@fribbledom "What you refer to as GNU+Linux is actually GNU/Linux, or as I've taking to call it, Linux, because the prefix didn't help clarify anything"

@zatnosk @fribbledom i did not expect GNU/Hurd to also get simplified

@fribbledom So someone decided to no longer give credit to #GNU, and they do that change without explaining in the commit message what the change actually is. The commit message should say "remove GNU" since that is what the commit is doing.

Apparently they don't want the commit message to show what they are actually doing.

Is that supposed to be funny?

@eliasr The differences the Code refers to have nothing to do with GNU. The name of the Kernel is Linux. If you are using Linux without GNU (for example Android) you still need to take this code path. @fribbledom


I must admit I laughed, but I guess it's a fair change, as there's really no GNU dependency here.

> So someone decided to no longer give credit to #GNU

another piece of dishonesty to the pile :-(

@fribbledom That's an interesting commit. If it's about Golang on Linux then it might even be justified (I mean, there are Linux based operating systems without GNU or minimal dependency on GNU software).

I'll definitely follow for the upcoming discussion.

@fribbledom awesome, I was expecting a joke issue and not actually a merged PR 😆


I think you could argue it's making it more specific, as there's indeed no GNU dependency here.

@fribbledom @brad It’s making them less specific, but the specificity is incorrect. It’s making them less specific but more accurate.

@fribbledom "rms fsf bad" aside, I never really understood GNU/Linux. Why is GNU the only part of the software that gets named? There are lots of important software layers that are vital to the usage of the OS, and it would be a pain to name them all every time. It makes sense to me to only refer to the lowest level layer since everything else depends on it. That being said, im glad the GNU/Linux copypasta exists, because it made me curious about what Linux itself actually is.

@pleb what other OSes use the Userspace/Kernel naming convention?

@jaxter184 @pleb not that i know of, but most OSs dont have them produced by 2 separate organizations.

@Capheind @pleb id argue there are many more than 2 separate organizations working together to produce the modern Linux-based computer experience

@jaxter184 I wouldn't argue at all :) Ive been off the GNU scold wagon for a while now.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom Supposedly the reason is b/c GNU is the "actually important part" but IMO it's really because the people who started to insist it should be "GNU/Linux" were the people working on the GNU stuff and felt their work was more important than anybody else's.

@Asimech @fribbledom yeah, it feels really petty to me? whether or not it was actually done out of pettiness is unclear though.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom Yeah, it's impossible to tell for sure. And at the very least it's nitpicky, because who says "GApps+Android" without it being important to the discussion at hand?

And there aren't many who would insist on a specific formatting of "X+Y" or "X/Y" for the two parts without getting eyerolls in response.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom GNU is a complete operating system that has support for multiple kernels (Linux is one of them) and is actually usable by people. Some consider Linux to be an operating system, because it meets a common definition of an operating system: software that provides an interface between the hardware, and applications run on top of it. However, using the Linux kernel alone is not very useful to people as a general purpose operating system, unlike GNU.

In this case, dropping GNU from GNU/Linux makes sense, since Go actually has no dependency on GNU as far as I know. Funnily enough though I’ve been considering saying GNU to people instead of Linux, since I can actually point to this page on the GNU site to download usable operating systems, which does not exist on any official Linux page (you can only download the sources, which isn’t useful to the average person).

@robby @fribbledom That seems like a decent reason to call it GNU rather than Linux. Do programs that run on GNU/Linux usually also work without modification on GNU Hurd?

I call it Linux because imo the most important operating system property is task scheduling. It doesn't even really have to have memory management or user input (though those are also things I would assign an operating system). Sure GNU is important to using it, but Linux does all the OS-esque stuff.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom I think the portability between Linux and Hurd mostly depends on if the application uses Linux specific system calls (graphic found on this page). To my knowledge applications that only interface with syscalls through glibc should at least be source compatible.

Here is a list of common porting issues. Basically it looks like if your application sticks to POSIX is should be fine.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom GNU/Xorg/UCB/Apache/CPAN/Python/Linux doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way. As to the “why” — none of those other orgs are half as self-important and arrogant.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom Speaking for myself, I see three reasons to mention GNU: technical, historical and philosophical importance.

Technical importance means that GNU should be mentioned whenever fundamental parts of the system come from the GNU project. This one is tricky since you can have many different combinations, where the portion of GNU can range anywhere from 0 to 100%. I presume most systems will include programs like Bash, GCC or glibc, with many including more, like GNOME, Guix or GTK, and others including none (like Alpine or Android, if I’m not wrong). I don’t think there’s any one defining part common to all systems one would consider a ‘part of the family’. But there are the two other aspects, too.

Historical importance means that GNU should be mentioned for sparking this family into existence. While the programs we use have various origins, GNU was the one project that explicitly set out to create a complete operating system that would let people do their computing freely. It was the one to bring forth the cause, inspire many others to join in, and provide them with tools to do so (such as the aforementioned software or the General Public License), which became widely adopted.

Finally, philosophical importance means that GNU should be mentioned for the one important value it represents: user freedom. It’s the one project that identifies user freedom as its ultimate goal, sets it as its top priority, and refuses to compromise. A lot of more philosophically aligned projects will choose to say ‘GNU/Linux’. I believe this is in part because the name ‘Linux’ does not carry those same values, much like ‘open source’ doesn’t carry the same values that ‘free software’ does, even if we use it to refer to the same thing.

