At this moment, I'm in two discussions trying to show people that referring as Linux to the combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel Linux is morally wrong, even though there's no juridic impediment to it.
There are many texts at the GNU project web site about this:
http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html http://www.gnu.org/gnu/why-gnu-linux.html http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-users-never-heard-of-gnu.html http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html
I claim that referring to GNU+Linux as Linux is either ignorance or bad faith.
In one of the discussions, in the Software Libre Venezuela mailing list, someone found it funny that I stated that GNU was bigger than Linux. Nothing better than numbers for such cases (from yesterday's Fedora development tree):
39283506 gcc-4.1.2-12.src.rpm 37911223 emacs-22.0.95-1.fc7.src.rpm 15861929 glibc-2.6-1.src.rpm 14745476 gdb-6.6-8.fc7.src.rpm 12807525 binutils-188.8.131.52.12-4.src.rpm 5482705 coreutils-6.9-2.fc7.src.rpm 4785153 bash-3.2-9.fc7.src.rpm 2946233 libtool-1.5.22-11.fc7.src.rpm 1785466 gawk-3.1.5-15.fc7.src.rpm 1116290 findutils-4.2.29-2.src.rpm 1058365 autoconf-2.61-8.fc7.src.rpm 910947 automake-1.10-5.src.rpm 874105 sed-4.1.5-7.fc7.src.rpm 139568923 **partial** GNU operating system 46845975 kernel-2.6.21-1.3163.fc7.src.rpm
On PSL-Brasil, I used an extreme tactic against the argument that anyone is free to choose however to name it: I made offensive insinuations about the other party's name, and it ended up referring to his mother as well. He (naturally) felt offended. It worked! I responded:
So... Moderators got in touch with me an pointed out that I hit it hard, so I feel I must start out with a major apology.
I disrespected you, and, worse, I did so on purpose, and I offeded your mother, even if I didn't mean to, since I didn't know the origin of your B. initial.
I had no right to do this. I ask for your understanding for my deviation from good behavior, which I'll try to justify below.
It is evident that freedom to choose how to call others isn't absolute. It goes only as far as whoever is being referred by the chosen name, and others who care for him, find it respectful and non-offensive.
Claiming freedom to choose any name to anything, without taking into account what others may find offensive or disrespectful, even those closer to the referred person or thing, is not morally correct, as we've just witnessed.
Whoever does this pushes the limits, like I did. And I knew I was doing so. I did it to show that it's easy to argue that pepper in others' eyes is just eyewash, but when it's on your eyes and it hurts, then it's bad.
Now I ask you to understand that GNU is the child that RMS never had. GNU was created with the purposes of offering people the possibility to use computers in freedom, and of educating them to avoid having these freedoms restrained.
When Linux appeared and completed the GNU operating system, it accomplished the first objective. However, as the combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel Linux became known as Linux, achieving the second goal became more difficult.
This is because Linux does not share the philosophy, the moral strength of GNU. Compare "Free as in Freedom" with "Just for fun".
As you refrain from drawing attention to the GNU name, and you convey the impression that Linus started it all (a consequence of calling it all Linux), the ideology prevails that "I have no ideology", of "Just for fun", rather than "freedom for the people".
And so, more and more people get to use GNU project's software without learning where it comes from and why, and to promote an ideology against that of Free Software: the one for libertarianism, rather than for freedom. Then, ironic situations occur, such as the one depicted in the movie Revolution OS:
Richard M. Stallman: So, very ironic things have happened, but nothing to match this. Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is sort of like giving the Han Solo Award to the rebel fleet.
It doesn't matter how many people call a child by an offensive nickname. If she or others who care for her feel uncomfortable about this, you, as soon as you find out about this discomfort, has a moral obligation to not be part of this verbal lynching group.
GNU is RMS's child. RMS asks his child to be called by the name he chose, not for another. Linux is not RMS's child. Linux is Linus's child. The two together have a bright future. But calling the duo by the name of one of them is like referring to the dynamic duo as Robin.
If you agree with me and Carlos that I offended him and disrespected him and his mother, when I made fun of their names, and that I had no right to do this, be consistent and don't call GNU+Linux just Linux. GNU's father finds it disrespectful and offensive. When it's not ignorance (it can be in several levels), it is bad faith, indeed.
I hope you could understand the reasoning behind my intentional excess, and I thank the moderators for getting in touch and for giving me an opportunity to clear things up.
This applies to you as well!