free media alliance
free software, free culture, free hardware
calling it "gnu plus linux" is far too generous[lit]
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"linux" is a lie lasting nearly 30 years. the lie is that linus torvalds created it, and there are multiple generations of people who make that mistake. he was given far too much credit-- and people even attribute their "freedom" to his work. we will get back to that freedom in a minute.
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"open source" is only 22, but has its own official narrative about this story.
for many years, richard stallman (founder of the gnu project and free software) has offered a compromise. lets call it gnu[lit]/[lit]linux, or gnu+linux.
when asked, "why not just call it gnu?" he says he doesnt want to "stoop to their level."
so lets talk about what level that would actually be.
before there was a viable alternative (other than apple, which in many ways is better but in some ways just as bad or even worse) a lot of the people who "hate" microsoft today, were abused by microsoft in the past.
it doesnt make you a bad person to hate a company that abuses your trust. but torvalds implies it does.
but we can get back to "hate," too.
open source, the movement that torvalds endorses, has spent 22 years misrepresenting free software as nothing more than petty bickering, minor contributors of yesteryear, and religious zealots.
if you didnt know better, you could make the argument based on a ridiculous superficial interpretation-- and that is what open source-- from its founders to its current leadership, to torvalds himself-- asks you to do.
this is what "+linux" really means.
of course linux is also a kernel, and if we really stooped to torvalds level we would take the kernel and call it "the gnu kernel." because he took the gnu operating system, and called it linux.
but simply not mentioning the name of the kernel all the time? bsd, by definition-- is the name of the operating system. windows is not called ntkernel, macOS is not called darwin, microsoft dos was not called msdos.sys (ok, ms-dos really didnt have a name for the kernel, similar to bsd and even unix itself)-- "linux" is actually a pretty weird exception to this rule.
when msdos bought qdos, they could have changed the name to whatever they wanted. but they kept 75% of the name (of the operating system, qdos isnt a kernel) and ibm called their version ibmdos.
but lets look at more recent history.
simon phipps used to say that its simply a petty insignificant argument, like life of brians "peoples front of judea" vs. "judean peoples front." the insignificant argument is that free software means anything apart from "open source." that is an extremely disingenuous claim, given what open source has done for 22 years.
no, its more like deliberately minimising the work and sacrifice from most of the world in world war ii, and giving all the credit to the americans for coming in later and winning it. the icing on the cake is that phipps conveniently ignores the fact that it is actually open source that started that petty argument themselves.
"we are like free software, except better." is a meme that has co-opted free software for more than 20 years. and it isnt just co-opting, and rewriting history to paint themselves as more important-- they take money for it as well!
and what do you get for funding open source? you get an organisation that smears and misrepresents you for standing up for the user, that rewards (rather than corrects) lies and half-truths about the origins of their software, and you get cozier with microsoft, who comes along and buys github (true, using github was never a good idea in the first place-- now you know why) and eventually co-opts gnu even further.
but according to this dishonest group of pretenders to the throne, you have no right to criticise microsoft at all.
hating microsoft is "a disease", according to torvalds.
in light of his recent comments that facebook is also "a disease", (no argument there) one must ask about this blatant double standard--
at what point exactly does a technology company go from being a company which the hatred of is 'a disease', to a company that is 'a disease' itself?
how can torvalds tell the difference? because if he were consistent, he would say that "hating facebook is a disease"-- but of course, it isnt.
hating liars isnt a disease. when torvalds said that free software is about "exclusion and hatred" and called free software advocates "extremists", he was telling an enormous lie.
what is "extreme" about free software? that they wish to boycott all other software.
what is "all other software?" software that comes with a new (some say unfair) licensing scheme that came about in the late 1970s and early 80s, thwarting many developers who started the free software movement to fix that problem.
so boycotting software that is licensed and distributed in a way that thwarts further development is "extremist", according to torvalds.
well, thats a lie. and its a lie that serves the old dishonest narrative of "we are like free software, except better." --the lie that co-opted everything free software has done.
is it about hatred?
well, its okay to hate facebook. its okay to give nvidia the finger. why is microsoft sacred?
its not. microsoft has tried for years to steal both gnu and linux-- or steal gnu, and somehow buy linux.
because if microsoft controls the gnu project, then the project has failed entirely in its mission. the point of gnu is to not be dependent on monopolies.
open source keeps working to be sure we are at least partly dependent on monopolies. that is detrimental to everything free software does. free software works to cut off the strings, open source adds a couple more. "but wait, this new string is really cool! dont be so extreme!"
