Talk:Linux/Archive 12

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Archive 11 Archive 12 Archive 13

mentioning GNU

Every "Unix-like" OS that includes Linux includes more GNU than it does Linux. The mass media might often omit the largest contributor when refering to the OS but that does not change what the contents of the OS are. The contents are: GNU, and some other stuff such as the Linux kernel. GNU must be mentioned in the intro, it defines the topic. Gronky 15:34, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't think we should focus on the amount of contributions or the significance of a certain piece of software in an operating system. Operating systems are not given names of software they contain. This would only bring up the years old argument that it should really be called GNU/Linux/Some/Other/Program, which is less than desirable. 15:47, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Were not talking about the name of the page, we're talking about what should Wikipedia say the operating system. How should an encyclopedia describe the OS? Should it say "BLAH is a Unix-like OS based on Linux", and leave out the reason why the os exists (GNU) and the largest contributor (GNU)? Obviously not. It should say that BLAH is an OS that includes Linux and GNU. But for some reason, some people want to keep scrubbing off the GNU contribution, which is absurd given that it's the reason the OS exists. Gronky 16:21, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
I am not saying that we should leave out stuff. I've made a suggestion above that among other things would solve this issue. I'm looking forward to commentary from other people on Wikipedia.
Is it even possible to use GNU/Linux and "Linux OS" interchangeably? "Linux OS" may be an operating system that contains Linux the kernel but no GNU packages. Therefore, how useful it is to have a definition for something that is in some cases two entirely different things? How appropriate is "includes GNU packages" in this context? How appropriate is it to discuss the success of free software / open source software, the various free software projects entirely unrelated to "Linux OS", and all these things in an article that talks about systems that possibly have no free software components other than the Linux kernel?
But I realize that my comment might be inappropriate for this discussion, as I'm looking into a longer term solution, not just one particular solution for one particular issue. 17:04, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
How about "Linux systems" or "Linux-based systems" for systems which are not a variant of GNU? The "Linux OS" described in Linux would then be named GNU/Linux. -- mms 17:33, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Because you say so? That's original research! Because RMS says so? That's POV pushing! -- AdrianTM 17:35, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
"... and leave out the reason why the os exists (GNU) and the largest contributor (GNU)?" If you want to know how much the GNU Project has influenced our culture, look at the name of the license you put your contributions for Wikipedia under. -- mms 17:33, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
That's mentioned in GNU section. You know what's funny with your behaviour people will start to hate you, RMS and the ideas that you promote, think about that for a little bit. -- AdrianTM 17:35, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
And yet I don't see you pining for it be be renamed GNU/Wikipedia. Perhaps this is because no matter how many free software components a system relies on, Richard Stallman still isn't an authority on naming them. Chris Cunningham 19:00, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a variant of GNU and it is not named after its (non existing) kernel. So there is no reason to name it GNU/Wikipedia. The fact that Wikipedia uses a GNU license proves that the GNU Project is not just another "open source" project—it is none at all of course. -- mms 19:47, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Call me back when we are going to talk about BSD/Apple or BSD/Mac. Macs use Darwin but there's no trolling on Apple page to call the operating system: "Darwin/OS X" or "BSD/OS X" -- AdrianTM 20:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Ya'know all this talk has got me thinking: It's not really fair to IBM, those guys at MIT who made the widowing system, or all the other nerds who helped out, so I think it would only be fair if we called it: Michael Faraday/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/MIT/GNU/Linux/IBM/HP/... (of course adding all that I missed) as it would only be fair. Also I think that we should rename the USA to migrating Asians/Vikings/Spaniards/French/English/... . Also if your are a creationist you should add a [believed creator(s)]/ to everything. Mike92591 21:32, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Too bad hundreds of other people have already thought of that before you. 21:46, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
How dare you make fun of Michael Faraday/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/MIT/GNU/Linux/IBM/HP/BSD/KDE/etc !!!! That's a perfect legitimate name, however you forgot many other contributors, this is not an accurate name we need to look for correct one. -- AdrianTM 22:14, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Of course, as any right thinking person would know: the best way to name a set of things is to include multiple objects of the set, as it is simply the most correct and practical method. Allow me to suggest this more correct name: Michael Faraday/Thomas Edison/Charles Babbage/John von Neumann/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/UNIX/BSD/MIT/GNU/Linux/Rémy Card/IBM/Novell/HP/MySQL AB/KDE/Sun Microsystems/Mozilla/Namesys/etc. Mike92591 02:40, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
You forgot Archimedes, without his open source contribution to mathematics we wouldn't be here where we are in computing. Although his "Mi mou tous kyklous tarate" (don't touch my circles) might have meant a late change in his commitment to open source, I'll let you decide... -- AdrianTM 02:51, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
In 1983 there was no free operating system. The GNU Project was founded to develop one. Today there are a few. So it is clear who you should pay credit for this. So you can drop all names before GNU. And if you want to shorten it further, drop names from the right side now. This way you get GNU/Linux. Still too long? Shorten further: GNU. Thanks for all who contributed to this conclusion we can all agree on. So now lets change the redirects. -- mms 03:30, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I honestly don't get your point.Mike92591 04:05, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
There was a point right?Mike92591 04:08, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Wait, we still haven't agreed on the name, I proposed Archimedes/Michael Faraday/Thomas Edison/Charles Babbage/John von Neumann/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/UNIX/BSD/MIT/GNU/Linux/Rémy Card/IBM/Novell/HP/MySQL AB/KDE/Sun Microsystems/Mozilla/Namesys/etc -- AdrianTM 03:42, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
We forgot about the Indian inventor of positional notation! Imagine how slow computers would be! so I say it should be Indian inventor of positional notation/Archimedes/Michael Faraday/Thomas Edison/Charles Babbage/John von Neumann/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/UNIX/BSD/MIT/GNU/Linux/Rémy Card/IBM/Novell/HP/MySQL AB/KDE/Sun Microsystems/Mozilla/Namesys/etcMike92591 03:50, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • The name for that is straw man, so stop it. Faraday or Turing didn't do shit to devise a Unix-like free operating system. No-one (at least not me) is saying the OS should mention GNU to honor all the contributors to the OS, or even because the OS contains GNU software. The "correct" name of the OS, if any "correct" name be, is "GNU OS", because it was created from scratch by the GNU Project. They identified the need of the community for it, they made the effort to build it, and they defended the ideology behind it. Not Babbage or IBM. Moreover, you even know what the "G" in the GPL the Linux kernel bears means? I'm sick and tired of all this straw man argument of ridiculing the suposed intention of the FSF of including in the OS name all the contributors, or saying they do it for egoism, or whatever. The only relevant points are: 1) Much more people do use the name "Linux" than any other (GNU/Linux, GNU...), 2) They have the right to do so. Thus, the name "Linux" is appropriate for the Wikipedia article. Period. — Isilanes 08:19, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Don't dismiss my(and apparently many others') point as a straw man, It follows the logic pretty strictly (give credit in the name). mainly my point is simply this:It completely defeats the purpose of categorizing when you list its parts. Also Faraday and Turing did do poopy for Linux without them it would have delayed computing for at least 50 years and delayed free software for even longer.Mike92591 18:10, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • No, thus the name "Linux" should be redirected to "GNU/Linux" which very much consists of the content of todays article Linux. They have the right to call this OS "Linux" but Wikipedia must not follow them. It should explain that it (then would) refer to the OS aka "Linux" as "GNU/Linux". Then we could say that Linux was in the beginning proprietary software, when it was GPL'd it could be combined with GNU. This also would reduce confusions about "What? You still use Linux 2.6? I already updated to 10.1!" (Before you reply on that, remember there is no kernel named "GNU/Linux"). I sued no one to sending me "Sylvester Greetings". But still the right word for New Year's Eve is "Silvester" and this is also acknowledged by Wikipedia. We can tell the people that we know it better. This is what an encyclopedia is about. -- mms 10:38, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Sylvester vs. Silvester doesn't fit this case, don't know much about the subject but it seems that there's a clear way to determine which one is correct, just like you can look in my passport you'll see "Adrian" not "Hadrian" (assuming that's my real name ;-) it's a matter of spelling that can be determined in a objective way, in our case there's no such thing, no clear way to determine which one is correct. Also, it seems that in Sylvester/Silvester case there's not an order of magnitude difference in usage of one over the other as it is in our case. -- AdrianTM 18:30, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • No, they don't do it for egoism, they do it to promote their political view (that's the declared intention anyway), the intent is promotion, just as explained before that might be a noble cause, but it's still a POV pushing (as long as it's only a minority of people there's no place for that in Wikipedia on equal footing with the name that's used 10 times more that's "undue weight"). GNU is the first only when you consider only one criterion "freedom" (or at least I think it is) but there are other criteria that can be used in a NPOV manner (who is to say that "free" should be the only criterion considered in naming?) that would make other composed names, Archimedes/Michael Faraday/Thomas Edison/Charles Babbage/John von Neumann/Alan Turing/Vint Cerf/Bob Kahn/UNIX/BSD/MIT/GNU/Linux/Rémy Card/IBM/Novell/HP/MySQL AB/KDE/Sun Microsystems/Mozilla/Namesys/etc is one of the results if you apply other criteria and isn't with anything more ridiculous than GNU/Linux (only in practibility, but hey, copy&paste works very well and let's give credit where credit is due ;-) still I didn't see any response to "BSD/Apple" and the lack of trolling in that respect, is that a strawmen too? Are BSD trolls nicer than GNU trolls? Also, the "only" relevants points that you acknowledge, aren't they sufficient? Were they refuted? As for correct name for OS "GNU" you are right, but only if you download the code directly from GNU Project and if you refer to that, if I take the GNU code and use it in "Adrian OS" you have no right to call it GNU anymore, plain and simple, people need to understand the particle "free" that's in "free software" and what that means, when something is free it doesn't come with strings attached, not even when it comes down to names. GNU Project could have adopted Linux kernel and called all the system GNU or GNU/Linux or GABNGTSHGOT$#$#232 and Linux Torvalds or I couldn't have complained about that, but they didn't, that's all, they don't control the name any more than we control the name of movies or the name of Apple products. -- AdrianTM 09:15, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • "Also, the "only" relevants points that you acknowledge, aren't they sufficient? Were they refuted?". Yes, they are sufficient (for me), and no, they were not refuted (that I know). This means that I don't see it wrong that the name for the article about the OS be "Linux". I had agreed with that long time ago. Just not for the fallacious reasons raised at some points (no, Red Hat calling their product "Linux" or "Bananas" has nothing to do with the name of the OS, rather with the name of the distro. And no, ridiculing the inclusion of all "contributors" in the name is a straw man, and has nothing to do with the discussion either). — Isilanes 14:20, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't know who uses which code as of *BSD and Mac OS. I guess all these systems have the name of the principal developer or their suggested name for the system. So there is no problem. With Linux being GNU/Linux it is different. I corrected that "Linux" was in the beginning non-free, that it was created by Torvalds 1991 and it designed to replace Minix. Because if you think of the OS, this is just plainly wrong. Its development started 1984 (or 1983 counting just the idea) and it was intended to be the first free operating system an it's not Unix but Unix-like. The man behind the idea and the project is Stallman. -- mms 10:59, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • You are allowed to develop a GNU variant and name it "Adrian OS". But don't say it is Linux-based if it really isn't. Nexenta OS does this right. Look at the confusion that this "Linux" calling creates: Talk:Nexenta OS. There are some OS which use GNU code but still aren't GNU variants – even if they contain the name of a "Linux" distro in their name (Gentoo/Alt). GNU/Linux is different to all other GNU variants. It was the first running free OS and it is the by far most popular GNU variant since the original GNU isn't useable yet. It stands totally in the tradition of GNU and there would be no "Linux" if there weren't the GNU Project. -- mms 10:59, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • You twist my argument, the point is that I can create an Adrian OS and people can create distros based on Adrian OS and call them something with "Adrian" in their name and then everybody can call that "hey that's Adrian OS" you and GNU trolls have no right to say, no, you should call that GNU/Adrian, imagine this discussion about free code:

