Subject: Re: GNU/
Date: 16 Oct 1999 04:33:09 -0000

>[ This was a VERY long piece and I've tried to cut it down in relevant 
>sections without destroying the intent or missing important bits. ]

[Wise move, and I've changed the Subject header per another subthread,
which I forgot to do on my previous email on this subthread.]

>So, ... why would anyone call it GNU/Linux? The name that got applied to it 
>by those who Were There was "Linux", for reasons of (apparently) simplicity 
>and coolness.

Some people decided to call it GNU/Linux (I do on my web page, for
example) because it seemed like a more appropriate name.  (I don't
choose names based merely on "coolness", since I'm no longer a
teenager...and even "simplicity" isn't, from a purely syllabic
viewpoint, as important to me as it once was.)

>I'm worried about the damage that RMS's continued ranting on the topic 
>causes the movement(s). Will his ranting about "Linux vs. GNU/Linux" at 
>anyone who will give him column-inches make someone who was a fence-sitter 
>decide to "stick with closed source stuff" because it is less of a hassle 
>to deal with "than those guys who complain if you actually incorporate the 
>code like they say you can."

Ah, yes, the old "RMS's continued ranting" canard.

Which used to work fine.

But not in this case.

I suggest everyone take a deep breath and actually review the *history*
of the use of the text "GNU/Linux" in this recent thread, and see
who started it, who continued discussing it, and how many people chimed
in before RMS said one peep about it.

You'll find names in there like Russ Nelson and -- voila -- yourself!

But, I agree, it's *so* much easier to just repeat to oneself "this is
RMS ranting again" over and over while insisting on the freedom to
loudly proclaim "I won't call my system GNU/Linux".  ;-/

>>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.
>I would say that it continues to be hypocritical. It is hypocritical for 
>him to grant someone a right and then insist that they are wrong for using it.

Yes, in a world of people who have been miseducated about what "hypocrisy"
means, there will be people like yourself who persist in the delusion that
a statement like "I might disagree with what you say, but I will defend
to the death your right to say it" reflects a deep-seated hypocrisy (which
it does, according to your definition).

(Of course, you tell yourself RMS is insisting you are wrong for "using" this
right, which is, again of course, clearly *not* what he is doing.  Maybe
setting up straw-men so you can attack RMS helps you sleep better at
night; it wouldn't do me any good to behave that way.  But if you can
quote him saying you were wrong to even *exercise* your right to choose
whatever name you want -- not just his saying he disagreed with your
choice -- then go ahead, make my day.)

>If exercising that right was so wrong, then he should never have granted it 
>in the first place.

That's fall-down funny, it's so completely insane.  Have you *never*
read up on ethics, rights, freedoms, etc.?  Are you just making all
these pronouncements up as you go along?

Thank goodness I didn't have you for a teacher, for some of those times
I made mistakes, you would have decided they were "so wrong" you would
have denied my right to make them in the first place!  Perhaps you
would have sued me as a youth for saying "2 + 2 = 3" by mistake?

>Exactly my point I've been making all along. They aren't GNU people, 
>they're Linux people.

Exactly the point.  Therefore, they do not contribute to GNU at all,
in which case, they should reconsider whether to use GNU code at all,
since it won't get better in ways they care about in the long run.

Now, do *I* really believe that?  No, but *I'm* not the one promoting
divisiveness in the free-software community here.  *You* are, and
some other Linuxers have been in the past.

That I haven't had more than a little time to study and improve Linux
in the past eight or so years did not *ever* cause me to consider
myself a "GNU-and-not-Linux" person in terms of what I *used* and
considered myself appreciative, and therefore supportive, of.

It's sad to read so much explanation amounting to "Linux people care
not one whit about the need for, or success of, GNU".

After all, as you say, they're Linux people, not GNU people, so in
the cases where they *do* use GNU code, it's purely a one-way
transaction: "we take the code and do with it what we please".

GNU people, in my experience, don't think in those terms.  Hence the
importance of getting patches back into the mainline in the GNU

Of course, "Linux people" are free to do what they want.  As has
long been observed about freedom, it doesn't last if it isn't
defended.  Which implies that *not* defending it is "wrong".

Which, in *your* world-view, implies that anyone promoting the
freedom to *choose* whether and how to defend freedom, then
saying that it *must* be defended, is a hypocrite.

