Richard M. Stallman has been fighting for several decades (and still is) to convince the public to call the most famous free software ever created with its correct name: GNU+Linux. Most of the people out there insist in forgetting the GNU part.
THE DAWN OF FREE SOFTWARE
For the vast majority that has never heard anything about this dispute, the story is easily told. RMS started the whole “free software movement” back in 1983, by creating the GNU Project: a group of hackers devoted to writing a fully free alternative to the proprietary Unix operating system available by that time. They started from an editor (Emacs) and a Compiler (GCC, the Gnu C Compiler). As all IT people know, thou, an Operating System needs a kernel to be able to work.
A “STAR” IS BORN
By the year 1991, just eight years after the launch of the GNU Project, a student at the Helsinki University of Technology released a working kernel called “Linux”. Adding that key software to the GNU programs GNU/Linux was born… together with the dispute. Many people, leadered by those that disliked the strong political positions of Mr. Stallman, started to mention the whole OS with the name of its kernel “Linux”. The attempt was to shadow and forget GNU, the Free Software Foundation and -above all- its “controversial” values. Those guys and the so-called “open source” people succeeded in their goal. I came to think that this happened mainly because the difference between Linux and GNU+Linux wasn’t something you could see out there, in action in the real world. Time had to pass.
Fast forward today. Linux, the kernel, is prevailing. The vast majority of us uses portable computers that we call “smartphones” (“spying devices” according to RMS), and this made a miracle. Android, which real name is Android+Linux, dominates the OS scenario, by getting a whopping 38% market share, against Windows’ 32% (https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share). But… this is no good news for freedom lovers. Why?
GIVE ME A LITTLE PENGUIN FOR MY GNU TO SAVE
The problem lies on the Android side of the Android+Linux duo. Android is non-free, proprietary software. It tries all the time to control the user. And, most of the times, it succeeds. The core of the problem lies in its “Play Store”: “thanks” to it, Google (the company owning Android) can actually control what we can and can’t install on our phones. You could easily say it controls our phones. End of the game? Well, there might be a solution.
A bunch of free software heroes (forgive me RMS, I know you don’t like the Apache license, but revolution is not a gala dinner) released recently an app that runs on Android and can make all the difference. The app is called Termux and what is does is… it gives us the tools to bring all the GNU software onto our phones, without the need to remove Android, at least in the first place. The result of the process is that you get GNU+Linux back on your phone.
Practically speaking the result of this little “hack” is to let the GNU roam and destroy the jail that kept the penguin from bringing freedom to us final users. And this may open incredibly free scenarios, like in the final scene of “The Matrix”. Termux is Neo, the hero that terminates androids and restores freedom. 🙂
An entire legion of penguins is out there, waiting to be freed, and to take their revenge against Google, the new enemy of freedom that took the place that once was Microsoft’s stance: number 1. Time has come for it, or -to put it Penguins-of-Madagascar way: “Yes, Rico, Kaboom”.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The image, created by David Revoy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.