The aim of this report is to outline what exactly are GNU and the free software foundation.

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The aim of this report is to outline what exactly are GNU and the free software foundation.  All research has been carried out on the Internet.  The topics that will help me discuss these subjects are:

  • What are GNU and the Free Software Foundation (FSF)?
  • Brief history of GNU and the Free Software Foundation.
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of using GNU.
  • How can you contribute?


The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop an operating system that is similar to UNIX, but this would be free software.  GNU was created so that users can have the freedom to share and improve the software they use on their computers.  GNU is a recursive acronym for ‘GNU’s Not Unix’, it is pronounced “guh-new”.  

The goal of the GNU system was to give users freedom, so terms of distribution were used to prevent the GNU software from being turned into proprietary software.  The method used was called ‘copyleft’.  Copyleft uses the same law as copyright but instead of privatizing software it becomes a mean of keeping software free.  It gives everyone permission to run, copy, modify and distribute modified versions but not permission to add restrictions of their own.

The GNU project is not limited to just operating systems, it provides a whole spectrum of software.  This includes application software and recreational software such as games.  They also provide software for people who are not computer experts to help beginners use the GNU system.

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The Free Software Foundation is a tax-exempt charity that is also the principal sponsor of the GNU Project.  They rely on support from individuals and last year over 67% of their operating funds came from individual donors rather than money from corporations or grant-making foundations.  The FSF’s mission is:

“to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of Free Software users” ()

The FSF also obtains income through sales, of copies of free software and of other related services.  It sells CD-ROMs of source code, ...

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