This quote from the GNU/Hurd description page caught me wondering if there isn't a serious paradox afoot.

Although it is possible to bootstrap the GNU/Hurd system from the sources by cross-compiling and installing the system software and the basic applications, this is a difficult process. It is not recommended that you do this. Instead, you should get a binary distribution of the GNU/Hurd, which comes with all the GNU software precompiled and an installation routine which is easy to use.

Wait, Hurd, the only 100% completely GNU-friendly OS out there is telling you that Hurd's open source is, practically speaking, worthless?

I was pretty hard on Microsoft for doing the same thing, which compels me to be relatively tough again. If the build process is so convoluted as to be impractical, all Hurd has done is substituted a closed society of cyborgs for a dance on the legal intellectual property circuit.

Perhaps we could argue that Microsoft made their "open standard" confusingly intricate intentionally, or at least that they weren't in a position where the .doc format had to be so complicated. Hurd, on the other hand, is an in-progress hack by a bunch of part-timers. Perhaps we should argue that Microsoft is making a profit and is traditionally more interested in closely their intellectual property than opening it for reuse in ways Hurd would never dream.

Still, if GNU wants to show the value of open source and Freedom Software, they need to do a better job ensuring that their mascot, of sorts, is more accessible. If you ask me, with Hurd, the printer's still jammed and nobody can do a thing about it from where they're sitting. Instead of drafting GPL 3 or taking pot shots at Linux's file maintenance system, perhaps GNU should pour that time into making a clean, accessible Hurd.