August 27th, 2007
Free Software purists spend/waste a lot of time explaining why GNU/Linux is the right name for the operating system and why just “Linux” is wrong, so these are my thoughts…
Alright, if I use the GNU operating system with Linux running as its kernel, then I’d be using GNU/Linux. But wait a second! Isn’t KDE or Gnome one of the most important parts of my system? After all, I wouldn’t use my computer with the command line interface. Also, out of all of the applications I use, how many of them are KDE-based or Gnome-based? Much more than those applications from the GNU project.
So, my desktop environment also deserves to be appended to the name of the system I use and therefore I’m actually using GNU/Linux/KDE. Although… If they say GNU/Linux instead of Linux because the kernel without GNU is useless, then I shouldn’t just append my desktop environment but also its widget toolkit, so I’m afraid the right name of the system I use is GNU/Linux/Qt/KDE. And now I wonder whether I should also append the X Windows System.
This is a mess and I think there are many more important things to do instead of trying to find out what’s the accurate name of my system (I just care about it being freedom-respectful). To sum up, GNU is the base of the operating system and thus my operating system should be called just “GNU”, but it’s unfortunately best known as “Linux” (which is not that bad, after all, it’s the core of the base sub-system)… Also, a drawback of using GNU is that it’s an acronym, which would lead to a hard-to-remember name for a highly important operating system (what’s its name? GUN? UNG? NGU?), specially for non-English speaking people (who won’t remember what GNU stands for).
For the above reasons Linux has always worked, while I’d still prefer to refer to it as GNU (although I often use GNU/Linux to avoid ambiguity). In the end, the name is not so important to me, as long as it isn’t ambiguous.