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The GNU Operating System - Free as in Freedom

What is the GNU project?

The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete UNIX-like operating system which is free software: the GNU system. Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel called Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as “Linux”, they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems.

GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU's Not UNIX”; it is pronounced guh-noo, like canoe.

What is Free Software?

Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free ice cream”.

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

What is the Free Software Foundation?

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Project. The FSF receives very little funding from corporations or grant-making foundations, but relies on support from individuals like you.

Please consider helping the FSF by becoming an associate member, buying manuals and gear or by donating money. If you use Free Software in your business, you can also consider corporate patronage or a deluxe distribution of GNU software as a way to support the FSF.

The GNU project supports the FSF's mission to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of Free Software users. We support the freedoms of speech, press, and association on the Internet, the right to use encryption software for private communication, and the right to write software unimpeded by private monopolies. You can also learn more about these issues in the book Free Software, Free Society and the independent Free Software Magazine.

More information

GNUs Flashes

The first discussion draft for version 2 of the GNU Free Documentation License has been released. Please read the new text and contribute comments!

Read a few points of clarification by the FSF with regard to recent misinformation about GPLv3.

Watch Trusted Computing: An Animated Short Story by Benjamin Stephen and Lutz Vogel for a great introduction to what "Trusted Computing" really means.

For other news, as well as for items that used to be in this GNUs Flashes section, see What's New in and about the GNU Project.


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