Subject: Re: GNU License for Hardware
Date: 15 Oct 1999 21:24:55 -0000

>At 03:50 PM 10/15/99 +0000, wrote:
>>If you claim that his mere "insistence", or request, to call it by a
>>name that he believes more properly credits Project GNU, constitutes
>>such a trampling on your "freedom" that you must "divest [yourself] of the
>>GNU project for one that truly believes in freedom", then by all means
>>go ahead and do the 10+ years of hard work to realize that dream.
>But that's not what he says. You haven't read his writings very clearly. 

Does what *you* see he's *actually* saying change what *I* said *in any


So, apologies, but I can't really see the point of your distinction between
RMS making a "request" versus an "insistence", since neither carry any
particular legal (or much moral) weight.

In short: stop claiming RMS or GNU is restricting your freedom when
RMS claims use of the word "Linux" is wrong.  Instead, claim RMS
is wrong, if you have to make any claim.  Or just ignore him.  Or
maybe even agree with him (on the off chance some readers do).

>>Then, after the 10+ years of hard work you, along with all your friends and
>>supporters do, which will surely be under the umbrella of some name *you*
>>come up with to denote "true freedom"...
>Actually, I personally would not have a problem with it. It seems that 
>certain people with the FSF have an ego about the topic, though.

You really don't *know* whether you would or not until you got to
that point.

For example, back in 1975 or so, I met a person who was quite a good
programmer, and who wrote some free software.  I didn't talk about
such issues with him, but I'm quite sure he, too, would have said
he didn't have a problem with my little scenario.  After all, he
wasn't putting naming or other restrictions on the free software he
wrote.  (I don't remember much about what we *did* talk about,
but it probably wasn't much.)

Fast forward to 10+ years later, and that same person, having seen
much of his (and his friends') free software essentially "hijacked"
in a variety of ways, and Richard M. Stallman had another set of
opinions, which he's basically stayed with, through thick and thin,
ever since.

As another example, I believe it was Russ Nelson who once asked a
young, budding free-software programmer why he didn't register a
trademark for the name of his budding free-software program.  That
programmer said something like "Why would I want to do that?".

Years later, after that programmer's friends and supporters started
getting threatening letters from someone who (fraudulently, it appears)
obtained a registered trademark (or at least made the application) on
that very name, I gather that young programmer changed his opinion
on the matter.

Now that young programmer owns the registered trademark.  You might
recognize it: "Linux".

You really ought to grant a bit more leeway to the pertinent opinions
held by those who've put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get things
done than you seem to.  At least you should avoid going off into
writing about losing your freedoms because of the mere *opinions* they
express, or about how they're hypocritical because they express
opinions about how others should exercise the very freedoms they've
been granted!

>My claim is that it is fine for him to tell people he would like them to 
>use it, or that he would prefer that they use it, but NOT for him to say 
>"That is not the name of the OS" (Which he does quite frequently, and has 
>done in this forum as well). The name of the product is not for him to decide.

Nor was it for Linus Torvalds to decide.  It was decided *for* him.
He did *not* want the name "Linux".  I remember, because I Was There.

The point here is that the name of something vague, like a collection
of software written by a bunch of different people, *is* a more
legitimate target of persuasion and pronouncement than, say, the
name of your first-born male child.  (The original name of *this*
set of components, based on their behaviors and their free-software
status, was, of course, "GNU".)

Linux was named Linux by the people working on the *kernel*.  I
don't recall any votes on who got to name, or what the name would be for,
the largish collection of GNU software *plus* that kernel, but it's
always been my impression that the name "Linux" got stuck to that
because "Linux" was such a cool name.  Which is why I happen to think
it "wins", even though I also think it overloads the name.  That doesn't
means RMS/FSF/GNU, who wrote probably the largest chunk of otherwise-
difficult-to-identify software (i.e. not including X or Emacs in this)
that goes into a typical distribution, don't get to say what *they* think
it's name should be.  But I think they missed the boat.  Even if they
didn't, you're *free* to ignore them.  (Note carefully my use of that
word "free"!!)

(IMO anyone who thinks "Linux" is the name of the whole OS, not just
the kernel+kernelutils, and considers themselves a "Linux" hacker,
should work on the non-kernel elements just as faithfully as they
do the kernel.  I.e. they should work on GCC, binutils, etc., and
be as faithful about cooperating with the official maintainers of
those programs as they are with Linus.  The cooperation should go
both ways, of course.)

>>Whereas, based on RMS' history, what *he's* done is not only *insist*
>>on freedom, and *write* lots of code (including some famous code, like
>>GCC and Emacs) that actually *was* free, he's even undertaken the vastly
>>more difficult task of creating and nurturing a community that *values*
>>those freedoms, *talks* about them (constantly, if not overmuch ;-), and
>>defends them even against carrot-style persuasions to give them up in
>>specific instances for short-term benefits.
>That's an ideological issue, not really relevant to this discussion, 
>although I agree with all of your points except the last sentence.

Do you mean last sentence *fragment*?  Because, as usual, I wrote a
paragraph consisting of a single sentence.  Dunno why you'd disagree
with it anyway -- GNU people are probably the most resistant to accepting
significant exceptions to the GPL just to accommodate short-term
"improvements" in hardware support, for example, among the various
OSS camps (but I don't have much experience other than reading what
various people apparently from various camps write about their

>>In the end, I know that RMS will have contributed far more actual *freedom*
>>to the computing community in an average *year* of his life than you will
>>in your entire life, because you seem to care more about whining about
>>minor things that are done (sometimes necessarily) to achieve major things.
>>(I'd love to be proved wrong, of course.)
>Ah, I knew we'd come to a personal attack somewhere in that diatribe. So 
>disagreeing with His Royal Highness Richard is "whining" now?

I did not say that, of course.

I stand by what I did say: you are showing far more willingness to
*whine* about your "lack of freedom" due to RMS expressing his *opinions*
about the dead-horse GNU/Linux issue than I suspect you'll show
towards actually making a GNU-free Linux a reality.

Prove me wrong.  Though I gather from the remainder of your post that
you aren't actually worried about the issue, as much as you seemed
to be earlier!

Still, assuming RMS *will* continue to "insist" the name "GNU/Linux"
be used, you'll have to do one of the following to avoid losing face:

  -  Agree with me that his insistences are not hypocritical, because
     they don't take away any freedoms, so there's no need to "free"
     Linux from GNU software.

  -  Free Linux from GNU software.


>>   Though I
>>expect most X users know they are using something called X, I very
>>much doubt most "Linux" users are aware they are using software highly
>>dependent on GNU components, components that *will* need care and
>>feeding over the next many years, just like the kernel.  Someday X
>>will be "just there" for lots of users the way kernels, libraries,
>>compilers, and assemblers are -- part of the wallpaper underlying
>>whatever they *think* they're interacting with -- at which point
>>they might think they're just using Enlightenment, or whatever, and
>>not realize they're also using X, glibc, Linux, GCC, etc.  (I realize
>>it's a problem that name games alone cannot hope to solve.)
>How many Windows users know that they use software dependent upon [insert 
>name of the original software that Bill Gates bought and sold as MS-DOS 1.0 
>here because I can't remember it]?

Hardly any, of course.

>Just because something is absorbed into the whole doesn't mean that it has 
>to be formally recognized by words and titles.

Yes, and if you prefer the proprietary model, where that original
software was *bought and paid for* by Bill Gates, and effectively
made no longer a viable, separately maintained entity, then
I can see why you (and others sharing that view) wouldn't care
about words and titles.

Until Linux came along, most people *using* GNU code probably *knew*
they were using GNU code.  If they wanted to improve their *system*,
which likely was SunOS + GNU, the only code they could really work
on was GNU.  So GNU prospered.  It was often *the* one "system" upon which
a programmer could rely as he moved from SunOS to HP-UX to a BSD-basd
system, and it was the only one to which he reliably had access to
source code and the freedom to share patches with others.

As the theory goes, Linux arrives, convinces a lot of us to try a
PC running it, and "we" get all this source code.  As more and more
people are "converted", fewer and fewer believe or even know much
about this "GNU" thing.

When they encounter "bugs" in GNU code, they see them as just bugs
in the Linux variants of some random chunks of source code, and they
fix them, too often with no regard to whether those fixes will
make sense in the GNU project -- the *source* for all that GNU code.
They don't see themselves as GNU people, but as Linux people, so
they don't care about how well GNU works on Solaris, on AIX, on
BSD, etc.

That happens because they're less aware of GNU as a "going concern",
a worthwhile project that still needs lots of work.

The more that happens, the more the code bases fork, the more the
Linux people see the GNU people as "slowing them down" (due to
incorporating patches becoming harder due to the forks), and the
fewer benefits they see to *other* outside improvements to the GNU
code base (since, due to the forks, they're less likely to bring
in those improvements for themselves -- and they aren't yet seeing
themselves as "competing" with SunOS + GNU, so they don't really
get why those outside improvements are important).

I don't think that fairly *sums up* the situation circa 1994-1998
or thereabouts, but it probably fairly describes *some* of what went on.

Now, if the distributions including Linux had been named "SLS GNU/Linux",
"Slackware GNU/Linux", and so on, *some* of that might not have happened.

I.e. if Torvalds and crew were somewhat more sensitive to the importance
of GNU (and, based on discussions in gnu.misc.discuss, at least Torvalds
himself *was* reasonably sensitive to the GPL, if not GNU itself), some
of that might not have happened -- perhaps enough to have prevented
some major problems, some long-term hacks, etc.

There were, of course, *other* problems contributing to all this.
Linux didn't require compilation by GCC years after its
release *just* because it was part of a system called "Linux" instead
of "GNU/Linux" -- problems on the GCC side were caught up in that.

(I'll note that as frustrated as the EGCS people were with GCC2 to have
"split" into EGCS, at least they *asked* RMS for "permission" to
call it GCC3 at first, and accepted a "no" answer, thus avoiding *lots*
of nastiness down the road.  A missed opportunity for Linux enthusiasts
earlier on, I'd say.  Now EGCS->GCC, with much more apparent harmony
and working together than seemed possible just three years ago.)

But those other problems could perhaps have been mitigated, more easily
noticed, or more quickly fixed if there'd been more Linux enthusiasts
who saw themselves as GNU enthusiasts *also*, during the middle part
of this decade.

It's *very* hard to really know how much of a difference it would make,

>My objection is to the FSF's insistence that 
>people who use the word "Linux" to refer to the operating system are "WRONG".

I have no objection to your objection, stated as such.  Go for it!

But realize that your claim that this "insistence" constituted a
removal of your freedom, or the freedom to use GNU software under
the terms of the GPL, is what *I* was objecting to.  You implied
this by saying RMS was hypocritical to promote freedom and at the
same time state his opinions regarding naming.  I have no idea
how else you could interpret what you said.

>I think its scary that ANYONE follows him, ideologically. His ideology and 
>his actions seem inconsistent with each other. His followers tend towards 
>attributing messianic qualities to his teachings. He's a great coder, but a 
>VERY poor leader, IMHO.

I can't think of anyone offhand who meets the description in that
third sentence of yours.

I can think of *lots* of people who have worked, and continue to work, on
FSF/GNU stuff and support many of its most important goals, who would
agree with the fourth sentence.

The second sentence I don't agree with -- much, and not in this instance.
His ideology includes giving people the freedom to use and modify
GNU software and call it basically anything they want.  His actions
include insisting they use the names he likes.  Those actions do
not *contradict* his ideology nor the GPL.

