GNU Project

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The GNU Project is a free software, mass collaboration project, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. It initiated the GNU operating system, software development for which began in January 1984. GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for "GNU's Not Unix".

The founding goal of the project was, in the words of its initial announcement,[citation needed] to develop "a sufficient body of free software [...] to get along without any software that is not free." To make this happen, the GNU Project began working on an operating system called GNU. This goal of making a free software operating system was achieved in 1992 when the last gap in the GNU system, a kernel, was filled by a third-party Unix-style kernel called "Linux" being released as free software.

Current work of the GNU Project includes software development, awareness building, and political campaigning.



[edit] Philosophy and activism

Although most of the GNU Project's output is technical in nature, it was launched as a social, ethical, and political initiative. As well as producing software and licenses, the GNU Project has published a large number of philosophical writings, the majority of which were authored by Richard Stallman.

[edit] Software development

The software development activities of the GNU Project can be split into two stages. In the 80s and early 90s, the GNU Project worked on developing operating system software. In the mid-90s the focus shifted toward strategic projects.

[edit] Operating system development

The first goal of the GNU Project was to make a whole free software operating system exist. Aiming at this target, project collaborators started writing an operating system. The goal was achieved in 1992 without the GNU Project having had to completely finish their planned operating system. A third-party kernel, called Linux, filled the last gap, so a whole free software operating system was finished without the FSF having to finish the kernel it was working on, GNU Hurd.

[edit] Strategic projects

From the mid-90s onward, with many companies investing in free software development, the Free Software Foundation redirected its funds toward the legal and political support of free software development. Software development from that point on focussed on maintaining existing projects, and starting new projects only when there was an acute threat to the free software community.

[edit] GNOME

One example is the GNOME desktop. This development effort was launched by the GNU Project because another desktop system, KDE, was becoming popular but required users to install certain proprietary software. To prevent people from being tempted to install that proprietary software, the GNU Project simultaneously launched two projects. One was the Harmony toolkit. This was an attempt to make a free software replacement for the proprietary software that KDE depended on. If this project was successful, the problem with KDE would be gone. The second project was GNOME, which tackled the same issue from a different angle. It aimed to make a replacement for KDE, one which didn't have any dependencies on proprietary software. The Harmony project didn't make much progress, but GNOME developed very well. Eventually, the proprietary component that KDE depended on (Qt) was released as free software.[1]

[edit] Gnash

Another example is Gnash. Gnash is software to play animations which are distributed in the Adobe Flash format. This has been marked as a priority project by GNU because it was seen that many people were installing a free software operating system and using a free software web-browser, but were then also installing the proprietary software plug-in from Adobe.

[edit] Website and publications

The GNU Project website is translated into many languages by volunteers. Some pages have been translated in 41 languages.[2] For the first years, the website was located at, before being moved, in 1998, to[3]

[edit] Speakers

The following are official speakers for the GNU Project [4]:

[edit] Recognition

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Richard Stallman (2000-09-05). Stallman on Qt, the GPL, KDE, and GNOME. Retrieved on 2005-09-09.
  2. ^ front page.
  3. ^ GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 24. “the Free Software Foundation and GNU Project have moved to the domain”
  4. ^ GNU speakers list.

[edit] External links

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