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Who are the GNU Hackers?

As an extra event around FSCONS, I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of GNU hackers (part of the GNU Hacker Meeting, GHM). The GNU hackers are the people who maintain particular GNU packages, ranging from binutils to gcc to GNU Scheme to the new GNU PDF library. Cool folks all and neat to see them all in one room — and it illustrated for me that although I’m usually interested (from a technical perspective) in the desktop layer (e.g. KDE), there’s a huge stack underneath. That deeper software stack now has a face for me — up until now, somehow the “shared technology stack” underneath the Free Software desktop sort of stopped for me at X, HAL, DBus, Strigi. Let us not forget the bits underneath that make a GNU/Linux system run.

GHM Photo

(Click for full-size version, where you can see that my camera has focus problems with wide pictures under mediocre lighting conditions) From left to right, we find that I’m really bad with remembering names: ?, ?, Matthias Kirschner (FSFE), Jose Marchesi (GNU PDF), Simon Josefsson (GNU TLS, recipient of Nordic Free Software Award 2009), ?, Bruno Haible (gnulib), Alfred M. Szmidt (glibc), ?, Nacho Gonzalez (sysadmin), ?, Henrik Sandklef (FSFE), Brian Gough (FSFE), Alina Mierlus (FSFE), Andy Wingo (Guile), Werner Koch (gnupg), Karsten Gerloff (FSFE), Eelco Dolstra (nix), Paolo Bonzini (GNU Smalltalk), ?. Drop me a note with who’s who (the list of attendees is on the GHM page, also the gnuticias site).

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10 Responses to “Who are the GNU Hackers?”

  1. Raphael Says:

    Ade, can you check the photo link? I get a 404 error when I try to access it.

  2. Tommi.S Says:

    It is nice that people loves participating GNU software and develop better of that.

    But as nice it is, as sad it is still because people still spread the GNU/Linux propaganda. Spreading lies that Linux is a microkernel and not a operating system.

    We should be proud we have a Linux (kernel) operating system what allows us to run powerfull GNU development tool so we can have a powerfull GNU+Linux development platform (Linux OS + GNU development tools). And hopefully someday GNU people gets their own OS, the Hurd working so they can get their GNU OS working and stick with that so they do not need to spread lies with the name of the GNU/Linux.

    You all guys are doing great job but please, do not use GNU/Linux. It just makes you look more selfish and not as pure what GNU people should be!!

  3. adridg Says:

    Raphael (as representative of lots of 404 comments): yup. My bad. Fixed in the meantime.

  4. adridg Says:

    I hardly understand what you’re getting at. There’s a kernel – Linux. Or you could use the FreeBSD kernel, or the Solaris kernel. Then there’s userland. You could use a GNU userland (how *big* userland is depends on your use, but consider that a KDE desktop is a whole bunch of software built with GNU tools, together with GNU binutils and a GNU shell on a lower level). You could use a different userland, like the FreeBSD userland (which still contains GNU bash as an option). You can run GNU+Linux, or KDE+GNU+Linux, or KDE+nongnu+FreeBSD, or GNOME (hey, that’s a GNU project)+nongnu+Solaris — and a lot of other combinations as well. Heck, even nongnu-Linux is possible if you put some effort into it.

    So again: I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. if you use A and B, calling it “A and B” makes sense if you want to give credit to all the things you use. It’s certainly polite to do so. On the other hand, throwing out words like “propaganda” and “lies” isn’t (unless you can substantiate what constitutes a lie there).

  5. Tommi.S Says:


    “On the other hand, throwing out words like “propaganda” and “lies” isn’t (unless you can substantiate what constitutes a lie there).”

    As I said, there is no reason to call anything as GNU/Linux if not specificully speaking about development platform where development software comes from GNU and software being used as OS is the Linux kernel.

    GNU has less meaning to normal user than Linux has. The operating system is always more important for normal user than GNU tools. The OS like Linux (kernel) rules what hardware you can use on the computer and what software you can run on the system in the basic level. But even more important than Linux OS and GNU tools for normal user is the graphical user interface and GNU has nothing to do with it the used is KDE or any other than Gnome (what is part of GNU). GNU tries to take credit from the work what others has done to deliver a application programs like firefox, openoffice and KDE what are the software what user will use in first hand and what matters for the user.

    We can give the credit to Linux community building a complete Unix-like OS what works and and is available free from and to be distributed by anyone.

    We can give the credit to GNU for giving great development tools (compilers, system libraries etc).

    We can give the credit for RMS to starting a GNU project and reserving the free software (what was already before RMS, but free software was dying under pressure of companies!) by creating the copyleft license.

    We can give the credit for all different projects about their meaning, not just for GNU how GNU people likes always trying to push a “GNU/Linux OS” what does not exist, because the Linux kernel is the OS there. Same way as GNU people lies by calling Hurd as the kernel, even it is a OS what’s kernel is the GNU Mach.

    When we talk about OS’s, we talk about Linux (kernel), Hurd, SunOS, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonBSD, HP-UX, NT, Minix, XNU, PARAS and so on. When we talk about software systems, we talk about their names like Windows 7, Mac OSX, Ubuntu. But we do not pretend to say that Firefox is part of the OS and it executes it’s networking, filesystem and other OS functions, while it does not.

    Same way we should not pretend that reason to call software as GNU/something is if the software was compiled or developed using GNU software. That is like calling Firefox as GNU/Firefox or GNU/Windows Mediaplayer or why not straigh away GNU/Internet?

    The point just is that if we do not speak about development platform called GNU/Linux, we should not use that term. Especially not from the OS because none of the GNU software belongs to Linux OS. They should work out to get their own Hurd OS out first.

    It is sad that GNU has great things to be done in history and lots of things to protect and do in future. But all that gets under the GNU/Linux or GNU/something propaganda and people gets confused, misinformation and gives credit to GNU about stuff what it is not dereserving.

    just for my two cents.

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  8. Paolo Bonzini Says:

    With only one ? left (because the face is partially obscured):

    Luca Saiu (GNU epsilon), Sylvan Beuclair (Savannah), Matthias Kirschner (FSFE), Jose Marchesi (GNU PDF), Simon Josefsson (GNU TLS, recipient of Nordic Free Software Award 2009), Juan Pedro Bolivar Puente (GNUjump, Psychosynth), Bruno Haible (gnulib, GNU gettext), Alfred M. Szmidt (Hurd), Ludovic Courtes (Guile), Nacho Gonzalez (sysadmin), ?, Henrik Sandklef (FSFE), Brian Gough (FSFE), Alina Mierlus (FSFE), Andy Wingo (Guile), Werner Koch (gnupg), Karsten Gerloff (FSFE), Eelco Dolstra (nix), Paolo Bonzini (GNU Smalltalk, GNU sed), Carlos Garnacho (GTK, GNOME)

  9. adridg Says:

    Thanks Paolo! That is a great improvement.

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