GNU

GNU

Screenshot of GNOME, GNU Emacs and the GIMP, all parts of GNU
Website:[1]
Company/
developer:
GNU Project
OS family:Unix-like
Source model:Free software
Kernel type:Microkernel
License:GNU General Public License and other free software licenses
Working state:current


GNU (pronounced ) is a computer operating system composed entirely of free software. Its name is a recursive acronym for GNU's Not Unix, which was chosen because its design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being free software and by not containing any Unix code.[1] GNU was founded by Richard Stallman and was the original focus of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

The project to develop GNU is known as the GNU Project, and programs released under the auspices of the GNU Project are called GNU packages or GNU programs. The system's basic components include the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), the GNU Binary Utilities (binutils), the bash shell, the GNU C library (glibc), and GNU Core Utilities (coreutils).

As of 2007, GNU is being actively developed. Although most components have been completed long ago and have been in production use for a decade or more, its official kernel, GNU Hurd, is incomplete and not all GNU components work with it. For this reason, most GNU users use the third-party Linux kernel. While Linux has not been officially adopted as the kernel of GNU, GNU does officially include other third party software such as the X.Org release of the X Window System and the TeX typesetting system. Many GNU programs have also been ported to numerous other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, BSD variants, Solaris and Mac OS.

The GNU General Public License (GPL), the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) were written for GNU, but are also used by many unrelated projects.

History

The plan for the GNU operating system was publicly announced on September 27 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups by Richard Stallman.[2] Software development began on January 5, 1984, when Stallman quit his job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology so that they could not claim ownership or interfere with distributing GNU as free software. According to Stallman, the name was inspired by various plays on words, including the song The Gnu.[3]

The goal was to bring a wholly free software operating system into existence. Stallman wanted computer users to be free, as most were in the 1960s and 1970s: free to study the source code of the software they use, free to share the software with other people, free to modify the behaviour of the software, and free to publish their modified versions of the software. This philosophy was published in March 1985 as the GNU Manifesto.

Much of the needed software had to be written from scratch, but existing compatible free software components were used. Two examples were the TeX typesetting system, and the X Window System. Most of GNU has been written by volunteers; some in their spare time, some paid by companies, educational institutions, and other non-profit organizations. In October 1985, Stallman set up the Free Software Foundation (FSF). In the late 1980s and 1990s, the FSF hired software developers to write the software needed for GNU.

Richard Stallman's experience with the Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS), an early operating system written in assembly language that became obsolete due to discontinuation of PDP-10, the computer architecture that ITS was written for, led to a decision that a portable system was necessary.[4] It was thus decided that GNU would be mostly compatible with Unix. At the time, Unix was (and is) a popular proprietary operating system. The design of Unix had proven to be solid, and it was modular, so it could be reimplemented piece by piece.

As GNU gained prominence, interested businesses began contributing to development or selling GNU software and technical support. The most prominent and successful of these was Cygnus Solutions, now part of Red Hat.

Design and implementation

The initial plan for GNU was to be mostly Unix-compatible, while adding enhancements where they were useful. By 1990, the GNU system had an extensible text editor (Emacs), a very successful optimizing compiler (GCC), and most of the core libraries and utilities of a standard Unix distribution. As the goal was to make a whole free operating system exist - rather than necessarily to write a whole free operating system - Stallman tried to use existing free software when possible. In the 1980s there was not much free software, but there was the X Window System for graphical display, the TeX typesetting system, and the Mach micro kernel. These components were integrated into GNU.

The main component still missing was the kernel. In the GNU Manifesto, Stallman had mentioned that "an initial kernel exists but many more features are needed to emulate Unix." He was referring to TRIX, a remote procedure call kernel developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose authors had decided to distribute it as free software, and was compatible with Version 7 Unix. In December 1986, work had started on modifying this kernel. However, the developers eventually decided it was unusable as a starting point, primarily because it only ran on "an obscure, expensive 68000 box" and would therefore have to be ported to other architectures before it could be used.

The GNU Project's early plan was to adapt the BSD 4.4-Lite kernel for GNU. Thomas Bushnell, the initial Hurd architect said in hindsight that "It is now perfectly obvious to me that this would have succeeded splendidly and the world would be a very different place today".[5] However, due to a lack of cooperation from the Berkeley programmers, by 1988 Stallman decided instead to use the Mach kernel being developed at Carnegie Mellon University, although its release as free software was delayed until 1990 while its developers worked to remove code copyrighted to AT&T.

