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Re: GNU within the name (Was: Changes in formal naming for NetBSD porting effort(s))

On Thu, Dec 18, 2003 at 12:06:56PM +0000, viro@parcelfarce.linux.theplanet.co.uk wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 18, 2003 at 12:56:15PM +0100, Julian Mehnle wrote:
> > viro@www.linux.org.uk wrote:
> > > If we ever get a replacement libc that would really work as
> > > replacement... on such system GNU claims would become much weaker.
> > > Not that there was a serious chance of that happening - drop-in
> > > replacement of glibc on Linux would be a lot of work and so far none
> > > of the alternative libc projects had tried to pull that off.
> >
> > Why would anyone want to replace GLIBC in the first place? To get rid
> > of "GNU" in "GNU/Linux"?
> glibc has its problems and alternative libc implementations do exist
> (mostly for embedded use), but AFAIK none of them tries to become a
> full-blown thing.
> As for the reasons why somebody would do such replacement... Beats me
> - ask the guy who'd brought that up. IMO it's very unlikely, to put it
> mildly.

The impression (and, frankly, not an entirely clear one) I have gotton
from RMS's various comments on the naming, especially in regards to
NetBSD, boil down to the following (modulo probably screwing up the
capitalization, which I can never remember the rules for, and I do
apologize ahead of time):

"GNU represents the Gnu system, running with a native (Hurd) kernel"

"GNU/Linux is the Gnu system, using Linux as a kernel"

What isn't entirely clear to me, here, is just how much composes "the Gnu
system". It seems fairly clear to me that Robert Millan's work (which is
Debian's normal core userland, GNU-based, plus GNU libc) is more or less
identical to Debian's normal situation, but with a NetBSD kernel instead
of Linux. Therefore, I'm fairly certain it could be called "GNU/NetBSD"
(or, to make the NetBSD folks happier, "GNU/KNetBSD") and be precisely as
accurate as "GNU/Linux".

My porting work, however, uses the native NetBSD libc (and libm, and more
or less everything coming from that particular part of the source tree). It
still uses a primarily GNU-based userland (GNU coreutils instead of NetBSD
cat, ls, etc; GNU compiler; GNU tar instead of NetBSD tar or pax; etc). To
date, we had used "GNU/NetBSD" simply because it wasn't considered to be
worth having the argument over, and we were still using quite a lot of GNU
stuff, so figured it wasn't unreasonable to give them due credit (and that
if RMS objected, saying it wasn't "the Gnu system", well, we'd be quite
happy to drop the "GNU/" bit, of course...)

None of this really applies to changing the Linux ports away from glibc,
of course. But such a topic doesn't really belong on debian-bsd, anyway.
Joel Baker <fenton@debian.org>                                        ,''`.
Debian GNU/NetBSD(i386) porter                                       : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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