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GNU is Not Unix Software Linux

Can GNU Ever Be Unix? 217

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the how-much-wood-could-a-woodchuck-chuck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The question isn't whether Linux can be certified as Unix. At least some distributions no doubt can. But who would pay for it? And is it worth the trouble? Jem Matzan asks these questions on NewsForge, and reminds us that the Open Group, not SCO, owns the Unix trademark,"
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Can GNU Ever Be Unix?

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  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2004 @10:48AM (#9857910)
    Is there really a good reason why would GNU be considered as UNIX officially? GNU has it's own credibility. What is UNIX anyway? Does anyone have a concrete definition of what UNIX is right now (no historical reasons, not the fact that the filesystem starts with /).

    The UNIX specifications (93, 95, 98 and 03) specifically define what can be called a UNIX. Before then (each number is a year btw), I believe all you can do is combine all the generally accepted unix based systems (UNIX, BSD, AmigaOS, Xenix, etc) and accept that there was a time when there was no really accepted 'standard' and everyone just did thngs a similar way
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday August 01, 2004 @10:59AM (#9857945) Journal
    Linux deviates from Posix in several ways, and at least one of them is deliberate - because Linus is convinced that his way is better. Posix can't change because that would break all the existing and past unixes. IMHO Linus is unlikely to change because he believes in the advantages of his way.

    (I don't recall what the particular difference was but as I recall Linus had a very good point. Security? Robustness? Anyhow it should be trivial to look it up - which I'd do if I had the time just now.)

    And I don't see that it really matters, since they can continue as two operating systems and virtually anything will operate well on both, and some things break even crossing between Posix-compatible systems. Linux is doing quite well as is and may end up dominating. The rumors of the demise of the BSDs seem overblown. And who knows what will come next.
  • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday August 01, 2004 @10:59AM (#9857946) Homepage Journal

    UNIX® describes any operating system sold under a brand licensing [opengroup.org] agreement with the Open Group. This requires the product to pass a checklist [opengroup.org] that includes certification to the Single UNIX Specification [unix.org] (free reg. req.) on a given set of supported hardware, based in part on product testing [opengroup.org], and payment of brand fees pursuant to the Trademark Licensing Agreement [opengroup.org] (PDF). Often these brand fees [opengroup.org] are high enough to shut out publishers of low-volume operating system products.

  • by ggvaidya (747058) on Sunday August 01, 2004 @11:04AM (#9857966) Homepage Journal
    ...the Open Group, not SCO, owns the Unix trademark,"

    Dude, read your f\w+ screen!

  • Re:It's GNU/Linux! (Score:3, Informative)

    by ultranova (717540) on Sunday August 01, 2004 @11:10AM (#9857991)

    No, no, no. It's only GNU/Linux when those thieving Linux bastards don't give credit to the GNU folks, by calling the OS just 'Linux'.

    RMS has no problem with you just calling it GNU.

    No. GNU/Linux is not the same as GNU. The "official" kernel of the GNU system is Hurd [gnu.org]. From the linked website:

    "The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. The Hurd is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux)."

    This clearly indicates that Hurd is the kernel specifically designed to be the centerpiece of the GNU system. Linux is just an acceptable placeholder until the Hurd is ready for spotlight. Therefore GNU/Linux is just a precursor for the True GNU System.

    Seriously speaking, the Hurd does seem to have a number of very nice ideas - the translators (little programs that can be attached to directories and files, and which will then control all access to those files - so you can attach one to a directory and make the contents of an FTP site or whatever appear there - not unlike the proc filesystem on Linux), for example. I wonder if anything like them could be implemented in Linux ?

    It also has some very serious problems, such as a lack of device drivers and every existing filesystem server memorymapping the entire partition, which means that you can't use partitions larger than 2 GB on a 32-bit system...

    Oh well, it's good to know that the next generation free open source operating system is already being worked on - should keep Linux from getting fat and lazy ;).

  • Nope. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2004 @11:11AM (#9857998)

    One of the reasons that GNU's Not Unix is because intentionally or not, a lot of the GNU tools differ from and are often outright incompatible with their counterparts from the original Unix and its descendents. There would be a lot rewriting and outright disposal of some of the primary features (or "incompatible extensions", as we would say if this were Microsoft) of the GNU utilities and libraries. These changes would also break compatibility in innumerable ways just among various pieces of GNU software. File formats would have to change. (gtar archives, Makefiles, etc)

    The GNU project was a good idea with a good mission, but specifically calling it "GNU's Not Unix" really backfired on them in this aspect because Unix as we know it today is now more popular than it's ever been among both geeks and the corporate world.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2004 @11:48AM (#9858148)
    It applies when bidding for contracts, especially government. Government contracts usually require a checklist of features, and if one of them asks for UNIX-certified OS, then people can't make bids using Linux.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gmail. ... m minus language> on Sunday August 01, 2004 @12:05PM (#9858216)
    You're forgetting Mac OS X.
    No I'm not. OS X is based on FreeBSD and is not Open Group certified last I heard. Moreover, one of the major features of OS X.2 IIRC was enhanced Linux compatibility.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by alangmead (109702) * on Sunday August 01, 2004 @12:18PM (#9858270)

    Before the Open Group had the trademark and developed the certification process, AT&T held the trademark and might allow AT&T source licensees to use it. In the later years, they had a certification process that became the initial Open Group certification. When AT&T owned it, anything marked as Unix had some amount of AT&T code as its base. BSD hadn't still contained AT&T code, the Net2 [oreilly.com] release was in 1994, so all commercial BSD based systems (older SunOS, NeXT, older SGI, etc.) were derivatives of a common code base . Xenix was a based on an early Bell Labs release. (I don't know where the reference to AmigaOS came from.)

    The AT&T conformance was mostly to prove that when vendors made local modifications, they didn't mess anything up.

  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2004 @12:39PM (#9858368)
    (I don't know where the reference to AmigaOS came from.)

    Amigas were a mid 1980s UNIX based machine with dedicated coprocessors to do just about ANYTHING without the CPU needing to handle it all. They lasted about until 1995.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by andreyw (798182) on Sunday August 01, 2004 @12:49PM (#9858435) Homepage
    AmigaOS was not UNIX. It wasn't even UNIX-based. It was however an innovative design nontheless, with a message-passing microkernel.
  • Re:It's GNU/Linux! (Score:3, Informative)

    by EricFenderson (64220) on Sunday August 01, 2004 @02:35PM (#9858982)

    I have been hearing about Hurd at least since 1992 or so, ever since Linus started his project. This is 12 years now, and nothing concrete has come up yet, that can be adopted by the masses.

    Not even close to the truth: Debian GNU/Hurd [debian.org]

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