The design of the kernel was to be GNU's largest departure from "traditional" Unix. GNU's kernel was to be a multi-server microkernel, and was to consist of a set of programs called servers that offers the same functionality as the traditional Unix kernel. Since the Mach microkernel, by design, provided just the low-level kernel functionality, the GNU Project had to develop the higher-level parts of the kernel, as a collection of user programs. Initially, this collection was to be called Alix, but developer Thomas Bushnell later preferred the name Hurd, so the Alix name was moved to a subsystem and eventually dropped completely.[6] Eventually, development progress of the Hurd became very slow due to ongoing technical issues.[7]

Despite an optimistic announcement by Stallman in 2002[8] predicting a release of GNU/Hurd, further development and design are still required. The latest release of the Hurd is version 0.2. It is fairly stable, suitable for use in non-critical applications. As of 2005, Hurd is in slow development, and is now the official kernel of the GNU system. There is also a project working on porting the GNU system to the kernels of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenSolaris.

After the Linux kernel became usable, Linux became the most common host for GNU software. The GNU project coined the term GNU/Linux for such systems.

See also:

Copyright, licenses, and stewardship

The GNU Project requires that contributors assign the copyright for GNU packages to the Free Software Foundation,[9] although exceptions have been made in the case of MULE,[10] and large parts of GNOME. Most GNU packages are licensed under the GPL, while a few use the LGPL, and an even smaller number use other free software licenses.

Owning the copyright for the software allows FSF to enforce the licenses and to make changes in the licenses.[11]

Ordinarily, copyright law prohibits people from copying and distributing a work, but FSF wrote a license for the GNU software which grant recipients permission to copy and redistribute the software. For most of the 80s, each GNU package had its own license - the Emacs General Public License, the GCC General Public License, etc. In 1989, FSF published a single license they could use for all their software, and which could be used by non-GNU projects: the GNU General Public License (GPL).

This license is now used by most GNU programs, as well as a large number of free software programs that are not part of the GNU project; it is the most commonly used free software license. It gives all recipients of a program the right to run, copy, modify and distribute it, while forbidding them from imposing further restrictions on any copies they distribute. This idea is often referred to as copyleft.

In 1991, the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) was written for certain libraries. 1991 also saw the release of version 2 of the GNU GPL. The GNU Free Documentation License (FDL), for documentation, followed in 2000.

Most GNU software is distributed under the GPL. A minority is distributed under the LGPL, and a handful of packages are distributed under permissive free software licences.[12]

GNU software

Main article: List of GNU packages


Prominent components of the GNU system include the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), the GNU C Library (glibc), the GNU Emacs text editor, and the GNOME desktop environment.

Many GNU programs have been ported to a multitude of other operating systems, including various proprietary platforms such as Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. They are often installed on proprietary UNIX systems as a replacement for proprietary utilities, however, this is often a hot topic among enthusiasts, as the motive for developing these programs was to replace those systems with free software, not to enhance them. These GNU programs have in contested cases been tested to show as being more reliable than their proprietary Unix counterparts.[13]

A list of packages that are well known in the free software community includes: As of 2007, there are a total of 319 GNU packages hosted on the official GNU development site.[14]

Distributions of GNU

Main article: GNU variants


Linux is by far the most popular distribution vector for GNU software, though the Linux kernel is not part of GNU.

GNU itself is distributed as Debian GNU/Hurd by the Debian project, and a Live CD is also available from Superunprivileged.org. GNU variants which do not use the Hurd as a kernel include Debian GNU/kFreeBSD and Debian GNU/NetBSD from Debian, Nexenta OS (GNU plus the kernel of OpenSolaris) and GNU-Darwin.

GNU Logo

The logo for GNU is a gnu head. The well-known drawing was originally done by Etienne Suvasa. It appears in GNU software and in printed and electronic documentation for the GNU project, and is also used in Free Software Foundation materials.[2]

References

1. ^ The GNU Operating system. Retrieved on 2006-12-11.
2. ^ (27 September 1983). "[news://771@mit-eddie.UUCP new UNIX implementation]". [news://net.unix-wizards net.unix-wizards]. (Google Groups). Retrieved on 2006-10-29.
3. ^ Stallman explaining why the name "GNU" was chosen. FSFE. Retrieved on .
4. ^ Stallman describing why a Unix-like design was chosen. FSFE. Retrieved on .
5. ^ Peter H. Salus. The Hurd and BSDI. The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.
6. ^ [3]
7. ^ Stallman describing Hurd progress. “it took many many many years to get this kernel to run at all, and it still doesn't run well, and it looks like there may be fundamental problems with this design, which nobody knew about back in 1990.
8. ^ John Ribeiro (2002-03-11). Free Software Sees Gnu Loose of Linux. PC World. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.
9. ^ [4]
10. ^ [5]
11. ^ [6]
12. ^ [7]
13. ^ [8]
14. ^ [9]

See also

External links

GNU is a computer operating system.

