that old GNU/Linux argument

Mikkel L. Ellertson mikkel at
Mon Jul 21 01:19:49 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jul 20, 2008, "Mikkel L. Ellertson" <mikkel at> wrote:
>> No - just that I think the argument is equivalent is like complaining
>> about someone calling a Mustang a car, instead of calling it a Ford
>> Mustang.
> We're not talking of a "is-a" relationship, but rather of a "part-of"
> relationship.
> How about calling a Mustang a tire?  That would be the correct
> parallel.  Because, you know, following the Linux-is-an-OS logic, the
> tires are pretty important, and the car really wouldn't run without
> them, and it's the last part you add to a car before it runs, so let's
> call it tire, even though there are more important parts of the car
> that took far more work to build, such as the motor.
I read it more as calling a Mustang a Goodyear/Mustang because it 
has Goodyear tires. But what I was commenting on was:

Fedora isn't Linux, it's a Linux distribution, but everyone calls 
all Linux distributions "Linux", so Fedora should be called "Linux" 
even though it isn't Linux?

When most people refer to Linux, they are talking about a Linux 
distribution. Yes, a Linux distribution is more then just the 
kernel, but it is the kernel that sets it apart from other system 
that may also use the same user-space programs. After all, the 
original GNU utility programs were not written for the Linux kernel. 
There were ported to it. As were programs like Sendmail and Bind. 
After all, its not like you couldn't build a Linux distribution 
without any GNU programs. (kcsh, busybox, etc.) But it is nice to 
have the GNU programs.

If I am understanding you correctly, you want people to only call 
the kernel Linux. But people are using Linux to describe the entire 
distribution that uses the Linux kernel. It would be interesting to 
compare how much of a typical Linux distribution is the Kernel, how 
much is the GNU package, and how much is from other sources. Just 
because something is released under the GPL license does not make it 
a GNU program. And not all the programs in a Linux distribution are 
released under the GPL...


   Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for thou art crunchy and taste good with Ketchup!

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