That seems to be the only point about which you are truly confused --
you seem to confuse his exercising his freedom of speech with a
removal of your freedom of speech.  It does not, and I don't recall
him ever saying anything that would indicate he *thinks* he has
that power.

>Hey, if I could code C worth a damn, I'd be down in the trenches tinkering 
>alongside the masses.

Didn't stop me.  ;-)

>Hey! We agree on something. :)  I know I would take a bullet to keep my 
>guns. :)

(I might take a bullet to let you keep yours.  Me, I don't believe in
guns or violence, but I do believe in freedom.)

>>This is an aspect of something schools don't
>>teach about democracy: 9 people wanting pepperoni pizza versus 1 person
>>who wants anchovies does *not* mean pepperoni gets ordered if that
>>one person is willing to die, or at least kill, for those anchovies.
>Actually, no, that would be an accurate statement for democracy. Democracy 
>is where every person has an equal say in what happens and majority rules.

Ah, I misstated my point: it's an aspect about *practical* democracy
that isn't taught.  You're right, "democracy" itself says that
the nine *should* get what they want; in practice, i.e. in this case,
they would probably not, especially if they didn't have a strong

Point being that the only way those 9 people get what they want in
that instance is if enough of them *love* democracy *itself* enough
to be willing to die, and therefore perhaps kill or at least disarm
(at great personal risk) the one anchovie-lover.  (It's not their love
of pepperoni, else they wouldn't need to be a majority, just a majority
of *force*.  But if a majority of people in a democracy are themselves
*makers*, i.e. *enforcers*, not just *lovers*, of democracy, then they'll
be what maintains the rule of law sufficient to allow democracy to
actually *operate* in *practice*.  The blood of the few thus maintains
the rights of the many.)

I raise this to illustrate the importance of a freedom-*loving* movement
like Linux, GNU, Open Source, whatever, also having a strong freedom-
*making* contingent, to avoid long-term decay of the freedoms they

RMS has done more than anyone I can think of offhand to promote
freedom-*making* in the free-software/OSS community over the past
20+ years, the past 10, even the past 5.

Now, plenty of people have done lots to spread the *love* of freedom,
and plenty of done lots to *make* that freedom.  ESR, Linus, even (to
a much lesser degree) myself, are examples.

But what RMS does, in his own inimitable way, is to convince a few
people here and there of the importance of, in essence, *fighting* for

That means being prepared to *continue* making freedom by, in this
case, writing more free software, and especially making it *not*
useful in the battle *against* free software by putting it under
the GPL.

And *that* means people who were persuaded to recognize, in the first
place, that the software they use was written by somebody who loved
freedom enough to make it for *them*.  Knowing they are using "GNU/Linux"
instead of just "Linux" -- even if they learn this through otherwise
apparently mindless rants by people like me -- *can* help that, and
one person convinced to value *and make* freedom is worth 10 who
*claim* to have been "turned off by the whole thing" even after
having had plenty of opportunity to see through the emotion into
the rationality of the underlying issues, because none of those 10
would likely have contributed much *anyway*, IMO.

(ESR's writings on OSS probably rank quite high among creating freedom-
makers, when I think about it more.  But I do wonder how many of those
might be eroded if the apparent practical benefits of OSS, upon which he
largely bases his arguments, are themselves eroded, somehow, down the

>Now, if the minority has the means to effective reduce the number of people 
>in the majority, then they are simply using democracy to their advantage.

Indeed, but that wasn't the scenario I envisioned.

>If you're describing a situation where you end up with a pizza that is 90% 
>pepperoni and 10% anchovies, let me point you at the Libertarian Party, 
>where that would seem to be more in line with their thinking.

Heh, well, no thanks.  I'm perhaps libertarian in thinking, but more
interested in analyzing government/regulation/software vis-a-vis the
surrounding social fabric, the user base so to speak, than in making
pronouncements about what exact things government should or should not do.

