Wednesday the Free Software Foundation celebrated “the 40th anniversary of the GNU operating system and the launch of the free software movement,” with an announcement calling it “a turning point in the history of computing.
“Forty years later, GNU and free software are even more relevant. While software has become deeply ingrained into everyday life, the vast majority of users do not have full control over it… ”
On September 27, 1983, a computer scientist named Richard Stallman announced the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU, for “GNU’s not Unix.” GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users’ freedom, and has remained true to its founding ideals for forty years. Since 1983, the GNU Project has provided a full, ethical replacement for proprietary operating systems. This is thanks to the forty years of tireless work from volunteer GNU developers around the world.
When describing GNU’s history and the background behind its initial announcement, Stallman (often known simply as “RMS”) stated, “with a free operating system, we could again have a community of cooperating hackers — and invite anyone to join. And anyone would be able to use a computer without starting out by conspiring to deprive his or her friends.”
“When we look back at the history of the free software movement — or the idea that users should be in control of their own computing — it starts with GNU,” said Zoë Kooyman, executive director of the FSF, which sponsors GNU’s development. “The GNU System isn’t just the most widely used operating system that is based on free software. GNU is also at the core of a philosophy that has guided the free software movement for forty years.”
Usually combined with the kernel Linux, GNU forms the backbone of the Internet and powers millions of servers, desktops, and embedded computing devices. Aside from its technical advancements, GNU pioneered the concept of “copyleft,” the approach to software licensing that requires the same rights to be preserved in derivative works, and is best exemplified by the GNU General Public License (GPL). As Stallman stated, “The goal of GNU was to give users freedom, not just to be popular. So we needed to use distribution terms that would prevent GNU software from being turned into proprietary software. The method we use is called ‘copyleft.'”
The free software community has held strong for forty years and continues to grow, as exemplified by the FSF’s annual LibrePlanet conference on software freedom and digital ethics.
Kooyman continues, “We hope that the fortieth anniversary will inspire hackers, both old and new, to join GNU in its goal to create, improve, and share free software around the world. Software is controlling our world these days, and GNU is a critique and solution to the status quo that we desperately need in order to not have our technology control us.”
“In honor of GNU’s fortieth anniversary, its organizational sponsor the FSF is organizing a hackday for families, students, and anyone interested in celebrating GNU’s anniversary. It will be held at the FSF’s offices in Boston, MA on October 1.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Source: Slashdot – GNU Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary