Why no mention of GNU?

Benj. Mako Hill mako at canonical.com
Tue Apr 12 11:06:47 CDT 2005

<quote who="Eric Feliksik" date="2005-04-10 22:15:22 +0200">
> Now hoary is out, there is time for talking. On ubuntu-devel, this
> question was asked (see
> http://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2005-March/006386.html ).

In future, please forward the message or paste the text. It's hard to
reply to a message that is not in the text.

> Just curious; looking at the Ubuntu front page
> http://www.ubuntu.com/ it conspicuously doesn't say "GNU"
> anywhere. No mention on the "about" page either (
> http://www.ubuntulinux.org/ubuntu/ )...

In fairness, it only says "Linux" twice and once is directly in
reference to the Linux kernel.

Here's the situation, for the record:

As Tollef pointed out in this thread, we decided early on that Ubuntu
should be called "Ubuntu." Not Ubuntu Linux, not Ubuntu GNU/Linux, not
anything else. Just Ubuntu.  This was intended as a way of avoiding
exactly this debate which we'd found distracting in the past. Not all
of us have been as good at following this plan as we could or should
have. Polite and respectful corrections are welcome.

The website ubuntulinux.org was meant to be a temporary domain that we
used because we couldn't use ubuntu.com early on. We are in the
process of moving away from ubuntulinux.org. It is and will continue
to change.

As for the text on the webpages, our website is written and rewritten
by a large number of people. Some of us are very careful about using
GNU/Linux in reference to the full system and it's a much lower
priority for others. As you've pointed out, the result is

As for the particular pages on the website, you pointed out three
pages, two of which had said Linux instead of GNU/Linux when referring
to the full system. I've changed the about page to remove ambiguous
uses so there is now only one problematic use of the term Linux left.

I'm still deciding how/if I want to change the text on the first
paragraph on the front page. It's the first sentence people will read
and it needs to be abundantly clear.

Here's my feelings:

I think we can all agree that the important element here is one of
principle. Ubuntu's stated philosophy is one of software freedom, zero
cost, accessibility, and localization. I think we all agree this is a
good thing.

You and I will continue to use the terms GNU/Linux and "free software"
because we think they better capture what we think is
important. Others will say Linux and Open Source because their
priorities are different. Many people will fluctuate between the
two. Because our website is community-maintained, this will, to some
degree, be reflected there.

I think that the free software community has spent way too much time
arguing about semantics. What's important is that we bring freedom to
people. IMHO, the banner under which that freedom comes is less


Benjamin Mako Hill
mako at canonical.com

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