>If you want to order 9 pepperoni pizzas and 1 anchovy pizza, that's an 
>anarchy, and there's groups for that too (even if that is a contradiction 
>in terms) *G*


No, again, the scenario I meant is where the vote is taken, the nine
pepperoni-lovers raise their hands, they say "majority wins", the
anchovie-lover whips out a semi-automatic and says "but I *really* want
an anchovie pizza [and we can afford only one]".

At that point, unless the nine pepperoni-lovers are *fanatics* about
pepperoni *or* about democracy, the probable response will be "well,
okay, anchovies it is!", as if the vote was just retaken.

(Getting back to gun control: the "majority" might appear to favor
it.  After all, they count among the cost of guns all those crimes,
school shootings, etc.  But they don't count among the cost of gun
*control* episodes like Ruby Ridge, Waco, and especially not the
Oklahoma City Bombing.  As long as they *assume*, perhaps subconsciously,
that big men with guns will implement the "control" part *for* them,
and thus take the bullets as happened at Waco, they'll wrap themselves
in the comfort of the belief -- true or not -- that their views,
when implemented, will make for a better world.  Convince them that
it'll instead be *their* sons and daughters who'll do the "control",
take the bullets, etc., and I predict we'd see what we saw after the
middle-class/wealthy white folk saw *their* sons get drafted to
serve in Vietnam: a sudden re-thinking of whether it's all worthwhile,
which was *not* the majority concern prior to that widespread drafting.
That drafting did not change the willingness of the North Vietnamese
to shoot at American GIs, of course; here, they represent the
armed anchovie-lover, as a sort of proxy for the "make love not war"
crowd in the US at the time.  That crowd never would have gotten any
traction had the North Vietnamese stopped shooting earlier on, as
Operation Desert Storm, and especially the countless subsequent armed
incursions by the USA, ended up proving: we're not, and never were,
a "make love not war" country, but we are some combination of "make war
to preserve our freedoms" people and a "have someone else make war to
provide us with the illusion of peace" people.  The latter presently
control the military, just as they did during the crucial Vietnam

The free-software equivalent is that after all the years of talk
and threat on g.m.d, I've rarely seen any actual *action* against
the GNU project as threatened.  I've seen people threaten to write
a completely public-domain C compiler to blow away GCC and its
horrible GPL (plus its bad design, whatever), and more frequently
threaten to create a better, GNU-free Linux distribution, but it
doesn't happen.

But let the GNU people get a whiff of despotic control over their
lives, e.g. Qt, and "suddenly" you get Gnome and Harmony (for
what that's worth).

The "semi-automatic" here is the collective coding talent of people
wielding it like RMS, Torvalds, and other contributors to GPL'ed software.

The pepperoni-pizza lovers here are those who said the GPL was "too
restrictive", but didn't bring enough weaponry, ammo, *and* resolve
to make sure their vision didn't get trumped by the GPL "vision".

(They brought some, of course; for which we all should be grateful,
in the sense that it helped realize a larger free-software/OSS vision
versus getting trumped by the Microsoft tunnel-vision.  I.e. it isn't
that Apache or FreeBSD doesn't represent advanced weaponry or resolve,
just that there needed to be a lot more of what they *do* represent
to deep-six the GPL, which, at least right now, appears to dominate.)

It's just been my experience that, mostly anecdotal cases (like mine,
especially initially) aside, the people who *make* a revolution happen
through their daily deeds, steadfast resolve, and so on, are those
who take the hard line to heart, whatever it might be.  While the
*bulk* of the *people* find that line too "hard", the bulk of the
*hard workers* tend, in the end, to be more comfortable with it,
especially if it protects the fruits of their hard work (thus illustrating
the tensions between the OSS licenses, PD, etc., since different
people have different ideas of "protection" and "fruits", just
as one guy in a foxhole is willing to die for his neighborhood,
another for the gal he's going to marry and her "freedom", another
for "American ideals", etc.).

