The GNU Project (GNU's Not Unix) was started by Richard Stallman back in 1983 as a need to continue the pioneering spirit and philosophy of freedom of the developers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Lab, with the goal of creating a clone of the UNIX operating system which would be free for all to use, copy and modify as the Need arose. In 1985 he created the Free Software Foundation and developed a revolutionary new kind of licence called the GPL (General Public Licence) which allowed people to release software or intellectual property without the usual constraints on copying and modifying implied by conventional copyright. The licence also protects the future freedom of the work by requiring that any modified versions are also avaliable under the GPL or similar free licence. This prevents exploitation of the free ideas in proprietary software and people taking undue credit for someone else's work. This concept of copyleft has been extended to include other non-software creative works such as music and this website.
Linux, the kernel, was created initially as a hobby project by Linus Torvalds in 1991. He used the GNU tools then available to develop a complete free operating system called GNU/Linux. This project grew in size and power as more developers joined the work, using the Internet to enable world-wide collaboration and forming a vast community of people united for a common cause: that of constructing a free, powerful and secure operating system for everyone. Originally limited to the domain of programmers, GNU/Linux is now user-friendly enough for use on the desktop and stable enough for mission critical servers in the corporate sector, and is rapidly being deployed instead of conventional proprietary software.
Linux is a better OS! ;-)
© copyleft Malcolm Smith 2002-02-07 - last updated 2006-08-05 - links verified 2006-08-05