30 years of GNU

It’s been 30 years now for GNU. https://www.fsf.org/news/gnu-system-free-software-celebrate-30-years

Where would Linux be without GNU?

A loosely related item: Some shows ago, the question of having Richard Stallman on the show was considered and immediately squelched. I wonder if he would accept anyway considering the technology you guys use to record the show.

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You mean **GNU/**Linux, right?!



In a way, I was actually refering to the Linux kernel itself.

I had a little education about GNU and Linux thanks to Richard Stallman. http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html

From his FAQ:

Why do you call it GNU/Linux and not Linux?
Most operating system distributions based on Linux as kernel are basically modified versions of the GNU operating system. We began developing GNU in 1984, years before Linus Torvalds started to write his kernel. Our goal was to develop a complete free operating system. Of course, we did not develop all the parts ourselves—but we led the way. We developed most of the central components, forming the largest single contribution to the whole system. The basic vision was ours too.
In fairness, we ought to get at least equal mention.

Should we always say “GNU/Linux” instead of “Linux”?
Not always—only when you’re talking about the whole system. When you’re referring specifically to the kernel, you should call it “Linux”, the name its developer chose.
When people call the whole system “Linux”, as a consequence they call the whole system by the same name as the kernel. This causes many kinds of confusion, because only experts can tell whether a statement is about the kernel or the whole system. By calling the whole system “GNU/Linux”, and calling the kernel “Linux”, you avoid the ambiguity.

I remember one show of LAS, when they interviewed Richard, they changed it to the GNU/Linux Action Show!

@oldgeek I recall that show ( [the Gnu Linux Action show][1] ) very well , with much amusement too.

It’s the one where Bryan died a little inside. I was there - I felt the cringeworthiness of his captialist argument crumble like an ancient civilisation before my free rein eyes.

If you don’t ‘get’ Bryan, and not that many ‘subscribe’ to his escapist-statistician look on the world; then watch this throughout from exactly 10 minutes into that video. It’s enlightening.
I could say more, but I’m past being discourteous to Bryan. I just think he’s nationalist beyond belief: e.g. the "[email protected]#k Europe", bit in 1x40, and his neutalizer-apoplectic-ideals.

Just to be clear I’m not walloping Bryan here.
[1]: https://youtu.be/radmjL5OIaA?t=55m47s

At first, your handle there made me feel hungry and a kindred spirit. Then, I realized that it’s not TheGuyWhoLovesChili. Sometimes I do need my reading glasses! Hey, Chill is cool.(pun?? :slight_smile: )

I remember listening to that LAS show and thinking how Bryan dropped the ball in his arguments, in that Mr. Stallman was showing himself to be more than a bit of a hypocrite. Never the less, I do wonder how far the Linux kernel would have gone without GNU, or what direction Linus would have taken his kernel if it wasn’t GNU.

I wonder where FreeBSD would come into this picture.
I don’t think there is anyway we could know there would be way too many varibles.

@oldgeek Looking back it was important to have that show. As it showed the weakness in so many sides.

“I developed the GNU operating system, which is often called Linux, to escape and end that injustice.”


Not cool, Stallman, not cool.

It’s not unfair, depending where you draw the distinction between kernel and OS. If you define an OS as “all the things needed for a computer to actually be useful”, for instance, it’s kind of silly to refer to the whole assembled mass of software by the name of the kernel that it runs on.

(written on my XNU computer)

Hey, history is what you make it, isn’t it? :smile:

Wait, you’re defending stallman from that interview? All I remember coming away with from that interview is, Extremism is always bad in every situation

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So, disclosure, I’m not exactly a Stallman fan (though I deeply respect/appreciate what he has done for software and for the compiler alone), but I have two minds about giving him as much credit as he gets for the world that exists now.

On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine that Linux (or any modern operating systems) existing the way they exist now without him.

Yes, the Unix wars ended up in the release/access the the software and with the various BSD favors and one could argue (and I think reasonably) that that would have happened with or without Stallman and GNU, but there is no question he helped change the game.

Still, I’m reminded by something a friend of mine told me. This friend created one do the first modern social networks (LiveJournal) and through LJ wrote memcached, without which basically the web as we know it would cease to be able to exist.