>Nor do they need to be. They have found the code they needed, edited it, 
>patched it, modified it, etc., all in accordance with the rights granted 
>them by the GPL.

Yes, that's very nice of them to take what they need and not contribute
back to it.  How nice of them to merely exercise their rights, and
not give anything back to the group that helped them get where they are
-- a group that would (and, to my knowledge, does) *not* treat them
that way in return.

(I suspect you overstate the opinion of irrelevance the Linux camp
holds for GNU, but I'm going with what you claim.  If it bothers you,
ask yourself, why?...since it is consistent with what you yourself
are saying.)

(An aside to others: there is plenty of evidence that what he says
about Linux developers is not true on the GCC2/EGCS/GCC mailing lists
over the past few years.  Having said that, the *content* of those
messages suggests there is *some* truth to what he says: Linuxers,
probably more than any other group, are most likely to not bother
providing decent bug reports with patches, insist on keeping their own
separate patches going, trashing the reputations of GCC developers when
they don't jump to support whatever feature/behavior they need at that
moment, etc.  That's mainly why I've lost interested in moving
from g77/GCC work to Linux work, personally -- it wouldn't be a good
match, since I don't *want* to treat people the way Linux people
treat GCC developers, and in fact I need an environment where I'm
*expecting* to treat people better in order to more consistently
meet that standard myself.  Not that the FSF offers all that great
an environment for me either, but the Linux camp has got to be the
worst of the free-software camps I've come into contact with when
it comes to treating other camps with respect, in terms of *breadth*
of how its representatives treat others...*in* *my* *experience*,
I must stress.)

>Agreed. But those who started things off didn't call it that, and anything 
>else is strictly hypothetical.  If it was strictly hypothetical, there wouldn't have been
.001% written about "GNU/Linux" compared to what *has* been.

>I never claim he "negates" or "removes" my freedom to call Linux whatever I 
>like. My point is that one has to wonder why he is so vehemently opposed to 
>people exercising their right to call the collection whatever they want. If 
>he is so all-gung-ho for freedom, he shouldn't be complaining that they're 
>exercising that freedom.

He isn't.  He's complaining about *how* they're exercising it.  Again,
people indoctrinated into today's "anything that's a right is a
guarantee, anything that's wrong is forbidden by government" (or
some approximation thereof) culture don't understand this.

>>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.
>Wait wait wait.. your logic here makes no sense. "calling it whatver you 
>want" and "call it what I like" are contradictory. Thus, his ideology (the 
>former) does contradict the actions (the latter).

No.  I am using logic; you are using the results of your years of
indoctrination (I would guess) at the hands of an inferior educational

RMS has (for the purposes of this argument) granted the *freedom* for
you to call a collection of GNU software (or any GNU program) whatever
you want.

He has not thereby disclaimed the right to loudly proclaim that the
choice you made was wrong.

Therefore, his exercising *his* right to free speech does not in any way
contradict *your* right to use whatever name you want, even though he
*granted* you that right.

But now I can see why you don't see RMS's statements as *precisely*
"taking away freedom", as I had put it earlier.  Sorry: I had made
a simple leap of logic that clearly did not apply to the way you
rationalize about these issues.

So thanks for taking the time to walk me through your thinking on
this issue.

>And that freedom includes fighting against someone who tries to control 
>what you call your product (note that I did not say EXERCISES CONTROL, but 

Precisely.  If "fighting against someone..." includes falsely claiming
they're a hypocrite, then I guess that's what you've been doing here,
though I'd hope it'd stop until you had some opportunity to get some
independent, trusted input on what I'm claiming about your reasoning
being fallacious.

But now that it's clear (to me, anyway) you're simply wrong regarding
the meaning of "hypocrisy" and the application of simple logic
to statements of fact, I can stop worrying you're doing it just
to make RMS look bad without really believing it (which *is* a
popular tactic in some circles, e.g. some political groups).

So you *do* really believe he's a hypocrite...just, you're wrong,
and now it's clear *how* you're wrong to anyone reading this.

So even if you persist in believing you're right, I won't bother
correcting you again.  Maybe others will, but I would no longer consider
your statements about who is or isn't hypocrical, or about other
things requiring more than one or two steps in the logic of
ethics, freedoms, rights, etc., to have any weight worth worrying about.