    Developer: Hey, that code is free, that's pretty cool, can I use it in my product?

    GNU: Of course, it's free

    Developer: Can I use any name for my product

    GNU: Of course, it's free, I can't force you to use any name.

    .... after 10 years, after my product becomes the darling of mass media and has good publicity and many followers that call it Adrian OS....

    GNU: You really should not call that product Adrian OS, you have to call it GNU/Adrian.

  • Note that they don't ask for credit, because I'm very happy to say that I did that based on GNU (although now GNU is only a small part of total code of the product and my product uses other code that's free too) and that I couldn't have done it without it as that time, they are after the name of my product now, that's totally incorrect and disingenuous, I thought I was free to name my product... moreover there will be trolls that are GNU fans that will harass people on the internet to call my OS "GNU/Adrian" and they will try to impose a standard on Wikipedia when there's no standard, or the standard is simply to use the name that most people use. That's pretty much the whole story and it's actually against Wikipedia policy to promote POV and to place undue weight on opinions that hold marginal positions. -- AdrianTM 14:55, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Linux OS is different than Adrian OS. The GNU Project was founded in a completly proprietary world. Then at the early 1990 GNU was almost complete but lacked a kernel. Some people suggested to use Linux, a proprietary kernel at this time, for GNU. To get a free OS quickly Linus Torvalds was persuaded to switch to the GNU GPL and he (and maybe others) persuaded the other contributers to the Minix kernel substitute that Linux was at this time. So Linux (kernel) became GPL'd. Not even this was Linus work alone. Then GNU was altered to use Linux and Linux was altered to get used by GNU. This, too, was hardly made by Torvalds. Now there was the first free OS which was not exactly GNU but it was a variant of GNU which used Linux (kernel). Without the GNU Project there would be no free OS. Linux would be just another Unix-clone. -- mms 23:06, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Sorry but this is so much bullshit that I can't take it, first of all, have you heard of BSD? No connection to GNU and GPL. Second, Wikipedia is not here to give credits and recognition, even if it would be true that would be no free OS without GNU (which is debatable) that's not relevant to our discussion, we discuss about the actual name not about what should the name be in order to give credit, besides my point before made a clear distinction between name and credit. We can give credit where credit is due without changing names of products and how people refer to them. -- AdrianTM 23:19, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

What means the "G" in GPL?

  • "Moreover, you even know what the "G" in the GPL the Linux kernel bears means?" It means "general", not "GNU". — A.M. 23:44, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
  • I included the wikilink so it could be followed. GPL means "GNU General Public License". I don't know where you got the idea that G comes from "General" and not from "GNU". To me GPL is a modification of a cacophonic GGPL acronim, collapsing both Gs into one. Maybe you know better. However, this is a moot point. The point is GPL is GNU. — Isilanes 13:13, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • No, the "G" in "GPL" stands for "General". So "GPL" is short for just "General Public License". There could be plenty of them. If you want to refer to the GNU General Public License say it or make it short "GNU GPL". -- mms 23:06, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • There could be plenty of General Public Licenses. However, there is only one GPL, and this is the GNU General Public License. Or, in other words, GPL is 99.99% of times used to refer to the GNU GPL, much more predominantly than Linux to refer to the "Linux OS". Either accept that, or redirect GPL to General Public License, instead of to GNU General Public License (moreover, the former also redirects to the latter). Okay, I made a mistake implying that G stands for GNU. Yes, it stands for General. Now, I repeat: this is a moot point. I said "Moreover, you even know what the "G" in the GPL the Linux kernel bears means?". What I meant was: "Do you know that the Linux kernel is also under the GNU General Public License?". However, given the answers above, it seems that they idea got through pretty nicely (all of you realized I was referring to GNU, although actually I could have been referring to "General"). Obviously, all the rest is just nitpicking to generate a smoke curtain to ignore my point. — Isilanes 13:37, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Actually, you make a good point there. The term GPL could be used to refer to any license called 'General Public License' - as that is the correct usage (note the use of 'correct'). However, in the real world the term is used to refer to the GNU General Public License by the majority of people - much the same as Linux is used by the majority of people to describe the OS by the same name - regardless of the 'correctness' of it (also, who is to say what is correct?). -Localzuk(talk) 13:45, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

... but embedded systems?