If you look at Linux and what it stands for, you will find that it’s a kernel. It’s mostly free software, yes, but the freedom is more of a convenient trait it happens to have, rather than its entire raison d’être. If you look at The Linux Foundation’s homepage, you won’t find freedom mentioned at all. On the other hand, if you look at the GNU project’s homepage, you will find the idea heavily emphasisesd. Names carry connotations, and saying ‘GNU’ is a way of saying that you care about user freedom and recognise it as a very fundamental trait of the system you’re referring to. ‘Linux’ alone can not make this implication, and most the other software that makes up the system of your choice couldn’t, either, since most of it is less focused on the pure aspect of freedom.

gnu was the name of the operating system that linus torvalds developed his kernel to work with. it doesn't change names just because of a different kernel. what makes no sense is to name it after another single much smaller piece and dispute the name of the much larger piece that it built upon (or underneath, if you wish ;-)
https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu.html has a *lot* more info on the history and the naming than you probably wanted to know. if your stated curiosity is real, you may want to look at the article about the naming, and the FAQ, that addresses every mental contortion people have come up with to justify writing GNU's history-changing contributions out of history

@lxo a couple things:
* I don't care too much about the history in this particular case. I'm more thinking about what actually constitutes an operating system
* My stated curiosity was more about Linux, though I am also curious about GNU, and will probably read the article youre talking about later today
* I'm very impressed with everything the GNU project has accomplished, particularly gcc, and don't mean to diminish its impact. I just think its unnecessary to call it "GNU/Linux"

@jaxter184 @fribbledom remove the GNU part and try and use the OS
remove everything else

Now you will understand why it's GNU/Linux

@muhlinus @fribbledom would you consider Void Linux to be sufficiently GNU-free? or does it have enough GNU in there that you would still want to call it GNU/Linux? At what point of the removal of GNU software would you no longer consider it to be GNU/Linux?
My issue isnt with the significance of the contribution to the user experience (of which GNU software has a lot), but rather what traits cause us to call something an operating system in the first place.

@jaxter184 @fribbledom I think even embedded GNU/Linux systems like buildroot are GNU/Linux, even though they (can) have zero gnu-utils. Everything is still built on the shoulders of GNU from my perspective.

@muhlinus Sure, but the nature of technology is that everything is built on the shoulders of past innovations. Should it be called Turing/Lovelace/Stroustrup/Thompson/Ritchie/GNU/Linux? I'd argue the influence of Unix over GNU is larger than that of GNU over Linux, yet it's not called Unix/GNU. (To be fair, GNU does contain 'Unix' in its acronym, but prepends it with "Not", which kinda negates any attribution.)

In terms of literal building, you can build the kernel with Clang too

@jaxter184 @fribbledom For me it's a historic name that everybody understand. Historic names don't have to be fully accurate. It's useful when contrasted with Android/Linux.

Even if glibc and current major Linux distributions play no specific part here, they are still part in the de-facto standard that makes up what we normally call Linux, but should not be confused with the Linux kernel, or with the completely different Android userspace that runs on top it.

@tzafrir @fribbledom Isn't the Linux kernel under android significantly modified to the point it could be considered a different kernel? I'd say thats an example of a historic name that everybody understands (i.e. Linux) being applied to something in a way thats not fully accurate (i.e. Android's kernel) that starts to lose its usefulness due to the inaccuracy.

Similarly, "GNU/Linux" raises more questions than it answers (though some of those questions are important)

@tzafrir @fribbledom I think it makes sense to use historic terms when talking about the politics or the history, but when we're having a technical conversation about Linux-based operating systems, not only is "Linux" more complete, but its also a little more correct.

The distinction between the kernel and the operating system is easy to do by appending the term "kernel", as you would with other operating systems (Windows kernel, Android kernel, Redox kernel, etc.)

@jaxter184 @fribbledom No. It's not significantly different. It was a fork, but most (if not all) of the changes in that fork were merged.

@tzafrir I'm admittedly not fully educated about the topic, but I'm reading right now about stuff like mainline Linux not having WakeLocks and dropping support for Android-specific drivers? Is this no longer true?

At the very least, it's my understanding that the standard Linux kernel and Android Linux kernel are far from drop-in replacements for each other, and that it has been this way for a long time. That's my justification for considering them to be distinct from each other.

@fribbledom oh my. So many people are going to be but-hurt about this.

@fribbledom Was there a PR? The discussions would have been off the charts.

Is that motivated by the recent RMS discussion?

I get that GNU/Linux is more than just GNU tools and Linux kernel today. I am always for updating historical Labels to match current state.

But this feels more like a politicaly motivated removal of an attribution notice.

@xro The commit has nothing to do with GNU tools but with specifications of the Linux kernel. So removing this is correct. @fribbledom


I have no idea what the motivation was, but I think it's a fair change. There's simply no GNU dependency here and the kernel is called Linux.

Quite true. It's golang after all. It's not using any GNU tools.


What actually bothers me is that they renamed "GNU/Hurd" too.
Hurd is not Linux and is a GNU project; you could replace the slash with a space.

IMO it's a bad commit message and they snuck in an unrelated change.
And 2 ppl 'Reviewed' it, but didn't even mention that?

@fribbledom as you said, there might be no dependency on the GNU part of GNU/Linux, but common, renaming GNU/Hurd tu just Hurd ?

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