Subject: Re: GNU License for Hardware
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 15:43:11 -0600 (MDT)

    Nope.  Unices have always been named after their kernel.

With all due respect, there are almost no examples of naming a system
after its kernel.  It is normally the opposite: the kernel is named
after the system it was used in.  Names such as SunOS, AIX, HPUX, and
Unix itself, are first of all the names of whole systems.  That is why
people say "the Unix kernel", and "the SunOS kernel", which mean, "the
kernel of Unix" and "the kernel of SunOS".  These terms imply that
Unix (resp. SunOS) is the system, and NOT the kernel.

If the system Unix were named after its kernel, it would be a
redundant indirection to say "the Unix kernel".  "Unix, the kernel",
or just "Unix", would be appropriate.

      If I was to replace all of Solaris's utilities with the GNU
    equivalents, would anybody call it GNU/Solaris?

I for one would not call it that.  Copying just the utilities from GNU
is not enough of a reason to say "the result is basically the GNU
system."  What GNU/Linux has in common with GNU is much more than a
bunch of utilities.  If you took the kernel of Solaris and made it
work in the GNU system, that would produce GNU/Solaris.

I think that IBM is working on GNU/AIX.  (Of course, since the kernel
won't be free, I would not recommend this system.)

    FreeBSD uses many BSD utilities.  Does anybody call it BSD/FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is derived from the BSD system, and they give credit for this
by including BSD in the name "FreeBSD".

      If Stallman wants a GNU/Linux distribution, he
    should create a Linux distribution, and call it GNU.

We want users to know that the various popular system distributions,
such as Debian and Red Hat and Caldera, are all variants of the
GNU/Linux system.

    Linux is a perfectly good name for an operating system.

It would have been a perfectly good name, but the principal developers
of this particular system use the name GNU.