  • "Every "Unix-like" OS that includes Linux includes more GNU than it does Linux." Not every one does; for example, embedded distributions such as this one. — A.M. 00:33, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Ahh, this is getting boring. If Linux is just the kernel, there could be plenty of operating systems using them. The most popular is GNU/Linux, which is a variant of GNU, often also named Linux. -- mms 23:06, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • The key point is "rarely named GNU/Linux" -- AdrianTM 23:19, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  • "The most popular is GNU/Linux [...]" Not necessarily, because there may be more embedded devices than desktop and server computers that run the Linux kernel. — A.M. 02:22, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • The thing the article calls "Linux", which is be correctly named GNU/Linux, always "includes more GNU than it does Linux". If you come up with other Linux-based systems, they are whether "Linux" nor Linux, the kernel. They are Linux-based systems (Linux as in kernel). Don't get confused by the nomenclature by the Linux fan boys. Think in the GNU nomenclature and everything gets clear. -- mms 02:55, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Correction: that you think is correctly named GNU/Linux (please read POV policy section of Wikipedia and the section about "undue weight") GNU/Linux is used only by a fanboyish minority and you can't deny that, calling other people fan boys is ironic and funny at the same time. -- AdrianTM 03:26, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • "The thing the article calls "Linux", which is be correctly named GNU/Linux, always "includes more GNU than it does Linux"." No it doesn't. The article is about "any Unix-like computer operating system that uses the Linux kernel", and some operating systems (for example, those from LEAF Project) are Unix-like computer operating systems that use the Linux kernel and do not use glibc or coreutils. See GNU/Linux naming controversy#Cases where "GNU/Linux" is inapplicable. (You could argue that all operating systems with the Linux kernel use GCC and binutils, because those are necessary to compile the kernel, but the same is true for other kernels such as FreeBSD.) — A.M. 03:38, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Ahh, don't you think we have gone through this all before? This article is about GNU/Linux which Wikipedia thinks it's NPOV to falsely call it Linux. So don't troll me with other Linux-based systems that aren't GNU/Linux. They don't fit in this article! Now start Linux-based systems! -- mms 04:31, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Look who's talking about trolling! -- AdrianTM 04:37, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • "They don't fit in this article!" Why not? If they are Unix-like (they are) and they use the Linux kernel (they do), then they "fit in this article".
"Now start Linux-based systems!" The topic of this article is Linux-based systems; starting another article on the same topic would be content forking. (Incidentally, as far as I can tell, there already is another article on the same topic, namely Linux distribution. I think that this article should be merged into that one.) — A.M. 05:14, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Maybe Linux distribution and Linux can be merged. But if Linux should be about Linux-based systems in general and not about this thing which wins the Google fight against GNU/Linux, I would move the content of Linux to GNU/Linux and link from your new Linux article about Linux-based systems as I linked from GNU variants. -- mms 09:32, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
This has got to be the most drawn out and stupid argument I have seen on this site. The facts are simple:
  1. The majority of the world calls the OS 'Linux' and not 'GNU/Linux'
  2. It is only the opinion of a minority that the OS should be called GNU/Linux due to the requests made by Stallman
  3. It is irrelevant whether you think it is 'wrong' as there is no naming authority for this - we can only go by what is the most popular (per our naming policies
  4. Using 'GNU/Linux' for the page would give a minority view undue weight and be against out NPOV policy.
Can we move on and leave this stupid issue alone. There have been no new arguments presented in this latest round of arguing so why continue? If you are really sure that it is wrong, take it to WP:RFC as we are stuck in deadlock as neither side is willing to back down. -Localzuk(talk) 09:51, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Summation of the counter-GNU argument

This is simple.

  1. As a scientific document, Wikipedia follows scientific convention wherever possible. This means that in general, if an authority (say, a standards organisation, or an official naming body, or whatever) uses a specific term for a subject then Wikipedia uses it.
  2. No such authority exists for operating systems. Historically they have been named by their vendors, who may have a half-dozen contradictory names for their operating systems. (Sun are particularly good at this). In each case, lacking any authority other than the vendor, articles are titled by whatever the vendor currently refers to them as.
  3. Regardless of any supposed normative name for an OS built with GNU components, no authority exists to officially name operating systems using some GNU code. The original plan was for there to be one GNU operating system, called GNU, built with a GNU kernel. Linus Torvalds did not plan to be a part of that operating system ("won't be big and professional like gnu"). The FSF is not an authority in naming operating systems. (see also: aluminium, where an authority exists to name the substance.)
  4. In the absence of an authority which can credibly name the OS, the next best bet is vendors (who generally use "Linux") and popular perception (which is overwhelmingly "Linux"). So as far as picking a name for the article, it has to be "Linux". "GNU/Linux" is just another vendor term. Any other conclusion lends undue weight to a minority position, and any claim to GNU/Linux being normative is POV in absence of any historical or authoritative evidence to the contrary.
  5. In the future this won't be an issue at all. The FSF will pick one kernel, run with it, call the whole thing GNU and leave everyone else alone. And everything will be happy bunnies and unicorns again.