>The practical benefits of freedom have been eroded for years, but the love 
>of freedom remains. Likewise, the love of OSS will continue to remain as 
>well, methinks.

Not among people who can't distinguish the right or freedom to do a thing
from the right*ness* or wrong*ness* of doing that thing a particular way.
Those people are too conflicted to be of much use, IMO, in the battle for
freedom.  I hope this mis-education hasn't been a major source
of the anti-RMS venom I've seen coming from the Linux camp for the
past few years!  (Not that I've got a dearth of leads as to where
it comes from, having worked with RMS off and on for quite some time
now.  ;-)

>Sounds like a relevant example: When a company I worked for was about to 
>make a Very Stupid Decision, it was me (a Lead NOC Engineer), some VP's, 
>some Directors, some mgr's, etc.  I refused to go along with their V.S.D. 
>and tendered my resignation effectively immediately, and excused myself so 
>I could pack up my desk. As you say, an unspoken revote is taken in moments 
>like those.

An excellent example indeed.

>To give the freedom and then complain that you use it is fairly 
>hypocritical to most peoples' eyes.

If that's so, it is indeed a sad commentary on the state of the
educational system.  But it certainly explains the anti-smoking
hysteria currently gripping the USA, among other things.

>I think that statement comes much later in life because it had seemed 
>patently obvious until RMS came along with the "GNU/Linux" abomination.

"GNU/Linux" would not have been considered an abomination, IMO, had
it been properly presented.  "lignux" *was* an abomination, mainly because
of how it was handled, and IMO that poisoned the well for "GNU/Linux",
though "lignux" might be a worse name than "GNU/Linux" out of the box.

Had the Linux people had the foresight to see this problem coming
and had worked with RMS the way the EGCS people did, they might
well have come up with "GNU/Linux" themselves.  If they had chosen
a better name, great, but I doubt they would have referred to
"GNU/Linux" as an abomination.  (I suspect the EGCS people looked
to the "GNU/Linux" debacle as an example of how not to ignore
the wishes of others, even when you have the *right* to do so, but
I'm not *sure* the one happened before the other offhand.)

I doubt you'll trust me on this, but I can say with nearly 100% certainty
that the vast majority of belief that the *name* "GNU/Linux" is an
abomination is purely the result of the circumstances under which
it was introduced.  For a non-advertising type, I have a pretty good
ear/eye for what does and doesn't work in terms of spoken phrases,
written phrases, and so on, pertaining to marketing and acceptability.
"GNU/Linux" isn't all that bad.  It has a lot going for it, and some
going against it (just as "Redhat Linux" does, it has three syllables,
probably one too many, for example...note that that didn't prevent
"Redhat Linux" from catching on as a name).

And I'm sure if you do some research into naming success/failure
stories, you'll find some shockers, so I won't bring up other
examples.  The point is, it wasn't the *name* RMS chose that
was the problem -- it was how the name was "deployed", and
the circumstances leading up to it (including the delay vis-a-vis
the perception that the "operating system including Linux" was
nearing completion and thus already *had* a name) that turned
"GNU/Linux" into what might as well be an obscenity in some

>>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.
>I think that's an overly optimistic viewpoint, as evidenced by the wide 
>number of people even within the OSS community he has alienated, let alone 
>people who aren't nearly as familiar with the situation as they.

It's not overly optimistic, since it is conditional on a given individual
being *able* to suspend emotional response.  Whether enough people *can*,
I did not venture to say.

Personally, RMS has definitely alienated/antagonized me on a variety
of issues over the years.  Yet I seem to be capable of putting that
aside and speaking rationally and logically to issues such as this.
I very much doubt I'm unique in that ability, even though I've seen
(and been presented with) evidence of *some* degree of uniqueness
in small groups.

(My philosophy, or instinct anyway, is to rise to the defense of
anyone or any group unfairly attacked, with little regard to
whether I disagree with them.  That's perhaps why I don't
generally instigate assaults on others simply for doing something
I disagree with -- I'm too busy getting into fights over *defending*
them against others, which is, perhaps, a character flaw in and
of itself.)

>>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.
>... which is why I think he'd do himself, the FSF, and the entire 
>programming world a great deal of assistance by stopping his posturing on 
>that topic.

Perhaps if you and others wouldn't bring it up anymore....

        tq vm, (burley)