I view the name "GNU/Linux" as a (belated) attempt to, in large part,
ensure that those who come aboard the Linux worker-bee effort have
a better opportunity to understand what that "hard line" is about
and make a choice how and whether to contribute to it.  The more that
also see themselves as part of the GNU worker-bee effort, the better,
generally speaking, and the more they value the freedoms that GNU
was about carving out (moreso than Linux, though it was also about carving
out some practical freedoms GNU put on the back burner, like a PC-based
Unix), the better.

That's why I see it as fairly counterproductive for free-software
factions to simply attack each other as "hypocrites" just because
they have slightly different sets of freedoms, priorities for
those freedoms, ways of expressing themselves, etc.  Not that I've
been entirely innocent of such attacks myself, but I *rarely*
instigate them -- I'm usually in the position of trying to defend
someone against an unjustified attack, someone who, in another forum
or another time, I might well yell at for attacking someone *else*.

>>But I doubt *those* people whine that RMS, when he pushes the "GNU/Linux"
>>name, is somehow "taking away their freedom".  They might just ignore
>>his requests, or loudly reject them, but they probably have a better
>>notion of what "freedom" is than you do -- after all, they've *worked*
>>for it.
>I never claimed he was "taking away my freedom". My claim has been that for 
>him to say that people are WRONG for using Linux's given name, then he is 
>himself wrong.

Here is what you wrote:

*>If you insist that people who incorporated the GNU code into their project 
*>name their work after the GNU product, then we have a very monumental task 
*>ahead of us, that being divesting ourselves of the GNU project for one that 
*>truly believes in freedom, since that requirement is completely foreign to 
*>any type of freedom that I am aware of.

Among other things.  How does this not equate RMS (correctly, in
one precise case to which you responded with this) saying that
the name of the operating system he created was "GNU" with an
attempt to take away your freedom to use another name?

Note your transition from "insist" in that paragraph to "requirement".

RMS can insists all he wants.  He cannot actually "require" anyone
to call a GNU/Linux distribution "GNU/Linux".

Why are you wasting time insisting RMS is "hypocritical" to have
given people freedom to do X and then to ask them to *not* do X,
when that is, after all, pretty much the only way anyone can
credibly be said to have *given* freedom to anyone?  (I.e. the
freedom to not do what they say to do later on.)

The only way that would be hypocritical is if RMS first gave that
freedom, then *took it back*.

Hence you are saying that RMS asking/insisting/begging for use
of "GNU/Linux" constitutes his *taking away freedom* (that he gave you).

What have I missed here?  If you're referring to something else,
please clarify.

>Clear evidence that Linux does not strive to be the GNU system RMS talks 
>about. The Linux users were more than willing to cannibalize code from the 
>GNU system, but didn't care if it still worked with other OS's. Why? 
>Because they were building THEIR OWN operating system, Linux.

Right.  Which apparently caused all sorts of problems, leading to
something of a backtrack among some Linux developers to undo the
damage that caused.  (I've gotten a similarly-reliable impression
that, for a time, the FSF, or at least RMS, was actually antagonistic
towards accepting Linux-oriented contributions to GNU...which, if true,
would have been pretty much equally damaging.)

But, by the way, I don't personally recall *any* announcement about
them building their own *operating system* along the lines of the
announcement about the GNU project.  If there was such an announcement,
I'd love to see it!

(Note that I do *not* mean an announcement about writing a *kernel*.
I mean one saying, in effect, "we are going to build an operating system
called Linux, it will consist of our kernel, plus all the usual Unix-like
utilities, which we'll initially provide via GNU versions modified to
suit our vision and tastes".  That's what the GNU announcement said,
in essence -- "GNU's Not Unix", and all that.)

