Re: Substituting "Linux" with "GNU/Linux" or "GNU"

Arguments against the term "GNU/Linux" commonly use straw men, double
standards, unfair accusations, factual errors, and tangents.  Alan
Cox's message illustrates all of them.

A straw man argument criticizes something that nobody's arguing for.
The valid links in these arguments are often elaborated at length,
obscuring the crucial mistake.  Here's an example:

    "The Linux system needed a C compiler. Thankfully an existing free
    software project had created the GNU C compiler. Unfortunately some
    users failed to realise that the output of the C compiler is useless
    without our operating system and we therefore ask everyone to call it
    the Linux/GNU C compiler to remind people that the compiler is useless
    without a free OS to run it upon"

This would be a great counterargument against calling the kernel
"GNU/Linux"--but that's not what is being proposed.  The kernel should
be called "Linux".  When GNU and Linux are combined, that's GNU/Linux.

A good example of a double standard is in the parenthetical remark here:

    >From the Linux developer point of view it's really about theft of credit
    (and I've heard the same from X11 people).

The name "GNU/Linux" gives the X11 developers no less credit for their
part of the system than the name "Linux" does.  To resent this only
in the former case and not in the latter is a double standard.

The first line of that citation is a good example of a unfair accusation:

    >From the Linux developer point of view it's really about theft of credit

"GNU/Linux" gives the Linux developers equal mention with the
developers of the system as a whole.  That ought to be plenty.

Here's another:

    The FSF tries to steal the credit for the Linux OS

The GNU project doesn't expect credit for the program Linux that Linus
Torvalds wrote, only for share of credit for the combination of GNU
and Linux.

Where Linus set out to write a kernel, the GNU Project has a much
bigger scope: a complete Unix-like software system, with everything
that the user would normally want to have, and all of it free
software.  We even set out to develop free graphical environment.  Our
first try was in 1991.  The third try, started in 1997, is GNOME.

Here's an example of a false fact:

    having been actively anti-Linux in the early days.

Once Linux became free software, in 1992, we were not against it.  We
didn't adopt it soon because we expected our own kernel to be working
soon.  By 1994 we sponsored the development of a GNU/Linux distro
called Debian.

A good example of a minor point operating as a tangent can be seen

    Most end users I've dealt with think its "a computer",

The machine is a computer, so they're not wrong.  But perhaps what
Alan really means to say is that these people don't distinguish the
operating system from the machine.  It's neither here nor there.

Valid and important points can be tangents too, when they are raised
so as to distract attention.  For instance:

    What does help is making sure that things like "This program is free
    software" in about boxes actually is clickable and takes the user to an

That is a very good suggestion.  GNOME should do more to educate its
users about the ideals of free software, and I hope the board will
discuss how to do this -- as a separate issue, not a replacement for
this one.

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