I’m not a fan of using additional syllables where they’re not needed. I’m sick and bleeping tired of twits who insist I call every Linux distro “GNU/Linux.” Not every Linux distro uses GNU utilities. And many users’ experiences center on X, KDE, and other parts in userland that aren’t GNU or even GPL’ed.
I think one of the reasons people like Richard Stallman are so insistent on this point is to cover up the shortcomings of the GNU part. GNU is Not Unix — not by a mile. GNU is Not Usable, too. GNU is also not an operating system. It’s a half-assed, half-finished implementation that’s been hamstrung by the very people who insist on inserting “GNU” before Linux. Rather than embracing “free” software that already existed, Stallman, et al, chose to reinvent the wheel. They haven’t gotten very far and instead have wasted a lot of time in pissing matches about freedom and issues that are unrelated to free software (e.g., anti-DRM measures which are content- or data-centric rather than related to software, per se). Were it not for Linus Torvalds and his kernel, GNU would be even less Unix and usable and useful than it is now.
Some words take on meanings that are either broad or narrow. In the narrow sense, Linux is a kernel. In a broad sense, though, it encompasses a lot more than that — the broader ecosystem transmitted in the form of a distribution. In a way it’s analogous to trademarked names that become increasingly generic because of prevalence and familiarity. I know I’ve been given plenty of “xerox copies” from non-Xerox printers. I think Linux is like that and can be safely and accurately used in a broader sense to encompass not just the kernel but the full system of any given distro.
As I noted above, most users don’t experience the kernel or GNU utilities directly but rather through interfaces that are definitely not GNU. Without X, without desktop environments like KDE or window managers like enlightenment, Linux adoption would be even less than it is now (especially on desktops). But we don’t hear the X or KDE people insisting that it be called X/KDE/GNU/Linux. Thank goodness.
Moreover, not every distro uses the GNU utilities. Some use busybox to replace GNU utilities and leave out a toolchain, but they still most definitely use the Linux kernel. This is where the arrogance of the FSF types and GNU/kooks prevails and cons developers into calling it GNU/Linux despite the lack of a GNU toolchain or utilities. I’m singling out Slitaz for using “GNU/Linux” when they’re really just Linux. Or busybox/Linux (which is even dumber than prepending GNU). How much GNU software is in Slitaz’ base? X isn’t GNU software. Neither is jwm or Xfce. Nor openbox. X isn’t even under the freaking GPL.
If it’s not GNU, why the stupid blanket insistence by the GNUtards that it be called what it isn’t? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
So this got me to thinking about how much of the GNU bloatware I might be able to replace. I already ditched bash for the free-er and more nimble ksh — mksh to be precise. I considered the Linux port of OpenBSD’s ksh but the guy who ported it reflexively slapped GPL on it. I really hate that kind of thing but that’s an article for another day.
My latest de-GNU’ing came last week when I installed libarchive (from FreeBSD) and symlinked bsdtar and bsdcpio to be my de facto tar and cpio. I also added OpenBSD’s pax (with Debian’s patch). Can never have too many archiving utilities, especially when considering replacing one operating system (or one distro) with a better one.
I know I’m mostly stuck with GCC, which is unfortunate because it typifies the kitchen-sink bloat mentality of the GNU types. And there are some things like screen that I know I’ll continue to use whether it’s GNU or not — but that’s separate from the base utilities. I’m looking for more anti-GNU replacements for this just to see how little GNU I can have in my Linux. That way I can correct any lamer GNUtard who stupidly tries to correct me when I intentionally and willfully — and quite happily — leave GNU off Linux.