Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Aug 2013 17:27 UTC
Linux Steve Cheney:

There's more to the platform wars than mobile - Android is starting to take off in non-mobile markets in a massive way - Internet of Things, Television (Chromecast), etc. To date Linux has been the dominant OS but Android is now taking some embedded designs which would have run Linux. The effective decoupling of Android from carriers for non-mobile markets + the richness of tools and the existing developer ecosystem will likely cement Android as the definitive open source OS of the next decade. This will have pluses for Google but also unintended consequences.

A common misconception among people who don't really understand what Linux is - one that I'm seeing pop up more and more now that people are trying to paint Android in a negative light - i.e., as competition to not just iOS, but also the noble and open source Linux.

Repeat after me: Android is just as much 'Linux' as Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, or anything else that uses the Linux kernel. Technically, a better term would be 'Linux distribution', since Linux in and of itself is just a kernel. Wikipedia defines 'Linux distribution' quite well:

A Linux distribution (often called distro for short) is a member of the family of Unix-like operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel. Such distributions are operating systems including a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players, and database applications. These operating systems consist of the Linux kernel and, usually, a set of libraries and utilities from the GNU Project, with graphics support from the X Window System. Distributions optimized for size may not contain X and tend to use more compact alternatives to the GNU utilities, such as BusyBox, uClibc, or dietlibc.

Android is a Linux distribution, and is an addition to the Linux ecosystem - not a challenger. Painting it as such is just a sign of ignorance.

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RE: don't over generalize
by zdzichu on Mon 19th Aug 2013 18:02 UTC in reply to "don't over generalize"
zdzichu
Member since:
2006-11-07

Suddenly all the work RMS did to properly prefix system with "GNU" makes sense. GNU/Linux is as much Linux as Android/Linux. We need to clearly state _which_ Linux we are talking about.

Reply Parent Score: 19

RE[2]: don't over generalize
by ssokolow on Mon 19th Aug 2013 19:14 in reply to "RE: don't over generalize"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Suddenly all the work RMS did to properly prefix system with "GNU" makes sense. GNU/Linux is as much Linux as Android/Linux. We need to clearly state _which_ Linux we are talking about.


Except that Stallman is just sore about how, with all the effort he put into GNU, Linux got all the glory. GNU is a relatively small portion of the codebase these days and GCC is most of that. By his logic, it should always be called (at minimum) "X11/GNU/Linux", spoken as "X11 on GNU on Linux".

Obviously, not something that's ever going to happen when the average human looks for two- or three-syllable names. (Win-dows, Lin-ux, Mac-OS, O-S-X, An-droid, U-bun-tu, etc.)

(It's one reason I'm glad things like LLVM are slowly squeezing the remaining "fewer LOCs than X11" of GNU out of Linux distros. It'll end this pointless nomenclature argument.)

Hence why people use "Android" to refer to the Java-centric, bootloader-locked platform with the "incomplete but liberally licensed" libc and "Linux" to refer to the ABI of the X11+glibc+Linux stack which usually also comes with the rest of the GNU userland.

As long as your glibc replacement is good enough to meet the needs of the applications you're running on it, the use or non-use of a GNU userland has little to no effect on the "Linux" ABI.

The ABI we care about is more correctly named "X11/Linux" if we're going by Stallman's "GNU on Linux" pronunciation. In fact, if you look at build identifier strings (or similar things like browser User-Agent strings), that's how it's identified.

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20130731 Firefox/24.0

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: don't over generalize
by Vanders on Tue 20th Aug 2013 09:15 in reply to "RE[2]: don't over generalize"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Hence why people use "Android" to refer to the Java-centric, bootloader-locked platform

What name should we use for people running "Android" on an unlocked 'phone?

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: don't over generalize
by Morgan on Mon 19th Aug 2013 22:01 in reply to "RE: don't over generalize"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's the way I've always seen it; Android is the userland, Linux is the kernel.

However, the kernel used in Android --especially of late-- is heavily modified from the stock Linux kernel, particularly compared to other mobile Linux-based platforms like Maemo and WebOS. This is not a complaint or negative criticism, just pointing it out.

Reply Parent Score: 4