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Overview of the GNU System.
The GNU operating system is a complete free software system, upward-comaptible with Unix. GNU stands for GNU’s Not Unix Richard Stallman made the Initial Annoucement of the GNU Project in September 1983. A longer version called the GNU Manifesto was published in March 1985. It has been translated into several other languages.
The name GNU was chosen because it met a few requirements; first, it was a recursive acronym for GNU’s Not Unix, second, because it was a real word, and third, it was fun to say
The word free in free software pertains to freedom, not price. You may or may not pay a price to get GNU software. Either way, once you have the software you have four specific freedoms in suing it. The freedom to run the program as you wish; the freedom to cpy the program and give it away to your friends and co-workers; the freedom to change the program as you wish, by having full access to source code;l the freedom to distribute an improved version and thus help build the community. If you redistribute GNU software, you may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, or you may five away copies.
The project to develop the GNU system is called the GNU Project. The GNU Project was conceived in 1983 as a way of bringing back the cooperative spririt that prevailed in the computing community in earlier days – to make cooperation possible once again by removing the obstacless to cooperation imposed by the owners of proprietary software.
In 1971, when Richard Stallman started his career at MIT, he worked in a group which used free software exculsively. Even computer companies often distributed free software. Programmers were free to cooperate with each other, and often did.
By the 1980s, almost all software was proprietary, which means that it had owners who forbid and prevent cooperation by users. This made the GNU Project necessary.
Every computer users needs an operating system;l if there is no free operating system, then you can’t even get started using a computer without resorting to proprietary software. So the first item on the free software agenda obviously had to be a free operating system.
We decided to make the operating system compatible with Unix because the overall design was already proven and protable, and because compatibility makes it easy for Unix users to switch from Unix to GNU.