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

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Thu Sep 13 16:24:44 GMT 2007

Hugh Fisher wrote on 13/9/07 5:30 PM:
> Richard Stallman continues to inflate himself in this
> online interview:
> <http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index.php/id;211669437;pp;1>
>> In 1992, the GNU system was complete except for the kernel. (Our own
>> kernel project, started in 1990, was going slowly.) In February 1992,
>> Linus Torvalds changed the license of Linux, making it free software.
>> 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.

Someone brought up POSIX, which leads to other places...

1. GNU did a classic "embrace and extend" on the Unix (BSD & System V)
world -
   there are more options than a flock of migrating geese just on 'echo'
and 'ls'
   There was a raging argument, pre-GNU, on overloading commands with
            "cat -v considered harmful"

   RMS & friends invented "embrace and extend" long before Microsoft got

2. GNU was supposed to be a unencumbered re-implementation of BSD.
    - So why are the two command sets so different now?
    - Why when the BSD/System V lawsuit was settled (by 'old' SCO
dropping the case),
      did the FSF *not* merge the codebases?

    FSF/RMS have a very strong agenda - and it isn't about great code or
facilitating others.

3. GNU not only ignored a bunch of Unix fundamental design principles,
they went in exactly the opposite direction:
    - Unix was based on a simple principle: "Less is More"
    - features were only included if necessary and could be properly
      [V6 came with paging, not Virtual Memory, because there was no
*definitive* solution at the time]
    - and duplication was avoided. tools did just *one* thing, extremely
well - and were fitted together with pipes & the shell.

    - GNU encourages & rewards code bloat - it violates 27 good design
principles before it even starts :-)

    - It wasn't all their fault - the principles were lost pre-GNU []:
          BSD broke the rule for system commands (2-7 lowercase letters,
          'backup' and 'restore' are BSD names.
          grep, ls, cat, ar, tar, dd are 'original' Unix names: System
commands don't pollute the namespace.

       RMS is damned for never learning the Unix principles and design
rules. Arrogance and Ignorance in spades.

4. It isn't Linux, it isn't even GNU/Linux [or LiGNUx as RMS once tried on]
    - the distros we call "linux" are really:
            "an O/S based on Unix from Bell Labs"

    If *anyone* has the right to attribution, it is the *original* 1969
authors - Ken and Dennis.
    The ones who took out a patent on the set uid bit and immediately
put it in the public domain.
    Something like 9 of the 14 original V6 system calls are there
unchanged in POSIX (and hence Linux) today.
    This in software written before a large fraction of people on this
list were born. That's impressive.
    And where are the accolades for these guys??  They shun publicity
and are truly humble people.
    Their achievements speak for them (ken was world computer chess
champion with 'Belle' for 2-3 years)

    RMS actively promotes himself and seeks disciples and accolades. He
pretends it's about the code...

5. RMS has made a contribution that changed (shook?) the world and will
do so for a century - GPL.

    It's simple and brilliant.

    It is the *single* most important reason we have the distros we
refer to as "Linux" today.
    It is the *only* reason that so many vendors (IBM, HP, SUN, ...) pay
very large sums
    for big teams of professionals to keep building a shared codebase.

    This is the reason Unix (System V or BSD) did not slam dunk the
world - a free to use, single codebase.
    And is probably a major factor in why Linux, arriving ~5 years
later, trounced "Plan 9".
    If BSD had been open to use like Linux, it is extremely unlikely we
would have MS-Windows today.

6. And how did RMS get his RSI (the given reason that Hurd work first
    From his own wretched editor - emacs...
    If it weren't for hundreds of others similarly afflicted, it would
be ironic or divine retribution.
   [Bill Joy (vi) and Ken Thompson (ed) don't suffer self-inflicted RSI]

7. The overwhelming power of Open Source is *not* "Free" in any sense.

    It is transparency & empowerment - "Read the Source, Luke" - to
quote an old fav.

    I'd agree there is a right for every user to be able to demand, as
part of the sale,
    full human-usable source code for any software product. But
constrained usage conditions are only fair.

    Money is an evil we have to live with - people need to be able to
trade their efforts for income.
    To think otherwise is incredible.  Controlling greed and
exploitation - equitable charging - is another matter...
    [For RMS to be absolutely consistent in his beliefs and actions, he
needs to repudiate money entirely.]
    [He cannot and will not. If 'software needs to be free', then all
work needs to be on the same basis.]

    Truly "Free Goods", such as fish in the ocean, only get exploited
and most likely wiped out.
    "Free" as in beer, is a very, very bad idea to force on anyone &
    But anyone can willing choose to gift their work for the public good
- a very different proposition.

    Open Source - real shared 'free to use' code with source - was the
oil that ran and created systems
    in the first 25 years of computing.
    Every credible architecture was mediated by user community
contribution and improvement.

    Unix provided the basis for what we have now:
    - a common language and libraries (C, POSIX)
    - common toolchain
    - distribution, packaging and patching processes
    - read & write access to repositories [UCB 1.0 was a tape shared at
a conference...]

    Our modern "Open Source" world is facilitated by the 'Net and cheap,
plentiful hardware.
    But the origins go back to before 1950 when even the designs of
computers were shared...

8.  Don't pretend that FSF/RMS created Open Source. They didn't, not any
part of the concept/process.

    RMS is to be applauded and has left a huge legacy - the GPL and all
the work that has flowed from it.
    But for me it is badly tainted - there are many negatives that may
never be eradicated.

Thanks for starting this thread!


> 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
> "principal developer" of Linux are laughable. Calling the
> system "GNU/Linux" overstates their contribution and ignores
> the good work of too many others.
>     cheers,
>     Hugh

Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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