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Originally Posted by http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html#unix
Since much of GNU comes from Unix, shouldn't GNU give credit to Unix by using “Unix” in its name?
Actually, none of GNU comes from Unix. Unix was proprietary software (and still is), so using any of its code in GNU would have been illegal. This is not a coincidence; this is why we developed GNU: since you could not have freedom in using Unix, or any of the other operating systems of the day, we needed a free system to replace it. We could not copy programs, or even parts of them, from Unix; everything had to be written afresh.
No code in GNU comes from Unix, but GNU is a Unix-compatible system; therefore, many of the ideas and specifications of GNU do come from Unix. The name “GNU”, which stands for “GNU's Not Unix”, is a humorous way of giving credit to Unix for this, following a hacker tradition of recursive acronyms that started in the 70s.
The first such recursive acronym was TINT, “TINT Is Not TECO”. The author of TINT wrote another implementation of TECO (there were already many of them, for various systems), but instead of calling it by a dull name like “somethingorother TECO”, he thought of a clever amusing name. (That's what hacking means: playful cleverness.)
Other hackers enjoyed that name so much that we imitated the approach. It became a tradition that, when you were writing from scratch a program that was similar to some existing program (let's imagine its name was “Klever”), you could give it a recursive acronym name, such as “MINK” for “MINK Is Not Klever.” In this same spirit we called our replacement for Unix “GNU's Not Unix”.
Historically, AT&T which developed Unix did not want anyone to give it credit by using “Unix” in the name of a similar system, not even in a system 99% copied from Unix. AT&T actually threatened to sue anyone giving AT&T credit in that way. This is why each of the various modified versions of Unix (all proprietary, like Unix) had a completely different name that didn't include “Unix”.
Originally Posted by gautamshaw
what is the relation between gnu and linux?
Originally Posted by http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html#why
Why do you call it GNU/Linux and not Linux?
Most operating system distributions based on Linux as kernel are basically modified versions of the GNU operating system. We began developing GNU in 1984, years before Linus Torvalds started to write his kernel. Our goal was to develop a complete free operating system. Of course, we did not develop all the parts ourselves—but we led the way. We developed most of the central components, forming the largest single contribution to the whole system. The basic vision was ours too.
In fairness, we ought to get at least equal mention.
To become fully enlightened, I highly recommend reading the FAQ in its entirety, as well as the many other valuable articles on the site.
Last edited by Telengard; 06-23-2009 at 01:40 PM.
Reason: fix incorrect url
This is the original announcement of the GNU Project, written by Richard Stallman on September 27th 1983.
The history of the GNU Project is in many ways different from this initial plan. For example, the beginning was delayed until January, 1984 and several of the details about free software had not yet been clarified.
Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free(1) to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed.
To begin with, GNU will be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to write and run C programs: editor, shell, C compiler, linker, assembler, and a few other things. After this we will add a text formatter, a YACC, an Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of other things. We hope to supply, eventually, everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system, and anything else useful, including on-line and hardcopy documentation.
GNU will be able to run Unix programs, but will not be identical to Unix. We will make all improvements that are convenient, based on our experience with other operating systems. In particular, we plan to have longer filenames, file version numbers, a crashproof file system, filename completion perhaps, terminal-independent display support, and eventually a Lisp-based window system through which several Lisp programs and ordinary Unix programs can share a screen. Both C and Lisp will be available as system programming languages. We will have network software based on MIT's chaosnet protocol, far superior to UUCP. We may also have something compatible with UUCP.