Call this a position statement. No appeal to fairness, or history, or empiral LOC counts has any value insofar as that no operating system to date has been named in this way. Should the term ever approach the popularity of "Linux" (which has been an ongoing campaign for years) then this can and should be revisited, but until then there's little point in argument.

I now return you to your usual scheduled flame wars. Chris Cunningham 11:00, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Aluminium is a bad example. Aluminium existed before mankind and will exist further when there is no man left. No one has the authority to decide how to name it. You thought of the U.S. American Chemical Society I guess. But they are just that what their name implies. Not relevant for me. GNU on the other hand didn't exist before and wouldn't exist today if there wasn't the GNU Project. Doesn't Wikipedia agree to name articles of products after the names their vendors give them? -- mms 13:55, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I use Linux, but I never bought GNU. GNU code is actually a small part of the system that I use, and my vendor calls it Linux. Please go and troll my vendor not Wikipedia. -- AdrianTM 15:03, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Chris: "In the future this won't be an issue at all. The FSF will pick one kernel, run with it, call the whole thing GNU and leave everyone else alone. And everything will be happy bunnies and unicorns again.". But they can do it now, can't they? I mean, Linux is free software, after all (Under the GPL, if this matters. The GNU General Public License, that is). So the FSF can take their GNU soft, plus any other free soft, plus the Linux kernel, and name the whole beast "GNU", can't they? Or is freedom only one-way? Shouldn't Linus "let go" his free product? Adrian: "I use Linux, but I never bought GNU. GNU code is actually a small part of the system that I use, and my vendor calls it Linux." But I use GNU/Linux (Debian), I never bought Linux. Linux kernel code is actually a small part of the system that I use (smaller a part than GNU code, if this matters), and my vendor calls it GNU/Linux. Anecdote against anecdote, both meaningless. — Isilanes 16:29, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
They can call it whatever they want, but in the absence of any authority it's just another vendor term. And Linus Torvalds has nothing whatsoever to do with the argument I'm presenting. For the sake of all that is holy please read the point given instead of getting bogged down in these stupid flame wars. Chris Cunningham 16:50, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Linus Torvalds' over-importance and SCO

The article reads heavily as if Linus Torvalds is the "man behind it all". He's mentioned repeatedly through the article, yet he is only responsible for the kernel and the trademark. Also, why is there mention of the SCO lawsuit? It has nothing to do with any particular operating system, only the kernel. 16:41, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

False. Torvalds is only mentioned in the history section. Chris Cunningham 16:50, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Which part of my statement is "false"? The history section is a significant part of the article. Torvalds is responsible for the kernel and the trademark. Not sure I understand you.
It isn't the whole article. You are free to actually write the missing section tracking post-release development should you wish to contribute something positive to the article. Chris Cunningham 17:31, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
The litigation affects the entire OS. Don't be so flagrantly disingenuous. Chris Cunningham 16:50, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
By the way, answering to a comment by calling an editor "flagrantly disingenuous" borders on a personal attack. Please keep an eye on what you're saying. 17:09, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm not going to allow pseudo-civility to get in the way of pointing out dishonesty. Chris Cunningham 17:31, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
You know, the whole time you've been acting towards me with incredible hostility yet I'm not aware of the cause for it, not to mention that I don't even know you, so I'll just assume that you're biased and that it's pointless to continue this discussion. 19:56, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I realise that this may not sit well with FSF zealots who dislike his pragmatic stance on DRM and other "freedom" issues, and want to minimise his role in the history of Linux, but the reality is this: there would be no Linux without Linus. He's been instrumental in setting the direction and tone of the project he started, and pretty much everyone in the community listens when he decides to take a stand on a controversial issue. His prevalence in the History section of this article is entirely justified. -/- Warren 17:42, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
You're making a good point, though as I'm one of the "FSF" zealots I don't entirely agree with it, but still, he's indirectly getting credit for things that were more than entirely out of his control. That shouldn't be the case. 19:56, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

The kernel is an important part, but I'm pretty sure Linus never created a whole installable, usable Linux distribution. Credit there should go to Peter MacDonald of Softlanding Linux System, which was also the direct precursor to Patrick Volkerding's Slackware and Ian Murdock's Debian. --FOo 20:50, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

