[clug] Kernels are easy, ls is the hard part!

Michael Cohen scudette at gmail.com
Thu Sep 13 11:20:04 GMT 2007

On Thu, Sep 13, 2007 at 05:30:11PM +1000, Hugh Fisher wrote:
> >The kernel Linux filled the last major gap in GNU; the combination,
> >GNU/Linux, was the first free operating system that could run on a
> >PC. The system started out as GNU with Linux added. Please don't call
> >it "Linux;" if you do that, you give the principal developer none of
> >the credit. Please call it "GNU/Linux" and give us equal mention.
> >
> The arrogance of this takes my breath away.

Hugh, I think you are missing the whole point. Whether you like it or
not any piece of code licenced under the GPL falls under the name gnu
software - and by extension is represented by the FSF. Stallman is not
claiming that he personally wrote all the code in the average linux
distro - he is just saying that it is gnu code (i.e. released under
gpl). On this point he is correct.

> While all these developments were going on, exactly what was
> the FSF doing? They were writing implementations of the Unix
> command line environment as defined by the POSIX specs. Bell
> Labs, BSD, and others had done the initial design; and the
> POSIX committees did the hard grind of agreeing on details
> and resolving conflicts. The FSF then handed out man pages
> for the POSIX spec to volunteers and told them to "write this".
> Wonderful.

Lets not forget the true contribution of the FSF - a whole OS kernel of
their own called emacs - at the time way ahead of its time for it would
take until the blazingly fast machines of the new millenea to run it at
a reasonable speed, but that lisp was truely enlightened.

> And of course the one thing the FSF couldn't do was the bit
> that was absolutely essential, a kernel. Proprietary companies

See emacs comment above... There was no itch to scratch once you were in
emacs you were in heavenly bliss - you did not need a kernel.

> If someone removed TCP/IP from your Linux system, perhaps
> replacing it with AppleTalk or IPX, you'd notice and complain
> very quickly. Ditto if X Windows were taken away. (And for
> those of you reading this in a text environment, SSH was
> written by BSD developers, not the FSF.) But if your CLI
> environment was replaced by the BSD equivalents I think it
> would be a while before you noticed, and if your kernel was

I beg to differ as someone who unfortunately had to tear many a hair out
dealing with retarded implementations of simple utilities on posix
systems (wtf - grep has no -r flag???). Besides if you removed emacs
from most systems, those truely in the know would be helplessly

> recompiled with the Intel C compiler (for x86, IBM if PPC,

Im not sure the intel C compiler is free.

> etc) I doubt you'd notice at all unless you happen to be an
> actual kernel developer.

One of the strengths of the linux kernel - its amazing portability is
enhanced by the fact that gcc supports so many platforms - no other
compiler comercial or free can do this. Not only does gcc support
different platforms via plugins but also different languages (e.g.
java, c++, aida etc).

> The FSF contribution to Linux is important, because everyone
> who contributes is important. But the GNU bits are neither
> original nor difficult to replace, and any claims to be the

All software licenced under GPL is a "GNU bit" because it is released
under the "GNU public licence"...


More information about the linux mailing list