[Marxism] What's in a name? Linux vs. Stallman's GNU/Linux

Clay Claiborne clayclai at gmail.com
Wed Jan 1 17:11:27 MST 2014

First I would like to point out that you have so far been unresponsive
as to my arguments of social vs. private appropriation that are at the
heart of the question. Now to respond to the things you did raise.

On 01/01/2014 10:48 AM, Tristan Sloughter wrote:
> It would be donated labor if it wasn't something also expected of
> someone in order to get a job...
The tradition of employers looking employees with prior experience is
much older than computers, much less OSS. While there maybe positions
available that require no prior experience or education, they are
typically harder to find and pay less. Therefore there is a long
traditions of workers gaining such prior experience, typically through
an apprenticeship or internship which is labor donated directly to the
capitalist in order to get a job. The OSS gives programmers and
developers the opportunity to donate their labor to a social project
that is also likely to increase there chance of getting a job, and if
the job is one where the employer holds their OSS experience in high
regard, it is most likely they will be hired, and paid, to continue to
contribute to this social pool of labor product. Of course the company
is not doing this out of philanthropy, they are doing it because they
are deriving value from an OSS project and they want to see it extended
and improved for their benefit, nevertheless, unlike programmers hired
to produce proprietary software, the programmers hired to develop OSS
software are still contributing to that social pool as a byproduct of
their employer assigned tasks. 

> I don't know why you are asking me questions you know the answer to,
> hehe. I'm sure you know gnu.org has licenses listed and which aren't
> compatible, some of which like the APSL are certified by the OSI as open
> source.

I love RMS and have great respect for his past contributions, but one
look at the gnu.org website reveals the kind of fantasy world he is
living in now. The very first statement on the website, in answer to the
question "What is GNU?" says:
> GNU is a Unix-like operating system that is free software
> <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html>---it respects your freedom.
So we can see that in spite of his demand that the OS be called
GNU/Linux, he calls it GNU alone with no mention of Linux. But how can
GNU be called an operating system if it doesn't have a kernel? It can't
load programs, put a cursor on the screen or even boot a computer
without a kernel. Just about all computer people will tell you that the
kernel is the one essential defining element of an OS, just what
userland programs one might consider part of the OS or outside of it is
a very gray area that could be debated endlessly. One thing is clear,
without a kernel, you don't have an OS, so a more accurate statement
would be "GNU is a Unix-like operating system that doesn't exist yet."

So what about the GNU kernel? We are told on the same page:
> The Hurd, GNU's own kernel
> <http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/hurd.html>, is some way from being
> ready for daily use.
So thirty years after the start of GNU Project, they still don't have a
kernel. This speaks volumes about where a free OS would be if RMS had
his way. I wouldn't be writing this on Ubuntu Linux, GNU/Linux or even
the illusionary GNU OS. Most likely be writing it on some version of MS
Windows, which would be even more expensive and more restrictive than it
is now because they would have no real competition from a free OS.

The GNU website continues:
> Thus, GNU is typically used today with a kernel called Linux. This
> combination is the *GNU/Linux operating system*
> <http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html>. GNU/Linux is used by
> millions, though many call it "Linux" by mistake
> <http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html>.
So in RMS's mind GNU is an OS even though it doesn't have a functioning
kernel, but the Linux kernel, which can boot a computer on its own, is
not an OS without GNU. And even though the free software community,
after exhaustive [and wasteful] debate, opted to call it "Linux" 14
years ago, RMS is still insisting that "millions" .i.e. the whole world,
is mistaken about the name.

Well I know activists that insist that we be called Black and others
that insist we be called Afro-Americans, and each can marshal arguments
about why they are right and everyone else is mistaken. I find such
argument as divisive and a waste of time because they do nothing to
advance the position of Negroes in America.

Also your example of the APSL is wrong. It is recognized by both by FSF
and OSI as free software. Specifically the GNU site says
> The Apple Public Source License (APSL) version 2.0 qualifies as a free
> software license.

> And yes, the OSS movement convinced many companies that making their
> code open source is beneficial to them. Which is a great thing to have,
> but doesn't negate everything else.
Meaning it doesn't negate somebody's idea of what would be better than
what has been created so far by the real world free software effort.
> I'm not sure what you mean regarding a change from free software to open
> source, since 'free' never had the same boom as 'open'. 
'free' never had the same boom as 'open' because after 30 years it still
can't run a computer, Stallman's efforts have yet to produce a reliable
OS that can boot, much less "boom." Linux did that in the real world
with RMS carping and complaining [and not contributing] all the way.

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