So credit him. Write a section on the later history and include it in the article, instead of wistfully pondering it in a mostly-useless talk thread. Chris Cunningham 23:29, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I personally credit Linus' personality with the success of Linux. At the same time Linux was gathering steam, the various *BSD efforts were split into warring camps centered around zealots who were not able to cooperate. Linus managed to keep the whole effort somewhat coordinated without letting the whole thing either freeze up through overcontrol or fragment because of personal conflicts. He deserves a lot of credit, and not just for getting the kernel written. --Alvestrand 22:15, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, there's a good claim to be made that the stagnation of BSD in the early '90s was caused in large part by the USL v. BSDi lawsuit, actually. Moreover, there are certainly analogues of the FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD split in the Linux distribution world -- to me, that seems quite a bit like the split between supporters and detractors of the FSF, for instance. --FOo 22:35, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
For that matter, a major organizational / structural difference between the BSDs and the Linux distributions is that in the Linux word, distributions are developed separately from the kernel. This has nothing to do with personality and everything to do with the fact that Linux had the Minix userland to work with, and subsequently the GNU core tools ... while BSD had its own core tools forked from early Unix. --FOo 22:42, 13 January 2007 (UTC)


(IPA pronunciation: /ˈlɪnʌks/) -- is this correct? -- AdrianTM 23:43, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

Requests for comment

Per instructions at Wikipedia:Resolving disputes I have requested help at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Maths, science, and technology. -- mms 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC)


This is a dispute about what should be in Linux and related articles like GNU/Linux (currently redirects to Linux). This decision would also have effect on many other articles which now refer to "Linux" where it is unclear what exactly they mean.

Statements by editors previously involved in dispute

  • Linux is undisputely – at least among other things – a kernel and this was undisputely initially created by Linus Torvalds in 1991 (hence the name). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • GNU is undisputely an operating system which development started 1983. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • It is suggested by some that all free software that today exists is due to the GNU Project. The wide spread use of its licenses should be one proof. The documents listed in also support this view but of course the source is considered biased by the opponents. People who share this POV also (mostly) accept the GNU Project or the Free Software Foundation as the authority in naming free operating systems. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • The GNU Project and its sympathizers see the operating system (type) which is now sold as "Red Hat Linux 9" and such as a variant of GNU which uses Linux, the kernel, instead of the original GNU-kernel GNU Hurd. They suggest the name "GNU/Linux" for it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • Linus Torvalds and his sympathizers call also the operating system "Linux" since they switched the license to the GNU General Public License in 1992 and integrated the kernel in GNU. They say it is by far the most common name now for this operating system and the GNU people want to rename it so they get more credit. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • The GNU Project called their operating system ever since "GNU". When Linux (kernel) was used with GNU they thought it was no question that this still would be GNU, but not the original but a variant of it. When the GNU/Linux naming controversy began Richard Stallman also suggested the name "LiGNUx", but stopped that try and now suggests "GNU/Linux". The shortest legitimate name for this system would be "GNU". So they say, the other side has renamed the system. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • Besides the disputed accuracy argument there is a practical argument supporting to use "GNU/Linux" for what now is named "Linux" in Wikipedia. If the kernel and and operating system based on it are both named the same, this is a source of massive confusion. Was it initiated 1983 or 1991? Was is free software from the beginning or was is proprietary at first? Was it just another Unix-like system or was is something revolutionary new? How can a system based on "Ubuntu Linux" not be also be based on "Linux" (see Talk:Nexenta OS)? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • There are other Linux-based systems (Linux as in kernel) which no one wants to name "GNU/Linux". They use Linux (kernel) but no part of GNU or very few. That is the only thing they have in common with the systems we call in Wikipedia "Linux" and some suggest to call "GNU/Linux". If someone decides to write an article about Linux-based systems in general, the article which is now called Linux should be linked by referring to it as one variant. This is already made the other way round in the article GNU variants. With this nomenclature – which is also suggested by the GNU Project – there would be minimal confusion. Within this nomenclature everything is clear. The only downside would be that readers looking for the article about "Linux" expect most likely an article about the wide spread operating system (no embedded systems but the ones with KDE and GNOME) and not about a kernel, which would be the case if the suggested nomenclature was applied. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mms (talkcontribs) 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC).
  • "If someone decides to write an article about Linux-based systems in general, [...]" There already are at least two articles about Linux-based systems in general: Linux (this article) and Linux distribution. There should not be yet another such article created, because it would be a content fork. — A.M. 19:29, 15 January 2007 (UTC)


All free software that today exists is due to the GNU Project: This can easily be disproved by finding a single counterexample. A BASIC compiler was made freely available back in the 1960s, some 20 years before the existence of GNU. The BASIC language is still around today, so obviously this statement is false. Besides, can anyone prove that without the GNU Project, none of the GNU software available today would have been made free in some other form? I somehow doubt it. -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 14:18, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

