[Mageia-discuss] Linux is a KERNEL not an OS

James Kerr jim at jkerr82508.free-online.co.uk
Wed Mar 2 14:47:12 CET 2011

On 02/03/11 12:24, Wolfgang Bornath wrote:
> 2011/3/2 Romain d'Alverny<rdalverny at gmail.com>:
>> On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 12:13, Michael Scherer<misc at zarb.org>  wrote:
>>> On Tue, 01 Mar 2011 22:29:09 -0600, Richard Couture wrote:
>>>> Throughout the pages at www.Mageia.org there are references to Linux
>>>> as if it is an OS or a distribution, [...]
>>> I would propose that if you wish to do it right, to first do it right from
>>> a mageia point of view. IE, that you should first post
>>> on the proper ml ( ie one dedicated to web, or marketing, I would start by
>>> marcom ). [...]
>> Yep. The point is relevant (common language use vs. precision) so
>> thank you Richard for bringing this up, in a good way.
>>> Second, if you really want to do it right, you should IMHO start with a
>>> patch, [...]
>> Although before a patch, the right message replacement should be
>> defined in marcom first.
>>> Three, [...]
>> And please avoid the "politically [in]correct" thing, it is fuzzy at
>> best and it contributes to defuse the stance.
>> As a side note, you will note that the Mageia end-product is to be
>> called "Mageia" and not "Mageia Linux" (neither "Mageia GNU/Linux" for
>> that matter). If it does, it's a matter of imprecision we can fix. And
>> we did launch the project as "Mageia, the new Linux distribution" -
>> this was a temporary launch title and it had to be short.
>> So the fix will be more in how we define this Mageia product as such
>> ("operating system"? "GNU/Linux distribution"? st else?) and relative
>> to what it uses/gathers (GNU/Linux indeed, but not only).
> As a side note:
> I met RMS when he held a speech in Frankfurt. He told me that he will
> not visit Linuxtag (nor reply to an invitation for a key note) until
> they change the event's name to "GNU/Linuxtag". I mention this to show
> his commitment about this point.
> But language and also expressions are a living thing. Today everybody
> is aware that "Linux" stands for the whole package while "kernel" is
> the current expression for the "real" Linux and everything else are
> tools and apps, where the GNU tools are just one part. What we now
> call "Linux" is far more than what RMS claims, it is not just
> GNU/Linux. It is also Mozilla/Linux, OpenOffice.org/Linux, etc.
> My personal opinion on that: to really be correct we have no other way
> to use either "Linux" or use [all tools and applications]/Linux, which
> would be ridiculous.

I agree with wobo. In English, and, I think, in many other modern 
languages, the meaning of a word is determined by common usage and not 
by what technical experts think it should mean.

The Oxford Dictionary, which (eventually) reflects common usage, and is 
the nearest we have to a definitive source in English, defines Linux as:

"an open-source operating system modelled on UNIX."

"Political in-correctness" often results from failure to recognise the 
changing meanings/connotations of words.


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