reflection of reality.

> Deciding to make the kernel last, was actually great planning.

If RMS had explained this, I think it would go a long way to
encouraging people to accept his request to call it GNU/Linux.  It's
not that the kernel was so monumentally hard that the FSF couldn't
manage it.  Rather it was done this way by design, and finally, by
coincidence, a free kernel became available at just the right time.

> It's because the kernel loads the operating system from the get-go.
> 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.

Yes, in general you're right.  But it would be wrong for a distro to
modify the kernel to say "Loading GNU/Linux...." because it's not.
You can load a bare Linux kernel without any GNU utilities. (You won't
be able to do anything once it's loaded -- it will panic with no root
filesystem and no init, but it will load!)

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

This is why RMS is switching to French I noticed?  The FSF version of
the Linux kernel is "Linux Libre", and he announced that the stickers
were "gratis".  The word 'free' in English is too confusing.

> 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.

Free only for whomever could afford a source license, and even then
could not be redistributed.  That's like saying I went to a free
showing of "Batman Begins", except that I had to pay $10 to get in,
and they confiscated my video recorder!


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