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GNU (/ɡn/ (About this soundGNU (/ɡn/ (About this soundlisten))[3][4] is a project to create an operating system, consisting of an extensive collection of wholly free software.[5][6][7] The use of the completed GNU tools led to the family of operating systems popularly known as Linux.[8] Since GNU's own kernel never left the early stages of development, the GNU operating system is still considered not ready for production use. Most of GNU is licensed under the GNU Project's own General Public License (GPL).

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project

GNU is also the project within which the free software concept originated. Richard Stallman, the founder of the project, views GNU as a "technical means to a social end".[9] Relatedly, 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".[10]

Name

GNU is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix!",[5][11] chosen because GNU's design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code.[5][12][13]

History

Development of the GNU operating system was initiated by Richard Stallman while he worked at MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It was called the GNU Project, and was publicly announced on September 27, 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft Richard Stallman, the founder of the project, views GNU as a "technical means to a social end".[9] Relatedly, 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".[10]