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Re: What to call Guix

From: Jay Sulzberger
Subject: Re: What to call Guix
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2015 13:19:30 -0500 (EST)

On Sat, 24 Jan 2015, Bruno F??lix Rezende Ribeiro <address@hidden> wrote:

Em Sat, 24 Jan 2015 11:57:06 +0100
address@hidden (Ludovic Court??s) escreveu:

Olaf, this discussion is over.  With approval from RMS, the standalone
distribution is now called the ???Guix System Distribution???, a name that
happens to be consensual among contributors.

I feel sorry for the fact that a wonderful opportunity has been
missed, by the GNU project, of realizing the one true GNU operating

GNU is bigger than any one distribution.  Bigger even than any
operating system.  Even bigger than any family of operating



Unfortunately, GNU still stands as a concept of operating system but
is no operating system in particular.  Usually we use the number of
components of the conceptual GNU operating system, used by an actual
operating system, to judge whether or not it's a variant of GNU.  I
wonder, however, about the legitimacy of calling some concrete
operating system a variant of a non-concrete one.

It seems to me that saying that an operating system is a variant of
the GNU operating system is actually implying that there is one true
and pure GNU operating system.  Even so, people --- who say that ---
are afraid of dubbing an operating system that one GNU system, because
it could imply the others are not the GNU system.  To me, it's a
simply fact of logic (and life) that that has to happen, for the sake
of our own argument of variance and for the total accomplishment of
our original goal.  There is nothing wrong or strange about it.

I think there is an artificial mechanism in place to call everything
GNU without calling anything GNU.  Perhaps a hidden conflict of
interests... who knows?  What I actually know is that there is no
tangible GNU system and therefore, by definition, there are no
variants of it.  What actually exist are operating systems which use
several components developed by the GNU project; it's so simple as

It's ironic how that is the first impression uninformed people have
when they come across "Linux" distributions and consider their
relationship with the GNU project.  After a while, informing
themselves, some come across the idea that those are in fact
"GNU+Linux" distributions, and a minor part of these accept and
internalize the concept that those are variants of the GNU operating
system.  I was one of those.  It turned out however that the truth is
halfway that conclusion.  Of course, it's not legitimate to call an
operating system by "Linux", because a kernel is not an operating
system nor important enough to name one; on the other hand it's not
legitimate to call those systems "GNU", because they simply are not put
together nor dubbed that way by the GNU project; we could call those
"variants of the GNU operating system", if not for the fact that there
is no GNU operating system from which derivations can be built.

To be honest with ourselves, others and the truth, we generally should
call them "operating systems using the kernel Linux and several
components developed by the GNU project".  Further that point we need
to be more specific.  Better to call them by the distribution name:
that's naturally the more precise definition.  Unfortunately, we miss
the opportunity to point out to people the GNU project's philosophy.

To me that scenario is very sad.  I wish it were different, but my
wishes don't make the reality.  I can't help but to confess that I've
learned to think that "there is no system but GNU", but now, thinking
for myself in a informed position, I'm willing to reconsider and
conclude: "there are systems, but GNU".

,= ,-_-. =.  Bruno F??lix Rezende Ribeiro (oitofelix) [0x28D618AF]
((_/)o o(\_)) There is no system but GNU;
`-'(. .)`-'  GNU Linux-libre is one of its official kernels;
    \_/      All software should be free as in freedom;

[GNU DISCLAIMER] I'm a GNU hacker, but my views don't necessarily
match those of the GNU project.  Hereby I express my own opinion,
style and perception, in good faith, aiming the betterment of GNU.

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