An Open Letter to Richard Stallman

Dear RMS,

A few days ago Guillermo Garron wrote a piece on his website after seeing you speak live. A link to that article was posted at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where a discussion ensued. During the course of that conversation, I thought that maybe it was about time that we started using a less bulky nomenclature for the GNU/Linux operating system. I posted a few suggestions, but I think I like GNix the best.

A worthy contraction of terms, I think. While I’ve always tried to refer to my favorite operating system as GNU/Linux in my public articles and other posts around the Internet, I often lapse into the shorthand version of “Linux” that is commonly misused by most everyone else in this community; mostly because of the bulkiness of GNU/Linux.

No Windows fans, that I know of, go around calling their operating system Microsoft Windows whatever version. They just call it “Windows”, usually. They know it’s Microsoft. They’re just lazy, as are most of us in the GNU/Linux community of users. So, my thoughts are let’s call it GNix (pronounced g’nicks).

I doubt Linus would mind. He might like it, too. You never know. A marriage of the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system should have a worthy moniker. Maybe now is that time for it to be.

I’m running Slackware GNix as my primary OS on all my machines, but I also have Debian GNix and Fedora GNix installed as testers. Hmm… that rolls off the keypad pretty nicely, I think. πŸ™‚




42 Comments on “An Open Letter to Richard Stallman”

  1. comhack says:

    Excellent!!! Shared to Google+.

  2. ggarron says:

    I shared in G+ and Twitter too.
    And also posted it on LinuxToday and LXer. I really hope Susan may see it.

    • Susan is usually pretty consistent about picking up my articles here. Tux Machines would definitely ramp up the coverage. Heck, RMS himself might stop by and comment. I’d be honored, were that the case. πŸ™‚

      • RMS doesn’t browse the web through conventional means, as such it would be very difficult if not impossible for him to comment about this directly on the site. I suggest you forward this article’s URL to him via e-mail if you want his opinion.

    • GNix User says:

      ..and Lxer bring me here. This looks like a win-win solution. But is it easy to replace all Gnu/Linux strings from source code?

  3. ichase70 says:

    This just might put you on the BIGGER map Eric. You never know, RMS just might like it πŸ™‚

    Ian (Arch GNix user) πŸ™‚

  4. I’d rather the Free Software Foundation settle on Linux-libre as GNU’s official kernel. That way there wouldn’t be any need for a new name for GNU/Linux, it’d just be “GNU” like it was supposed to be so many years ago.

    But more to the point. Neither the FSF nor Linus are willing to compromise on the naming of GNU/Linux, as demonstrated on various mailing lists hundreds of times over the years. Linus is too stubborn to even give GNU proper credit.

  5. Geoff Goas says:

    Problem is RMS would never go for that because then its no longer a recursive acronym, and that’s his whole dorky reason for calling it Gnu in the first place.

  6. chekkizhar says:

    hmm, buddy, I afraid, in this your concept , I am deviated from your thoughts. Linus has a very valid reason for the term “GNU/Linux” as “Linux” alone. But, nerve mind buddy. This one, emac vs vim, and so on, will never end.

    BTW, I like the picture. Where do u get that?

  7. Mr E says:

    GNix looks like NGinX
    so, I preffer something like
    “LiGNUx” (this looks good)

    ::: Registered today 2013.04.18 for the world :::

  8. […] An Open Letter to Richard Stallman, proposing to name the GNU/Linux just GNix, to make it easier to say, and to write. Instead of the long GNU/Linux or the plain Linux where GNU gets no credit. …Read More […]

  9. Richard. says:

    O goody, at last
    An alternative to Windows or Mac
    And I don’t have to feel bad,
    I can say gnix.

  10. […] Dear RMS, A few days ago Guillermo Garron wrote a piece on his website after seeing you speak live. A link to that article was posted at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where a discussion ensued.  […]

  11. Barnabyh says:

    Personally, I’m in favour of GLux. Rolls off the tongue and sounds like a good drink. It would also allude to user groups as one of the oldest bases of the community.

  12. Thanks to all for the comments. πŸ™‚


  13. Great Idea, and hopefully if adopted by FSF and Linux Torvalds will excite the community and promote greater adoption.

  14. Michael says:

    I think Linux is convenient, short and some kind easy to pronounce name.
    So, guys don’t confuse people with weird names. Remember, people don’t like long and complicated names.

  15. Hunkah says:

    My problem with this whole thing is RMS preaches that software is free. Shared freely by all without limitations. Freely copied, used, shared… well except if you copy his software! Then you have to stick his big fat name in all caps in front of it!

    I think RMS would be so much further ahead had he just stopped with the whole GNU/Linux crap and supported “Linux”. Then he would be seen as a Saint, instead of a little child that lost his soother. Some of his comments have been right rude to Linus.

    The truth is, no one wants to follow him. He is seen as a nut-job. He is dirty, unshaven, sloppy and prides himself on it. No one wants to follow something where the lead man looks like a cocaine addict or a freak.

