Since I just posted a link to a “Stallman & GPL for Dummies” video on Stallman and the FSF, I’ll mention there’s a movie called Revolution OS. It attempts to provide a balanced view of the entire movement from it’s inception to its development as a business model, and fork –the Open Source movement.
I’d seen clips from this movie but never its entirety.
In passing, it lightly touches upon differing views of what constitutes an operating system (OS). Is it a kernel —Torvalds’ view– or is it mainly made up of userland programs in which the kernel is only another program –such as what Stallman thinks. The movie doesn’t provide an answer. Incredibly, Torvalds –as per his explanation as to what constitutes an operating system —doesn’t consider applications as part of an operating system; But this simply reinforces my take on Torvalds’ semantics. What would Apple’s (or Windows’) operating systems be without their apps and GUI system? Would an OS still be an OS without user applications (as in the most directly user related banal utilities such as browsers, word processors, etc)? A system without these apps is not an OS. Not in the modern understanding the term, OS; No, I don’t think so. In this respect, I think Torvalds is wrong in calling Linux an OS. But that doesn’t mean I’m sure Stallman is accurate with his insistence concerning adding the “Gnu” prefix to “Linux” (a topic for another article).
Interestingly, the movie presents the term “Open Source” as a marketing scheme to avoid connotations of “Free Software” being “cheap and lousy” and “not being financially viable”. This differs from Stallman pointing out that discrepancies between the two groups are primarily philosophical (which is also alluded therein).
Other oddities I found are that Torvalds describes himself in full agreement with GPL, as does Bruce Perens (the writer of the Open Source Definition); Often, both these Gnu-linux based groups are represented as being at odds. Despite that they owe everything to Stallman (eventually, a Gnu kernel would have been finished had Linux not come around), there’s plenty of Linux coders that do not like Stallman and are vocal on the matter. I’ve personally come across a few extremist Open Source “zealots” (and FBSD ones too) while studying comparative literature at the University of Alberta (specifically at LSD). In fact, “we” considered ousting these people –due to their counter-productiveness and obnoxious behavior– by reforming LSD to a clearly defined Free Software group (if they only knew), but small numbers prohibited us and I’m diverging.
Revolution OS was a great movie to watch, informative, highlighting important spots in the development of Gnu-linux, and very watchable by the layman.
PS-I don’t have anything against BSD folks in favour of the Free Software movement (other than the detail of ideology), just obnoxious comportment. I’m not all that tied to Linux proper either as the more I read about micro-kernels, the more I think we’re wasting our time with dinosaur, insecure, and relatively unstable monolithic models, be they BSD or Linux based –although the consensus is that Gnu-linuxes and BSDs are much more stable and secure than any commercial product. But that’s also material for another article.
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