Saturday, November 22, 2008

RE: Linux is a kernel, Now STFU

Well, since Linux is the name of the kernel for Linux OSes, the problem comes when people start confusing the two.

Yes, I've called people out on that, and no, I'm not an RMS follower (though I think he's pretty cool).

Recently on Slashdot, there was an article about Linux driver developers. That means kernel developers. People came out of the woodwork talking about printers and scanners. Printers aren't handled by kernel drivers -- that's CUPS. Scanners are covered by SANE. The Linux kernel has nothing to do with these drivers. I tried to point this out and received a bashing about how it doesn't matter ... from these idiots who, honestly, sound a lot like you here.

Then there was the mailing list (was that you?) where someone was proposing to create a method for generic application naming (which already exists on Debian, BTW), he ended up doing a lot of discussion about "Linux." I tried to point out that FD.o does specs for more than just Linux-based OSes, meaning it could cover OS X if that project wanted to use the specs. Solaris is covered. I further suggested looking by distro/OS or desktop environment instead of trying to say "Linux" and encompass eight thousand possibilities. I was called an RMS-ite.

My point is ... there are times when discerning whether we're talking about a kernel or an OS is important to keeping the discussion on-track and useful. Linux distros are individual OSes. Lumping them all together under "Linux" is sometimes counter productive. In these cases, we need to think clearly and define exactly what we are talking about. Sometimes that means using "Linux" to mean the kernel (since there's no other name) and choosing one of the other options for an OS or distro.


Anonymous said...

There might be a fashion to paint RMS as some kind of fringe lunatic and Linus is following this trend.

Fortunately this doesn't suddenly make RMS wrong and I'm seeing the arguments he makes repeated all over the net. It's one of those things. The arguments will gain ground because they are logical and work for the best interest of individuals and companies.

It does seem strange to paint GPL v3 as some weird hell spawn developed by a lunatic with a beard. That licence was, after all, developed collaboratively in a very free software approach.

It would seem that calling you an RMSite is simply a sheep move: one which avoids dealing with your points using deflection based on fashionable misconception.


Thanks for the support. Like I said, I'm not really an RMS follower (I don't say GNU/Linux, for instance), but he's done an amazing amount of good. We definitely don't want to pretend that the Open Source Initiative started what the Free Software Movement actually did.


Linux, the kernel, is one of the many components which make up Linux, the operating system.

To the RMSites out there: GET OVER IT ALREADY.



There are many cases where we need to define which one we're talking about, which was the point of this article.

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