It's abject nonsense. free software predates GNU: GNU was created as a response to a new trend towards making software proprietary, not as a new idea in itself. The *BSDs are free software and developed alongside GNU. Chris Cunningham 14:51, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
The BSD system was developed by UC Berkeley as non-free software in the 80s, and became free in the early 90s. A free operating system that exists today is almost certainly either a variant of the GNU system, or a kind of BSD system.
People sometimes ask whether BSD too is a variant of GNU, as GNU/Linux is. It is not. The BSD developers were inspired to make their code free software by the example of the GNU Project, and explicit appeals from GNU activists helped convince them to start, but the code had little overlap with GNU.
BSD systems today use some GNU packages, just as the GNU system and its variants use some BSD programs; however, taken as wholes, they are two different systems that evolved separately. The BSD developers did not write a kernel and add it to the GNU system, so a name like GNU/BSD would not fit the situation.
Quoted from -- mms 15:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Would Linux have achieved the same success if there had been no GNU?
In that alternative world, there would be nothing today like the GNU/Linux system, and probably no free operating system at all. No one attempted to develop a free operating system in the 1980s except the GNU Project and (later) Berkeley CSRG, which had been specifically asked by the GNU Project to start freeing its code.
Linus Torvalds was partly influenced by a speech about GNU in Finland in 1990. It's possible that even without this influence he might have written a Unix-like kernel, but it probably would not have been free software. Linux became free in 1992 when Linus rereleased it under the GNU GPL. (See the release notes for version 0.12.)
Even if Torvalds had released Linux under some other free software license, a free kernel alone would not have made much difference to the world. The significance of Linux came from fitting into a larger framework, a complete free operating system: GNU/Linux.
Quoted from -- mms 15:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the quotes. But what do they prove? There's no arguing that free software existed back in the 1960s (see my comment above), so if you want to validate this claim (even for the restricted case of "free operating systems" rather than "free software") then you'll have to explain how the move towards free operating systems in the 1980s could only have happened as a result of the GNU movement, even though a free software movement of sorts already existed before GNU came about. -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 16:09, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I didn't find information under which licenses the different BASIC compilers were available over the time. In the 1960 a license was rather unusual for software. The term "free software" is reserved to software which license guaranties the following four freedoms:
  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study and modify the program.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
Until 1984 I don't know any program under such a license. Maybe I just don't know it. If there was any, it would weaken my argument but not completely. And the argument is not, that there wouldn't be free software today if Stallman never existed – I doubt that myself – but that it wouldn't be such successful by far. The free software community would consist only of hobby programmers. Also Linus Torvalds wouldn't have changed this. He never was a free software advocate.-- mms 16:37, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
So now you're saying that there was no such thing as free software until the Free Software Foundation (est. 1985) provided their definition of free software. This sort of circular argument isn't very convincing. Are you just trolling? -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 17:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I used their definition above but this is not a circular argument and this is not trolling. The definition by the GNU Project is very much common sense if you think of which freedoms a software license should grant if the software should be "free" in a general and not the specific FSF sense. This definition doesn't require a GNU license or a compatible license. Maybe there were licensed software that qualifies as free by this definition before this definition was made. It is possible but not very likely. -- mms 17:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Their definition is logical, yes. But your argument isn't. I'm not going to waste my time arguing against this dogma. Go on, have the last word. -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 18:07, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Just wanted to jump in to reiterate my position. In short, based on how I understand Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy, I believe that, in contexts where the use of either name may potentially suggest that it is somehow the "correct" way to refer to these operating systems, its usage should be avoided; instead it should be instantly made clear that there is a disagreement. For instance, instead of saying "company uses Linux" the article should say something like "company uses an operating system commonly referred to as Linux (see GNU/Linux naming controversy)". (Though, since "Linux" is such a broad term that doesn't really say anything about what the "company" is actually using, the article would probably be better off by naming the distribution. "Company uses an operating system from the family of free Unix-like operating systems commonly referred to as Linux (see GNU/Linux naming controversy)" would be the proper way to say it, in my opinion, but I guess that'd be somewhat radical.) 19:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I just want to say that Wikipedia uses the terms used by most people and don't use the terms used by a minority, that's not POV it's in order to avoid giving undue weight to minority positions (minoritary position that are actually trying to push their POV here, which is evident from the content of the comments of the people who push that POV) -- AdrianTM 19:47, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
To me, this is not about majority or minority. It's about maintaining neutral point of view. I entirely agree that giving undue weight to minority views should be avoided, but not at the cost of failing to maintain neutral point of view. (Which is, by using one term and not the other.) And in my opinion the neutral point of view policy easily out-weights the article naming policy, so the "most people use this name" argument does not apply in this case. 20:04, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but our NPOV policy is what defines the undue weight issue. What is trying to be said is that the use of the term 'GNU/Linux' is a minority view and as such shouldn't be given undue weight within an article. This is just aided by the naming guidelines which are there to try and deal with this sort of issue.-Localzuk(talk) 20:10, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Yet the same policy says that neither point of view should be favoured. By using one name and not the other this is exactly what happens. Talk about running in circles... 20:18, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: Articles that compare views need not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views, and may not include tiny-minority views at all.

