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Re: Re: Re: Which packages should I use?



> If Debian, Mandrake and RedHat are operating systems, then
Apache,
> OpenOffice, Mozilla, etc are all typical OS components.

I'm taking what they say from their web pages; for example:

Debian is a free operating system (OS) for your computer.
-- www.debian.org

Mandrake LinuxTM  is a friendly Linux Operating System....
-- http://www.linux-mandrake.com/en/
 
> > Given that each terminology makes sense in the context in
> > which it is said, isn't it fair for everyone to use the term
> > that best fits their point-of-view?
> 
> Yes, but if everyone had a different concept of every
> word there'd be no way to understand each other. This
> is why languages are formalised. And there's a formal
> definition of the word "operating". If you think the
> Hurd or Mach are operating systems, then we need to
> find another word to define what FreeBSD, Solaris or
> GNU are.

Not if one believes in layering operating systems on top of
one another. Mach is an operating system that sits on top of
hardware. Hurd is an operating system that sits on top of
Mach. The JVM is an operating system that sits on top of
Windows/Linux/Solaris/whatever else it's been ported to. If
you look at academic papers on operating systems, I believe
this is the terminology they use (at least, it's the
terminology I've seen). FreeBSD and Solaris are operating
systems that sit on top of hardware; they just provide more
functionality than Mach.

My point is that, from a technical perspective, and
operating system manages resources and provides an API. But
that definition is only suited to a programmer. Regular
users use the terminology fed to them by marketing
departments; hence an "operating system", from a user's
point of view, is "the thing that runs my computer and lets
me install and run my programs." So, to a user, several
application programs are part of the operating system. Hence
"Debian is a free operating system..." -- as far as a user
is concerned, it is.

And I don't think our understanding of each other is
imparied by any ambiguity in the meaning of the term
"operating system". If Frank says "my Linux box" and Harry
says "my GNU/Linux box", I assume they're both using the
Linux kernel along with the GNU tools, and probably X,
possibly Apache, OpenOffice, Mozilla, etc.

And these little ambiguities in laguage exist in many areas.
For example, a fundamentalist will likely object to
referring to Mormons/Jehovah's Witnesses/Jesus Seminar as
"Christians." More liberal types likely will not. We just
expect that the word means something different when it's
used by Jerry Falwell than when it's used by John Shelby Spong.

-- Tom Hart


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