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GNU/Linux: The Name Game

I have been asked several times why I do not refer to Linux as “GNU/Linux,” or “the GNU/Linux operating system,” or some variation thereof. Most of you are well aware of the controversy around using the term “Linux,” but many people who have recently switched or are considering trying Ubuntu, or some other distribution of Linux, are likely confused already, and so this may require a bit of explanation. Wikipedia has a decent, concise article that explains the two sides to this argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU/Linux_naming_controversy

Here is my position on it: Though I am familiar with both sides, I do not choose to call Ubuntu (and other distros) “Linux” because I feel the GNU/Linux folks don’t have a leg to stand on. I do so because, quite simply, the target audience of my videos are newbies to Linux, or those who have never even tried it before. Linux is by far the most widely used and understood term.

I want to make things easier for them to understand, not more difficult. I feel that I am not doing anything wrong; when I choose to call Microsoft Windows Vista “Vista” I am not doing a disservice to Microsoft. Nor do I do a disservice to Canonical by calling Ubuntu “Ubuntu.” A great many people and groups have to come together to make any particular operating system, particularly community-created ones, and credit for success should go to each and every one of them.

I am not a political activist, I am simply someone pretty new to Linux who hopes to help people avoid some of the pitfalls I ran into when I first tried it. I have never claimed to be an expert, but I do feel that we can do even more to help users of other operating systems feel comfortable in trying Linux as their desktop O/S, and Ubuntu in particular.

I plan on making a new series of videos which show how easy Ubuntu is to work with – completely without the terminal. If just one person who was scared of Ubuntu because they thought that using the command line was required tries and likes Ubuntu because of the videos, I will feel like they are a success.

So, back to the point: Am I an evildoer who helps spread misinformation and avoids giving credit where credit is due by using “Linux,” or is it perfectly OK to do so – what do you guys think?

Photo courtesy of Alles-Schlumpf