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

Thierry Vignaud thierry.vignaud at gmail.com
Tue Mar 8 14:15:32 CET 2011

On 3 March 2011 01:50, Michael Scherer <misc at zarb.org> wrote:
>> > Furthermore someone (like me and some others perhaps ) can be
>> > interesting in « popular education » (éducation populaire)  and
>> > relations between free software, free sciences free...
>> > Oversimplification of the word is always oversimplifaction of the
>> > concept. Even if it seems to be easier I see that as a fault.
>> I have seen the history of GNU and Linux and their "marriage" (because
>> the GNU people did not have any simple and free kernel for their
>> software). So, from my point of view there's a good chance that Linux
>> could have grown to a full operating system even without the GNU
>> project.
> The gnu project provided lots of software, some quite unavoidable like a
> compiler, a standard library, or stuff like screen, gettext and slightly
> low level tools ( binutils, coreutils, etc ).

Yes but on the other hand:
- libc was forked, then merged back in glibc (and is now mainly
maintained by RH).
  (And there's eglibc fork too)
-  gcc/binutils have concurrents: clang, llvm, ... (not yet at the
same level but still...)
   Same story: egcs fork, then "merged" back

whereas it's trut it was important what stallman and the fsf did, by
now, most important
pieces of the OS are no more provided by the GNU project itself:
- the kernel,
- several shells,
- all the graphical stack,
- most server softwares, ...
- Even at the lowest leve: udev, hal, ...

GNU project was important, but it's not the biggest part of a Linux distro.
Else shouldn't we be named "GNU/KDE/GNOME/FreeDesktop/.../ Mageia Linux"?

>> On the other side nobody could tell if the GNU project would
>> have survived without Linux. Both thoughts are speculations, of
>> course.
>> But would a GNU/Linux naming policy not neglect the merits of all the
>> other projects who actually made the "Gnu/Linux" system a real usable
>> package? Imagine a distribution only supplying Linux and what remains
>> from the GNU project (especially Emacs) - would any user actually use
>> it (except developpers and "tech freaks")?
> I doubt developers would use something without gcc ( granted, there is
> pcc or llvm ) and without a libc ( granted again, someone could use a
> alternative like dietlibc etc )

1) there're other compilers indeed
2) since ther merge back of egcs, gcc, while still under the GNU flag,
    is driven by the gcc steering commitee, no more by the FSF

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