Re: GNU/Linux

Jim Gettys (
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 08:10:46 -0700

> Sender:
> From: Richard Stallman <>
> Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 14:59:27 -0500
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: GNU/Linux
> -----
> AFAIK, Linux is the *first* OS that started out as a kernel only. All
> of the userland was added.
> What you're calling "userland" is practically the whole operating
> system--and it happens to be the GNU operating system. Linux, the
> kernel, came last, not first. The GNU Project began the development
> of this system, years before the first line of Linux was written.

I think you'd find many who would dispute the claim that "userland"
is dominated by GNU software.

And part of Linux (and I'm happy to be part of Linux), is the X Window
System, which started in 1984. It was never part of GNU.

And part of Linux is Sendmail, which started even earlier than X.

And part of Linux is Bind, which started even earlier than X.

So lots of significant components predate (and postdate) GNU.

Apache started more recently; it was not part of GNU.

Many other major components come from all over; arguably they are what
is driving Linux's acceptance as much as anything GNU OR the Linux kernel
did. (Note that I believe that right now it is Internet services driving
Linux acceptance; not the X Window System).

There are lots of people on this bus; I don't hear a clamor of support
that GNU is more essential than many of the other components; can't
take a wheel away, and end up with a functional vehicle, or an engine,
or the seats. I recommend you be happy we have a bus.
- Jim Gettys

Jim Gettys
Industry Standards and Consortia
Compaq Computer Corporation
Visting Scientist, World Wide Web Consortium, M.I.T.,

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