when stallman says open source "misses the point," he is being far too generous. open source works to slightly reverse freedom-- at all times-- while free software constantly works to make freedom possible.
every time open source makes something free, something less free comes along for the ride. ubuntu tries to make universal packages-- which require you to register for their apple-like app store, and which is now heavily promoting microsoft visual studio code, an ide which brings microsoft telemetry onto your "free" operating system.
we arent just talking about giving microsoft a seat at the table, we are talking about giving them the table and letting them add their own corporate surveillance to it.
microsoft has threatened companies like suse and red hat, and had companies including suse sign "patent agreements" which officially claim that microsoft owns "linux."
this is their thing, after losing the sco battle to get courts to say they own "linux."
the patents themselves, were worthless except as a dishonest way of clubbing smaller companies and taking their work, and are increasingly worthless in a patent system that has inchwormed its way in the direction of reform. the easiest way to reinforce those bogus patents is to get large companies (who help develop the software these days, as per the license) to confess that microsoft really owns it.
at worst, they can go back to the courts and present it as evidence that "yes, these developers (all free software developers) are stealing our property, and we wish to force them to stop."-- to end development of gnu and linux.
at best, they can weasel out of any requirements to follow the license, which becomes void when issued by people who dont "own" gnu and linux.
and that seems like the most likely future-- microsoft eventually not only rebranding linux (as azure) but relicensing it on their own terms, as "we clearly own it."
why not? thats exactly what bsd eventually did to at&t. thats what android has more or less done. why not microsoft?
when the primary aim of a company throughout its entire history is to purchase and[lit]/[lit]or destroy its competition by any means possible, and the primary aim of the gnu operating system is to have an alternative to their monopoly-- why is it wrong to hate microsoft and okay to hate facebook?
torvalds has no answer, because he is a liar.
he lies about free software, he lies about the gnu operating system, and he lies about microsoft.
the linux kernel deserves credit as the linux kernel-- and it deserves credit as one of the best (lets not discount bsd too much, what really makes the linux kernel great is a bunch of nifty addons and extra drivers, its probably best described as "an enterprise-friendly toy version of the unix kernel") kernels ever written to date.
its a great kernel, and we can thank torvalds for writing it.
but thats as far as it needs to go, and we dont actually have to like (or overly honour) someone who has spent years working to marginalise and misrepresent and co-opt everything we do.
in light of that, it is appropriate to simply call it gnu.
fortunately, the free media alliance does not speak directly for the fsf, so it doesnt have to do what the fsf recommends.
the fsf recommends a compromise. maybe weve already been "compromised" enough by years of slander and lies against us.
perhaps its time to stop holding out "gnu[lit]/[lit]linux" and "gnu+linux" to people who dont deserve it, and arent interested.
its not like it ever stopped being the "gnu operating system." and gnu stands for the honesty and integrity of free software, not the lies and misrepresentation from open source.
but when should we still call it "gnu[lit]/[lit]linux"?
perhaps if stallman requests it, we can call it "gnu[lit]/[lit]linux" when talking to him, if he corrects us.
"so richard, the gnu operating system"
"ok, ok, gnu[lit]/[lit]linux operating system..."
"unless it uses the hurd kernel, then its gnu+hurd or since hurd is part of the gnu project, just gnu is fine."
"no problem, so gnu[lit]/[lit]linux"
if he insists in conversation, we might as well humour him. he did write the thing, after all.
and for the organisations that have met us halfway, and called it "gnu[lit]/[lit]linux" along with us?
it would be unfair (or even dishonest) to pull the rug out from under them, and simply call it "gnu" in that context.
insomuch as people only call the operating system "linux," it is reasonable to call it gnu.
and this could even mean an end to the corrections-- theyre going to call it something else, we are going to call it what it actually is.
and we absolutely shouldnt stoop to torvalds level, and refer to the kernel as "the gnu kernel." when we speak of the linux kernel, we should of course call it by its name.
but the operating system already had a name, before the linux kernel even existed.
why not simply call it that? when you account for more than one kernel, and speak of it broadly, it is not "gnu+linux," it is the gnu operating system.
linux (the kernel) doesnt need so much credit-- it already gets far more than it ever deserved. we dont have to help them (along with microsoft) take even more as free software continues to work against the decades of lies and marginalisation against it.
the real "linux" (gnu) timeline:
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