A gnu is an animal.

GNU or Gnu may also refer to:
  • The Government of National Unity (South Africa), a constitutional arrangement

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gnome is a mythical creature characterized by its extremely small size and subterranean free lifestyle.

The word gnome is derived from the New Latin gnomus.
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Maintainer: GNU Project

OS: Cross-platform
Available language(s): English only
Use: Text editor
License: GNU General Public License
Website: www.gnu.
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Gimp may be or refer to:
  • A person with a limp or other physical disability in the legs, e.g. paraplegia
  • The GNU Image Manipulation Program, an open-source, image editing program
  • GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search

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A website (alternatively, Web site or web site) is a collection of Web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that is hosted on one or several Web server(s), usually accessible via the Internet, cell phone or a LAN.
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The term software company could be applied to: a) a company that produces software, distributes software from a third party, or provides services such as custom software development.
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A software developer is a person who is concerned with one or more facets of the software development process, a somewhat broader scope of computer programming or a specialty of project managing.
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The GNU Project is a free software, mass collaboration project, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. It initiated the GNU operating system, software development for which began in January 1984. GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for "GNU's Not Unix".
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Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification.
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Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things.
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microkernel is a minimal computer operating system kernel which, in its purest form, provides no operating-system services at all, only the mechanisms needed to implement such services, such as low-level address space management, thread management, and inter-process
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A software license comprises the permissions, rights and restrictions imposed on software (whether a component or a free-standing program). Use of software without a license could constitute infringement of the owner's exclusive rights under copyright or, occasionally, patent law
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GNU General Public License
Author: Free Software Foundation
Version: 3
Copyright on the license: Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Publication date: 29 June 2007
OSI approved: Yes
Debian approved: Yes
Free Software:
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A free software licence is a software licence which grants recipients rights to modify and redistribute the software which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law. A free software licence grants, to the recipients, freedoms
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International Phonetic Alphabet

Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

The International
Phonetic Alphabet
History
Nonstandard symbols
Extended IPA
Naming conventions
IPA for English The
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An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer. An operating system processes system data and user input, and responds by allocating and managing tasks and internal system resources as a service to users and programs of the
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Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things.
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A recursive acronym (or occasionally recursive initialism) is an abbreviation which refers to itself in the expression for which it stands. Due to the nature of the English language, which would infinitely recurse left-recursive phrases, recursive abbreviations are circular
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Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification.
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Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy.
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Richard Matthew Stallman (born March 16, 1953), often abbreviated "rms",[1] is a software freedom activist, hacker,[2] and software developer. In September 1983, he launched the GNU Project[3]
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The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded on October 4, 1985 [1] by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement ("free" as in "freedom"), and in particular the GNU Project.
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The GNU Project is a free software, mass collaboration project, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. It initiated the GNU operating system, software development for which began in January 1984. GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for "GNU's Not Unix".
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The GNU Compiler Collection (usually shortened to GCC) is a set of compilers produced for various programming languages by the GNU Project. GCC is a key component of the GNU toolchain, and as well as being the official compiler of the GNU system, GCC has been adopted as the
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GNU Binary Utilities, or binutils, is a collection of programming tools for the manipulation of object code in various object file formats. The current versions were originally written by programmers at Cygnus Solutions using the Binary File Descriptor library (libbfd).
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Bash is a Unix shell written for the GNU Project. The name of the actual executable is bash. Its name is an acronym for Bourne-again shell, a pun on the name of the Bourne shell (sh) (i.e.
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The GNU C Library, commonly known as glibc, is the C standard library released by the GNU Project. Originally written by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU operating system, the library's development has been overseen by a committee since 2001, with Ulrich
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GNU Core Utilities or coreutils is a package of GNU software containing many of the basic tools such as cat, ls, and rm needed for Unix-like operating systems. It is a combination of a number of earlier packages, including textutils, shellutils, and
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kernel is the central component of most computer operating systems (OS). Its responsibilities include managing the system's resources (the communication between hardware and software components).
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GNU Hurd (usually referred to as the Hurd) is a free software computer operating system kernel, released under the GNU General Public License. It has been under development since 1990 by the GNU Project of the Free Software Foundation.
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