It has been a while since my last post and so to kick start the blog up again I thought I would write a little opinion piece.
This article has come about because every time I post a link on Twitter with the #Linux tag I get a tweet from a guy calling himself Richard Stallman (@rmsthebot) telling me that I should be using GNU/Linux and not Linux.
Why The Fuss?
Linux really just amounts to the Kernel. The average Linux distribution has more GNU in it than Linux. GNU generally refers to a collection of tools and libraries shipped along with the Linux kernel such as the GNU CoreUtils, C compiler, BASH etc.
Logically speaking if I were to write an article stating that there is a new release of a Linux distribution available I should say the GNU/Linux distribution because otherwise I am giving all the credit to the Linux kernel and no credit to GNU.
So in theory every time I use the word Linux I should say GNU/Linux unless I am specifically talking about the kernel.
This Is All Of Course Nonsense
Everybody knows Linux as Linux. Nobody really uses the term GNU/Linux do they? If you look at the magazines on the shelf of your local newsagents then you will see “Linux Format“, “Linux User And Developer” and “Linux Journal“.
The truth is that barely anybody uses the term GNU/Linux. Does anybody really care that the Linux Action Show isn’t called the GNU/Linux Action Show or that Linux Luddites aren’t the GNU/Linux Luddites?
Average users don’t care that by grouping applications, desktops and the Linux kernel together you are now talking about GNU/Linux and not just Linux.
Even Linus Agrees
According to this Wikipedia page (and everybody knows Wikipedia is always right) Linux Torvalds agrees with me:
Well, I think it’s justified, but it’s justified if you actually make a GNU distribution of Linux … the same way that I think that “Red Hat Linux” is fine, or “SuSE Linux” or “Debian Linux”, because if you actually make your own distribution of Linux, you get to name the thing, but calling Linux in general “GNU Linux” I think is just ridiculous
There Is Already Enough Confusion
New users to Linux already have enough to be confused about with hundreds of distributions, dozens of desktop environments, an incredible selection of software packages for each type of application, different packaging systems and different installers and even different ways to create a bootable USB drive.
If that isn’t enough new users have to understand the difference between a standard bios and UEFI, xinit and systemd, mir and wayland.
I think making users care whether you call it Linux or GNU/Linux is just completely unnecessary. So @RMSTheBot I am afraid I will not be acquiescing to your request. I will continue to use the #Linux tag.
What do you think? Do you call it Linux or GNU/Linux?