    Linus however, IS clean. The boy looks great no matter what the time of day. He is smart, cocky, quick to quip, and usually friggin hilarious with his comebacks. People want to follow someone like that.

    I see their relationship sort of like John the Baptist vs. Jesus. Both were needed, just one got all the glory while the other did some heavy lifting.

    Speaking of which, RMS is needed in this world. Someone needs to be going to the Governments working hard in the background, kicking down barriers and introducing people to the freedoms that can be won with free software. RMS is awesome in this role.

    So, I’m all for calling GNU and Linux (Not the same thing so the slash is wrong) just plain Linux, because that is what I’m using. Linux is an operating system. It uses GNU in it. But as Linus did what RMS couldn’t, so therefore Linux is my OS.

    I give all respect to RMS for what he does, but I will NOT give him the respect of what he didn’t do. Linus gets that credit.

    GNU/Linux is dead, long live Linux.

    • Well, I just can’t let these comments go by without a small comment of my own.

      It’s sad that we continue to judge one another by our looks and manner of dress. The old saying that you can’t always judge a book by its cover is very, very true. I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life in and around the biker community. Yes, that biker community… you know, the leather-wearing, tattooed, loud motorcycles types. In that community, we’ve learned to not judge someone based on their looks. We have clean-cut bikers. We have slob bikers, We have black, white, oriental, middle-Eastern, Russian, European, etc. bikers. What we all have in common in that community is that we all ride and love motorcycles.

      I won’t preach to you regarding your opinions, They are yours to have and hold, of course. I will say this, though. If we all learn to focus on the things we have in common and try to be more tolerant of our differences, the world would be a much better place.



  16. Well, it seems I’ve spurred conversation and sharing of opinions. COOL! That’s what community is all about.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!


  17. megatotoro says:

    That’s an interesting idea, Eric. I’ve also said simply “Linux” instead of “GNU/Linux” but, unlike you, I hadn’t found a solution. Cheers!

  18. ggarron says:


    I’ve sent it via email to RMS and got a reply.

    He says that it is ok with him.

    “Give it a try if you wish, and see if it catches on. Β If other people
    like it, I won’t argue against it.

    I prefer “GNU/Linux” because it is explicit: everyone can see “GNU”
    and “Linux” in it.

    I don’t think it needs to be any shorter. Β I don’t think it is too
    long, and I don’t believe anyone really rejects it because of its
    length. Β “Raspberry pi” is the same number of syllables as “GNU/Linux”
    (if you pronouce “slash”), and 3 more characters, but nobody seems to
    object that “raspberry pi” is too long.

    I think the people who say “GNU/Linux” is too long are really feeling
    something different.”

    I think he is right about it not being too long.

    I think is time for an open letter to Linus πŸ™‚

    • Very COOL, Guillermo!

      I doubt that it will catch on. It was an interesting way to stimulate some conversation, though. It’s difficult to get three or more people to agree that the sky is blue. But hey… I think it’s great the Dr. Stallman replied to your email. And I can understand why he sees nothing wrong with GNU/Linux and doesn’t want to see it changed. I wouldn’t want anyone to come by and rename my blog Insomniac Rantings v1.0 either. πŸ˜‰



      • chekkizhar says:

        well, getting a reply from RMS is great. Well, Eric buddy, you simulated the spark in more people. Well done. IMO, if RMS agrees to call as simly “Linux”, or Linus agrees to call as “GNU/Linux” , it wont be simply accepted in the IT world. Again lot of discussions will get fire up. πŸ™‚

      • ggarron says:

        “Insomniac Rantings v1.0” Wow talking about long names. πŸ™‚

    • Josh Sabboth says:

      Excellent that you got a response from RMS!! It would be really cool if it caught on… πŸ™‚

  19. ggarron says:

    Reblogged this on Ggarron's Blog and commented:
    Good idea

  20. Josh Sabboth says:

    That is so cool that you mentioned our forum, BATL, to RMS. Maybe I will see him registering soon….. πŸ™‚

  21. notzed says:

    GNix? Oh dear.

  22. Toe Jam says:

    GUX Sounds much better and much more powerful!

    Imagine a free userland, a complete shit list of software that bends to freedom. No more open source pitchforks, oh what a wonderful world.

  23. E-L says:

    The comparison to users of Microsoft Windows version whatever is not compelling precisely for the reason the FSF will continue to insist on the current convention. Namely, that “Linux” requires the preceding “GNU” in order to remind and preserve the origin of the operating system as being built from GNU software. To change this for sake of your convenience is, with all due respect, a seemingly self-serving proposal. Principle is not contingent on comfort, convenience or preference. It appears that the principle the convention is founded on has been disregarded which, in itself, speaks to the unlikelihood of your argument being persuasive. However, I may need to understand the context better if I’ve misunderstood your post.

    • The article was about 75% tongue-in-cheek (facetiousness). I never had any illusions that my suggestions would start any worldwide upheaval in the geek community. In reality, GNU/Linux will most likely continue to be shortened to just Linux by most.

      Thank you for your cogent comments. πŸ™‚


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