Is Linux a Copyright or Trademark name?

nweaver

Diamond Member
Jan 21, 2001
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Originally posted by: HopJokey
*nix commonly refers to the many flavors on UNIX. One of them being Linux.

linux != UNIX

*nix refers to Linux/Unix and all the variants, as they are often close to the same, and will use the same open source tools/commands, such as ls, sed, awk, etc.
 

drag

Elite Member
Jul 4, 2002
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You can't copyright a name. You can copyright a expression of that name, like a artistic image or something, or you can copyright the Linux kernel itself, but copyrights are orthological to trademarks. Completely and 100% different aspects of law.


The name is definately trademarked. The orginization that owns the trademark "Linux" is the Linux Mark Institute, which was created for the sole purpose of licensing Linux.

The reason for the Linux Mark Institute is because in order to retain a trademark you have to be fairly pro-active about it. If you let people use it willy-nilly then you can loose it. So to allow people to use it legally you have to go about licensing it to people and that is why you have the Linux Mark Institute.

The reason why Linux is trademarked in the first place is so that the name can actually mean something. Without the trademark somebody like Microsoft or whoever could create their own 'Linux' that may not have anything to do with the Linux we know today.

In other words Linux is trademarked to prevent people from abusing the term and making it mean something it is not, prevent people from misrepresenting Linux and confusing others.



Unix itself is also trademarked. The trademark is owned by the 'Open Group'. The reason why Unix is trademarked is similar to Linux.


With Unix it's a bit more difficult though. It was created before people in the software world realy understood the need for trademarks, so Unix was trademarked well after the fact, after the damage has been done and Unix was a more general term.


Unix, in the common lexacon, also means a certain philosophy or approach to operating system design.

There as several aspects of it. Design ideas like:
Everything-is-a-file.
Use small applications that do one thing well rather then large applications that do everything poorly.
Use small applications to build big ones.
Having portable software is more important then having optimized software.
Layered design is better then monolythic designs.


For example TCP/IP is a Unix originated idea. TCP/IP follows a layered approach, seperating different jobs of having a networked application into many different logical layers, each having a specific job to do. Each layer also isolates the upper and lower layers from each other.

For example with TCP/IP the physical layer is seperate from the network layer. You can have the same TCP/IP applications use fiber optics, twisted wired ethernet, virtual interfaces, wireless ethernet, packet radio, or a serial T-1 connection. It doesn't matter. The lower layers take care of the details so the upper layers don't have to.

Based on TCP/IP is the idea of the OSI network layer stack, which you may be familar with if you ever took networking in school.

Before TCP/IP networks were propriatory, non-layered approach. Each computer, each type of network, spoke it's own language and it was very difficult to comunicate between different operating systems.

TCP/IP is slow compared to some things, and it has a lot of overhead that is difficult to deal with in high-end applications like scientific computing, but it still works.


That is all 'Unix' concepts.



So people generally capitolize when taking about Unix as a specific operating system versus talking about unix as a design concept.

Linux follows the unix mindset. It is also a Unix clone, designed to be POSIX compatable.

(POSIX is a API standard originally designed, based on Unix, to ensure application compatability between different operating systems)


In all actuality the low-end of the actual OS is called GNU. For "GNU is not Unix"

GNU was originally a attempt by RMS and friends to create a totally 'Free' Unix clone. The reason they choose to model Unix is because people already knew it and it was widely understood with lots of application support.

GNU failed to create a kernel for it's OS though. The kernel was called HURD and was a 'microkernel' design, which prove to be a bad mistake.

Linus worked on Linux for a while and eventually open sourced it. Linux and GNU went together and thus you have Linux as you now know it today.

People try to sometimes say things like 'GNU/Linux' to recognize that fact, but other people reject it by saying that is politically correct BS or it's a attempt by RMS and friends to take credit for everything.


However GNU/Linux was not the first open source unix!


You see AT&T was the original creator of Unix. However during that time they under restrictions due to their being the monopoly phone company.

One of their restrictions was that they were not allowed to sell computers or computer software. However they could distribute software for research and education purposes.

So they released Unix to various companies and schools for this reason. You could easily obtain books that were simply print-outs of the entire source code for Unix.

One of schools that got the source code for that OS was Berkley University. They created a variation called BSD Unix and then would allow people to get copies for the cost of the media.

Some of the important things they did was the creation of TCP/IP with their work with the Darpa project, which paved the way for the Internet.

Once Unix got commercialized, though, people got scared that people could take the BSD Unix source code and create competing products. So the people who owned the copyrights to the Unix code sued BSD.

Novell eventually got control of the Unix source code copyrights and dropped the lawsuits. In return BSD had to remove all Unix source code from their OS.

This devastated BSD and crippled it for many many years. This paved the way for Linux and GNU to get popular.


So *nix is ment to cover:

All Unix and Unix-like OSes, including Linux and BSD variants. Probably even OS X if they have unixy questions.

If your curious about all the different Unix variants you can check out this visual history of Unix:
http://www.levenez.com/unix/


Current *nix aviable are:
Gnu/Linux distributions, such as: Redhat, Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, etc etc

BSD unix variations: FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Dragonfly BSD.

Unix variations: Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, SCO Unix, etc etc.

And others such as Minix or QNX.

 

dmcowen674

No Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
54,894
47
91
www.alienbabeltech.com
Originally posted by: drag

The name is definately trademarked. The orginization that owns the trademark "Linux" is the Linux Mark Institute, which was created for the sole purpose of licensing Linux.

The reason for the Linux Mark Institute is because in order to retain a trademark you have to be fairly pro-active about it. If you let people use it willy-nilly then you can loose it. So to allow people to use it legally you have to go about licensing it to people and that is why you have the Linux Mark Institute.

The reason why Linux is trademarked in the first place is so that the name can actually mean something. Without the trademark somebody like Microsoft or whoever could create their own 'Linux' that may not have anything to do with the Linux we know today.

In other words Linux is trademarked to prevent people from abusing the term and making it mean something it is not, prevent people from misrepresenting Linux and confusing others.

Unix itself is also trademarked. The trademark is owned by the 'Open Group'. The reason why Unix is trademarked is similar to Linux.

With Unix it's a bit more difficult though. It was created before people in the software world realy understood the need for trademarks, so Unix was trademarked well after the fact, after the damage has been done and Unix was a more general term.

Awesome post sir :thumbsup:

That's pretty much what I thought but very surprised to see it was done strictly to prevent what we see happening everywhere else.

Glad to see so far it is working against the Corporate machine. :D
 

Sunner

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
11,641
0
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On a related note, the issue of Linux as a trademark didn't really get any attention until some lowlife whose name escapes me tried to capitalize on the name by registering it as a trademark of his own(this was before Linus/LMI had it mind you, so it was "legit" in that sense), and then trying to force vendors to pay royalties.

A legal battle ensued, and in the end the trademark was handed over to Linus Torvalds, and everyone lived happily ever after(well, no, not really, but at least this issue was resolved).
 

mugs

Lifer
Apr 29, 2003
48,924
44
91
I've always thought *nix was a stupid abbreviation considering that most of the people who use some variant of Unix or Linux (or Minix :Q) use Linux, which doesn't even fit the pattern *nix.
 

Nothinman

Elite Member
Sep 14, 2001
30,672
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I've always thought *nix was a stupid abbreviation considering that most of the people who use some variant of Unix or Linux (or Minix ) use Linux, which doesn't even fit the pattern *nix.

Yea, it's a pretty bad abbreviation but the other option would be *n*x which is even worse IMO.