[Dev] [consensus][due: 2016-06-13]: New version for Parabola Social Contract

Luke Shumaker lukeshu at sbcglobal.net
Thu Jun 9 05:26:34 GMT 2016

On Wed, 08 Jun 2016 01:21:27 -0400,
André Silva wrote:
> > He did essentially several search/replaces:
> >  - "ArchLinux" -> "Arch" or "Arch GNU/Linux"
> >    Saying "Arch GNU/Linux" is wrong, it should be "Arch Linux".
> >    "Arch" is acceptable shorthand after the first use.
> So, why FSF article about common distros [3] says "Arch GNU/Linux"?
> In my opinion, we should do the same than FSF article for our Social
> Contract to avoid the wrong name 'Linux' as operating system.

The full name of the operating system that Parabola GNU/Linux-libre is
based on is "Arch Linux".  The name "Arch Linux" is an unfortunate
misnomer, as it is a variant of GNU/Linux but lacks "GNU" in the name.

Justifiably and understandably, RMS (and thus the FSF) believes that
because GNU is being wronged by being left out of the name while
"Linux" is included, that it is right and just to similarly mutilate
Arch Linux' name.  That the Arch developers have no moral authority to
insist otherwise, as they are guilty of the same act.

I don't disagree with this, in the general case.  However, there are
two factors that make me feel otherwise here:

 1. In this formal context, I believe that we should use formal name
    given to it by its developers.

So, why do we (Parabola) still call it "Arch Linux" in some informal
contexts (when we don't call it just "Arch", which we do most of the

 2. Maybe they don't have moral authority to insist on it, but Arch
    developers insist on it anyway.  And Parabola maintaining a good
    relationship with them is a good idea.

> > In the social contract, we should be as clear and precise as
> > possible.  The operating system is called "Arch Linux".  It is an
> > unfortunate name that contributes to the Linux vs. GNU/Linux
> > confusion, but that is what it is factually named.  Note that in my
> > wording, I wrote "Arch Linux" the first time it appears within a
> > paragraph, but simply "Arch" after that.  I believe that this is an
> > acceptable compromise.
> You say "we should be as clear and precise as possible". Put the
> inappropriate name "Linux" as operating system of Arch gives people the
> wrong idea and conveys a mistaken idea of the system's origin, history,
> purpose, even if it is the factually named by the Arch devs. Parabola as
> endorsed FSF distro shouldn't use it, mainly in the Social Contract.
> There's an important point in the article "Why the ‘Linux system’ should
> be called GNU/Linux" [4] that says: "Linux has been associated ever
> since it was first coined with a philosophy that does not make a
> commitment to the freedom to cooperate."

Note that we generally don't refer to it as "Arch Linux", and that
it's usually just "Arch" in our documentation.

Options for how to refer to it

 - "Arch Linux"     Obvious problems that you are bringing up.
 - "Arch GNU/Linux" I oppose calling it this in our Social Contract because
                    that's not what it is named.
 - "Arch"           Just avoid the issue altogether, right?  Well,
                    there can be confusion here.  Besides GNU Arch,
                    (a version control system) there are several other
                    operating systems that use "Arch" as the principal
                    part of their name; "Arch Hurd" and
		    "Arch Linux ARM" to name two.  These two aren't
                    what clause 4 in our Social Contract is referring
                    to.  Perhaps we should add a clause 5 for
		    Arch Linux ARM; but that's not what clause 4 is
 - new idea, see below

Or, less simply, we could use the following as the opeing bit of
clause 4:

    4.  **Parabola and Arch Linux**: We will produce an operating system
        that is a Free version of the GNU/Linux system [Arch

It's a little wordy, but I'd approve of it.

> Also, there is another
> important point in the part "Name Confusion" of the Free System
> Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG) article [5] that says: "this (in this
> case Parabola) would promote a misunderstanding of what “GNU” means."

That part of the FSDG is actually not talking about this scenario.

The scenario described by that part of the FSDG is if there were a
GNU/Linux operating system called "Foobar" or "Foobar Linux" that
contained non-free code, and a flavor of it that was 100% Free called
"GNU Foobar", "Foobar GNU", or "Foobar GNU/Linux".  That is, it is
speaking specifically about the dichotomy of having two variants of
the operating system, the where a variant without "GNU" in the name
does not obey the FSDG, and a variant with "GNU" in the name does obey
the FSDG (other than the section about name confusion).

It would be like if we took non-free "Arch Linux" and made our free
derivate of it and called it "Arch GNU/Linux".

(Sorry for any typos, I'm not yet quite used to the tiny keyboard on
the X60 that I'm typeing this on.)

Happy hacking,
~ Luke Shumaker

More information about the Dev mailing list