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4713Re: [Fwd: Re: [TwinCLinG] meeting] Straight from the Horses mouth

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  • Suresh Ramasubramanian
    Aug 1, 2001
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      *[Richard Stallman on Tue, Jul 31, 2001 at 12:12:01PM -0600]:
      > [Since I can't send mail to the list, would one of you please forward this?]

      I see Goswami has already forwarded your mail. So I'll just reply
      instead of quoting your entire mail - to save bandwidth :)

      > All the "Linux distros" are really GNU/Linux distros, because they are
      > versions of the GNU/Linux system. Red Hat is definitely a version of
      > GNU/Linux. So is SuSE.

      Thanks for the clarification. My point was that several linuxen have
      taken an identity which does have a strong GNU base, but is unique in
      itself to have a separate identity. Somewhat like a teacher and his
      students, or maybe a father and his children.

      > It would not shut out anyone who feels included now, because
      > practically speaking every "Linux" system is a GNU/Linux system.
      > The Red Hat and SuSE distros both include non-free software. In fact,
      > all the commercial distros include non-free software. The inclusion
      > of non-free software in GNU/Linux distros is a serious problem,

      Which was what I was concerned about too.

      > because it encourages the community to reject freedom as a major
      > value. The question is how the GNU Project should deal with this
      > situation. I see two possibilities:
      > 1. Say, "Because you have put non-free software in our system, we
      > don't want to be associated with you. So don't call it GNU."

      It is not that way at all. Most - if not all - of us use GPL'd or
      other open sourced licenses when possible, and where such alternatives
      exist, despite the fact that someone's offering a commercial product
      for a much higher cost. Any code we release / howtos we write etc are
      also released under such licenses.

      > 2. Say, "You have put non-free software in our system, and that is
      > bad, but we still want people to know that you started with our
      > system. So do call it GNU."

      Linux (in the end-user sense of "a linux distro") has become a slightly
      more amorphous term than what GNU stands for - and GNU has retained its
      identity quite well :)

      > You seem to have in mind #1, but #2 is a wiser strategy, because it
      > gives us a way to influence the users on the issue of freedom. If we
      > did #1, we would have no influence on what happens in the community.
      > We would be saying "Oh horrors!" but nobody would listen.
      > We want all the users to know that Red Hat, SuSE, etc. are versions of
      > the GNU system. Then some users will realize that the inclusion of
      > non-free software is contrary to the spirit of GNU. Then some of them
      > may decide to do something about the situation.

      I don't see that happening in the very near future (especially the part
      about de-integrating non-free software from most distros, some of which
      are actually _increasing_ the emphasis on non-free software).

      As I said, we all know about the GPL, and we all use it, as far as
      possible, and then encourage people to shift to GNU/GPL'd software from
      proprietory alternatives (read: billware, most of the time <g>).
      However, we are far from being a GNU/LUG right now :)

      > Putting GNU in the name of your group will help with this effort.
      > This won't reject any of your members, but you will start gradually
      > steering them and the public in a different direction.

      Which we are already doing, as a matter of fact. However, as linux is
      linux, and has definitely gained a separate identity from its GNU
      roots, I would (respectfully) disagree with you on this matter.


      Suresh Ramasubramanian + suresh (@) kcircle.com
      Friday@... + http://www.kcircle.com
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