When talking about Linux development linux folks are often talking about just the linux kernel. Like here
The problem is that by using the term linux interchangeably they can get away from criticism. so great stuff people talk in conferences is actually about the kernel and not the whole OS. this is like apple saying that they have cutting edge IPv6 support when the Carbon API for the network manager crashed the Quartz compositor every 10 minutes.
I mean no-one gives a squat that mac os 9 had a nanokernel, other than basement neckbeards (like me), the OS still sucked donkey balls. why the eff should people rejoice every time a new version of the kernel comes out.