1 August 2006
What is Linux/GNU
Linux/GNU has been around for over 20 years. It all started when Richard Stallman published the GNU Manifesto, which outlined his motivation for creating a free operating system called GNU, which would be compatible with Unix, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU’s Not Unix. Soon after, he incorporated the non-profit Free Software Foundation to employ free software programmers and provide a legal infrastructure for the free software community.
In 1985, Stallman invented and popularized the concept of copyleft, a legal mechanism to protect the modification and redistribution rights for free software. The first implementation was in the GNU Emacs General Public License; and in 1989, the first program-independent GNU General Public License released. By then, much of the GNU system was in the works, with the notable exception of a kernel. Members of the GNU project began a kernel called GNU Hurd in 1990, but a risky design decision proved to be a bad gamble, and development of Hurd was slow.
By producing software tools needed to write software, and publishing a generalized license that could apply to any software project, Stallman helped make it easier for others to write free software independent of the GNU project.
In 1991, one such independent project headed by Linus Tovald produced the Linux kernel. This could combine with the GNU system to make a complete operating system. Most people use the name Linux to refer to the combinations of the Linux kernel itself plus the GNU system.