My impression has been that, by the time Linux enthusiasts had it brought
to their attention that their system *was* a GNU system, they were
so caught up in the "coolness" of the "Linux" name, there was little
chance they'd agree.  Preceding that with the "lignux" debacle only
poisoned the well further.  But, I don't recall any announcement
in the Linux community that they were building an operating system
of a GNU or Unix "shape" that was to be something *other* than GNU
itself...I thought they were just plugging away making the kernel,
and the kernel-specific utilities, more to their liking, and leaving
most of the GNU components alone to the extent they were happy with them.

My impression could *easily* be wrong, because I wasn't reading
comp.os.linux.announce during its entire history -- it might have
even predated that.

But if I'm right, please understand there's a difference between
RMS saying "I'm going to start Project GNU, here's what it'll be,
here's what it'll consist of, here's how I expect to get parts of
it built or from where I expect to acquire them", and Linux people
saying "gee, now that we think about it, that system we were building
out of standard GNU components plus the Linux kernel we spent 99.5%
of our efforts on, let's call *that* whole system `Linux', because
that's what we were *really* building all that time", upon hearing
somebody else proposing a name for "their" system.

I mean, yes, RMS tried "lignux" and especially "GNU/Linux" too late,
but AFAICT Linux enthusiasts tried the "we're really building our
own operating system, not just a kernel that fits into GNU" line
*much* later (in the pertinent timeline) by comparison.

(That's because RMS set out with a Grand Vision, which Linus and his
followers did not.  I'm not saying we should therefore reward RMS
and punish Linus, since I'm not so sure we should always reward
people who set out with Grand Visions per se...but once they
*achieve* them, we should perhaps listen to them as much as we do
to those who set out to build a garden and instead discover a continent.)

>Agreed wholeheartedly. I think RMS, and by extension the FSF, did 
>themselves far more harm than good in the debacle.

Wouldn't be the only time.  ;-/

>I think that by the 
>FSF's leader CONTINUING the debacle prolongs the damage it causes. The 
>FSF/GNU project as well as RMS, would be far better off "letting go" of the 
>code. As it stands, they tend to come across as "my code my code my code 
>give me credit dammit" types. Not an attack, just a reality. When SEEING 
>that kind of response, people may pause to wonder about OTHER GPL'ed 
>software, wondering "If I incorporate THAT GNU product into my project, am 
>I going to face this nightmare like the Linux folks did", which may scare 
>them away from the GPL. This does not, one would think, further RMS's goals 
>of freedom and such.

Agreed generally, but some of this nightmare can be avoided by
calmly and rationally recognizing the realities behind the
controversy, starting by discarding any notion that RMS was
being "hypocritical" or anti-freedom by stating his views vis-a-vis

Once people understand that in 1984 or so, RMS sketched out a design
for an entire operating system called GNU, i.e. GNU's Not Unix, that
he did *tons* of legwork to get lots of people (including myself) to
work on its constituent parts, and that, for much of that time, he
*assumed* the kernel would come from another source (be "freed" so
it could be GPL'ed, or similar) and *not* be written from scratch for

...then perhaps they can coolly and rationally recognize why RMS
has had *this* particular bee up his bonnet (i.e. Linux came along
in a "freed" state anyway, the FSF finally recognized its usefulness
despite its non-portability compared to the other kernels it had
been eyeing and then the Hurd it started designing).

And, having done that, they should have no trouble recognizing how
unlikely another situation like that is, in practice.

In other words: just because you disagree 100% with RMS on *this* issue,
if you (whoever you are) can suspend your emotional response just long
enough to see *why* he might have at least *thought* he had good reason
to do what he did, you'll then be *free* to recognize that he wasn't
doing something *just* to claim credit, *just* to steal mindshare, *just*
because he's insane, or whatever.

Then you can go away and happily bring GNU components into your project,
knowing that you are free to name it however you (and your users) like,
with little risk that RMS will come along and make up a new name for it.

And that, if he tries to do so, he'll have even less ground to stand
on, and thus even less support then he had for "lignux" and "GNU/Linux",
which is especially important when you consider how little support
he had among some of his biggest supporters on those issues.

        tq vm, (burley)