Anyway, my friend works at Google and does well for himself, but he hardly has the hundreds of millions or billions that many who have used his software have. And again, realize Facebook absolutely could not work without memcached.

So I asked him, “do you ever get frustrated that everyone else has gotten rich off your code?” And his response proves he’s a much better person than me. He said, “if I didn’t do it someone else would have.”

Now, I’m not so sure, but realistically, he’s probably right. And the same is likely probably true for GNU.

Would it be the same without Stallman, absolutely not. But I’m pretty sure we’d have some sort of easily accessible compiler (whether it met Richard’s definition of free or not doesn’t matter) and other rebuild Unix tools.

Just a thought. I’m glad the person that build GNU was Richard. I think the world is better for having someone with his ideals in it (even if I have major disagreements with some of those ideals). But sometimes I think he (and his supporters) act as if without him we’d be in the dark ages. And of that I’m just not convinced.

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Ok, another question. Where would GNU be now without Linux? Mr. Stallman was working on GNU Hurd, and I guess it’s still in development, but I do wonder if it would have been a viable OS if Linus didn’t bring his kernel to GNU.

I think the issue @dotwaffle brought up, and I agree, is that Mr. Stallman is, in that article, seeming to take all the credit for Linux, not even mentioning Linus Torvalds. That is just arrogant.

Stallman? Arrogant? Really? So hard to imagine. :smile:

I’m not sure about this, I have to say. I’m not generally a believer in the uniqueness of ideas; ideas are cheap, and sometimes it’s steam-engine time where an idea seems to be hovering in the air and twenty people all try it at once. If it hadn’t been Twitter it’d have been Bebo, etc, etc. But I don’t think that the idea of capital-f Free software came out of a time where everyone was thinking about that. It came out of a time when everyone had it, certainly, but hardly anybody realised that they did, in the same way that fish don’t have a word for water. Stallman recognised that the way the early Unix world worked was a good thing, recognised that it wouldn’t be a good thing for others, and actually wrote down what made it good; he turned a fact of life into a movement campaigning to keep it a fact of life because he recognised that it would go away were it not documented and preserved and given an independent life and branding. Think of it as a very early version of the realisation that security people have recently come to, that more people pay attention to your latest advisory (and the bug therein (and the person who wrote it)) if you call the bug HEARTBLEED or VENOM rather than CVE-1023-2. Has Stallman done good things with the movement he created since? That’s a lot more arguable. Has he dined out for thirty years on the basis of doing one good thing around the time that Back To The Future came out? Yup. But I’m reasonably confident that we wouldn’t have it if he hadn’t done it at all.


I think you make excellent points. The timing was certainly a key part of his success.

Now, his attempts to now usurp the whole branding behind Linux, and to try to claim GNU is responsible for all of it, I think is in your word, bobbins.

But you may be right that if he hadn’t taken it upon himself to be the “last true hacker,” no one else would’ve stepped up – or at least, not until after the Microsoft/Apple/OS/2/commercial UNIX way had already permeated everything.

I think I would use a word which is shorter and rather more vulgar than that, but I’m prepared to go along with “bobbins” :slight_smile:

I contribute to Stallman pics over on Reddit, and he’s always cheery.

@TheGuyWhoLovesChill your totally right, I checked that extract and I have to say that even though RMS can be pretty loco at times, Bryan got his ass kicked and rightfully so (especially at the end).

I’m from Europe (Belgium to be precise) and what is very interesting while listenening to BV is to hear how different people in the US look at the world. For us Bryan’s points of view are very often total madness and I often wonder if many people in the US have similar views.

@basje Yeah - there’s like a pirate element to the yanks that I’ve never cared for. It’s good , but they don’t know how to control it - look at Occupy for example. Couple that with big bucks and it becomes a "I just don’t give a f$%k " bunch of buccaneers. Shouldn’t bash them though - they’ve given us a_lot.

I love Belgium though - do they still have the Häagen-Dazs restaurant at the Place Louise ?
I loved that place after FOSDEM.

Oh, no. @bryanlunduke’s views are quite tame compared to many. I’m not sure whether he gets his instructions from the Big Giant Head like the rest of us. :smile:

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