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Re: Guix != GNU GSD ==> True

From: Brandon Invergo
Subject: Re: Guix != GNU GSD ==> True
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:22:02 +0000

I recognize that the Guix / GSD naming matter is settled, but some
extra, more general thoughts, prompted by this:

On Wed, 2015-01-28 at 11:50 +0100, Taylan Ulrich Bayırlı/Kammer wrote:

> We really need a break from, or almost a fight against, this whole
> "distro" culture

More practically, perhaps we should push a more accurate term than
"distribution".  Setting aside what this word has come to mean today,
when I think of "software distribution", I think of simply a collection
of software packages that one can install (e.g. a bunch of independent
software archives distributed on a fact, I guess this could
fairly well describe the first distros).  In this sense of the word, the
GNU Source Release Collection (GSRC) is more accurately described as a
software distribution: it consists of a means to easily install a
variety of GNU software packages.  GSD, Parabola, etc offer more than
that, so calling them "distributions" does them a disservice.

What we call software distributions today encompass a lot more than just
the collection of software that they offer.  In particular, this
includes all of the configuration, init scripts, package management
tools, and other glue that tie it all together.  The "GNU System", on
the other hand, is a bit different and more general: it is the result of
the interactions between that software (a system is always more than the
sum of its parts), regardless of the specific configuration.  That's why
Trisquel, Parabola, GSD, et al. can all implement the GNU system, even
though the specific software packages (and versions), their
configuration and the "glue" that ties the software together are very
different: the overall pattern of interaction between the components is
the same, resulting in a recognizable system.

So, I would say that "distro" is not sufficient to describe what these
projects do, while the "system" is something else that they ultimately
implement in common.  This is why I previously suggested referring to
Guix (now GSD) as the "reference implementation of the GNU
system" (ignoring now the argument over "reference", please).  

I would suggest changing our terminology in general from "GNU/Linux
distro" to "GNU implementation" but it's feels a bit clunky to say.
"GNU variant" implies that one can find reference (which was resolutely
rejected).   "GNU version" just doesn't have a good ring to it.  I don't
know...Any other suggestions?  Or am I talking nonsense?


Brandon Invergo

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