In this article we talk about GNU and about the GNU/Linux naming issue and I think that's fair, anything more than that it would be "undue weight" -- AdrianTM 20:26, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Basically this debate comes down to the neutral point of view policy. I'll look into getting more input on this. (Another request for comments?) 20:35, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, we have an RFC open here, but it is not getting much external attention and we have all just continued discussing it (kinda not the point of an RFC). Can you admit that the use of 'GNU/Linux' is a minority view? If so, can you also admit that the NPOV policy states that minority views do not need to be given the same amount of space/attention as majority views?-Localzuk(talk) 07:48, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
To answer both of your questions: of course. Recognizing these two things has never been an issue to me. But there is a difference between "not over-representing a minority point of view" and "representing the majority view as the correct one". You may say that nobody represents the majority view as such, but I'd like to disagree with that: by just using the name to refer to the subject of this article, the reader is implicitly advised that "this is the name you should use".
In a question: can you admit that the neutral point of view policy states neither opinion should be favoured or presented as "true" in any way, regardless of its popularity?
We should state facts, not opinions, and definitely not state opinions as facts. The opinion is that "the systems should be called 'something'". The fact, on the other hand, is that "this person holds an opinion that the systems should be called 'something'". 11:08, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
You are in error about what an encyclopedia is. Wikipedia is descriptive, not prescriptive, so if it uses "Linux" it uses it only to describe the OS the majority of the people call "Linux" and it's only normal to do that. -- AdrianTM 17:07, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
That I would not call a "neutral" point of view. (By the way, I moved your comment. My comment above is in its entirety a reply to Localzuk's comment.) 17:53, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
There is a minority that denies The Holocaust, however because the majority of people are fine with the term "holocaust" Wikipedia uses that term for that article, it does have in the article The_Holocaust#Holocaust_denial, there's also an entire article about the contestation of Holocaust, however the minority view of holocaust deniers didn't succeed to change the title of the article to "So called holocaust" or "events during the WWII" or name it.... that's exactly because of that "undue weight" policy. -- AdrianTM 17:07, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
You have summed up my point very well AdrianTM. The fact is that by using the name we are simply reflecting the real world usage of the term. We can discuss the opinions surrounding other names but we should be descriptive and name the article by its common name. Regardless of how 'right' either side thinks they are on which name is 'correct' we simply should be sticking to the simple truth and use our policies appropriately. In this case we use the common term to describe it and then discuss the other issues as minority views. To do otherwise would instantly be giving undue weight to a single side of the story - which using 'Linux' does not do.-Localzuk(talk) 17:47, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
You failed to answer my question. 17:57, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
The resolution of naming controversies is discussed in WP:NCON#How_to_make_a_choice_among_controversial_names, where it says "The most common use of a name takes precedence". Two minutes of Google searching should be enough to convince anyone that "Linux" is a far more common usage than "GNU/Linux". Does that answer your question? -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 18:36, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I didn't say yes or no, but I did say that using the term Linux isn't a POV if it is used for the simple reason that it is the most commonly used term. However, if you want a direct answer (with qualification of course) then: No, the policy does not state that. It states that we should not give opinions weight unduly. We should represent each opinion according to their real world prevalence. It does state that we should assert that the most popular opinion is the correct term but that is a separate issue altogether. Using the term Linux is not about it being an opinion, we are simply using the fact that it is the most commonly used term and therefore we are providing information in the place that most people will look for it.
I would suggest that when trying to apply the NPOV policy to this situation that you realise that whilst there is a requirement to represent all major viewpoints,, the undue weight part is as much a part of the policy as the rest and one part in particular sums it up: To give undue weight to a significant-minority view, or to include a tiny-minority view, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute. Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties. This applies not only to article text, but to images, external links, categories, and all other material as well. In our case if we were to overly put forward that the OS is also called GNU/Linux or change its name or similar we would be giving this minority view far too much significance. -Localzuk(talk) 18:39, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Also all the arguments made by user:mms are superfluous, Wikipedia doesn't decide here what should be the name of an Operating System, it just use the name that people use. So I propose we eliminate from discussion trollish points such as "which one is truly free software" and "who was first" and "who owes whom" which don't have any relevance here. -- AdrianTM 19:47, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Seconded -- Sakurambo 桜ん坊 20:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. "Common usage" has reliably been one of the best measurements to use when it comes to settling naming and due-weight disputes on Wikipedia. It's a place we'll find the most consensus on as a group of editors. -/- Warren 01:20, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Agree - Seems that we are going of onto tangents with mms. -Localzuk(talk) 07:48, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Remember to filter the bathwater for babies. While throwing out "who was first", we shouldn't forget "who made a mission of making a OS exist and saw that mission through". It is important to remember that the fact that the Linux kernel helped bring an OS into existence is purely an accident of history. (Actually, GNU wasn't first either - the OS includes X Windows and TeX, but they too make an OS only due to historical accident.) Gronky 13:36, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Just to add another point of view: in the German Wikipedia we had this discussion several times and I would like to point out to what we settled down: We chose to use the name Linux since it is the phrase which is most often used in the German media to refer to the whole system. It reflects the usage of the word. However, roughly translated the beginning of the article is like "Linux (also GNU/Linux, check >GNU/Linux naming controversy<)" (> and < marking a wiki link). This is to reflect the problems around the naming and also to show that there is a minor but very strong opinion advertising the phrase GNU/Linux. Some months ago someone wanted to clear that problem by looking at the exact definition of the term "Betriebssystem" (operating system). Because sometimes a scientific clear position has priority over the opinion of the masses in the Wikipedia if its scientifically clear that the masses are uninformed. But it turned out that there are various definitions with different content at least in the German IT landscape. With that knowledge in mind authors came to the conclusion that you can not use scientific definitions to settle this controversy for the Wikipedia. However, recently de:user:Mms has started another discussion about the topic so it is unclear where this will lead to. --Liquidat 00:57, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Does he inhabit German Wikipedia too... you have my sympathy. -- AdrianTM 01:16, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
That is all we need to do here too! It doesn't make sense to give such a minority view the prominence that is being asked for by mms.-Localzuk(talk) 07:48, 16 January 2007 (UTC)