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GNU () is an extensive collection of
free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty ...
, which can be used as an operating system or can be used in parts with other operating systems. The use of the completed GNU tools led to the family of operating systems popularly known as
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product ...

Linux
. Most of GNU is licensed under the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This i ...
's own General Public License (
GPL The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that ...
). GNU is also the project within which the free software concept originated.
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement The free software movement is a social movement Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popul ...

Richard Stallman
, the founder of the project, views GNU as a "technical means to a social end". Relatedly,
Lawrence Lessig Lester Lawrence Lessig III (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic, attorney, and political activist. He is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvar ...

Lawrence Lessig
states in his introduction to the second edition of Stallman's book '' Free Software, Free Society'' that in it Stallman has written about "the social aspects of software and how Free Software can create community and social justice".


Name

''GNU'' is a
recursive acronym A recursive acronym is an acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or European Union, EU (Europ ...
for "GNU's Not Unix!", chosen because GNU's design is
Unix-like A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix) operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, computer software, software resources, and provides common daemon (computing), services for compu ...
, but differs from
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to ...

Unix
by being free software and containing no Unix code. Stallman chose the name by using various plays on words, including the song ''
The Gnu "The Gnu" (sometimes known as "A Gnu", "I'm a Gnu" or "The Gnu Song") is a humorous song about a talking gnu by Flanders and Swann. The word ''gnu'' is consistently pronounced in the song with two syllables as "g-noo", with the ''g'' clearly enu ...
''.


History

Development of the GNU operating system was initiated by
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement The free software movement is a social movement Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popul ...

Richard Stallman
while he worked at MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It was called the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This i ...
, and was publicly announced on September 27, 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft
newsgroup A Usenet newsgroup is a Software repository, repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages Posting style, posted from users in different locations using the Internet. They are discussion groups and are not devoted to publishing news. N ...
s by Stallman. Software development began on January 5, 1984, when Stallman quit his job at the Lab so that they could not claim ownership or interfere with distributing GNU components as free software. The goal was to bring a completely free software operating system into existence. Stallman wanted computer users to be free to study the source code of the software they use, share software with other people, modify the behavior of software, and publish their modified versions of the software. This philosophy was published as the
GNU Manifesto __NOTOC__ 235px, Richard M. Stallman (cover picture for Free as in Freedom'')">Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software">Free as in Freedom'') The ''GNU Manifesto'' is a call-to-action by Richard Stallman Richard Mat ...
in March 1985. Richard Stallman's experience with the
Incompatible Timesharing System Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS) is a time-sharing operating system developed principally by the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, with help from Project MAC. The name is the jocular complement of the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System ...
(ITS), an early operating system written in
assembly language In computer programming Computer programming is the process of designing and building an executable computer program to accomplish a specific computing result or to perform a particular task. Programming involves tasks such as analysis, genera ...
that became obsolete due to discontinuation of
PDP-10 Digital Equipment Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC ), using the Digital, was a major American company in the from the 1960s to the 1990s. The company was co-founded by and in 1957. Olsen was president until forced to resi ...
, the computer architecture for which ITS was written, led to a decision that a
portable Portable may refer to: General * Portable building, a manufactured structure that is built off site and moved in upon completion of site and utility work * Portable classroom, a temporary building installed on the grounds of a school to provide ad ...
system was necessary. It was thus decided that the development would be started using C and
Lisp Lisp (historically LISP) is a family of programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of string (computer science), words whose symbo ...
as system programming languages, and that GNU would be compatible with Unix. At the time, Unix was already a popular
proprietary {{Short pages monitor *
Free software movement The free software movement is a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popu ...
*
History of free and open-source software In the 1950s and 1960s, computer operating software and compilers were delivered as a part of hardware purchases without separate fees. At the time, source code, the human-readable form of software, was generally distributed with the software pro ...
*
List of computing mascotsThis is a list of computing mascots. A mascot A mascot is any human, animal, or object thought to bring luck, or anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, university society, soci ...
* :Computing mascots


References


External links

*
Ports of GNU utilities for Microsoft Windows

The daemon, the GNU and the penguin
{{Authority control Free software operating systems GNU Project GNU Project software Mach (kernel) Microkernel-based operating systems Unix variants Acronyms