Free Software Foundation

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Related to Free Software Foundation: gnu, Open Source Initiative, Richard Stallman, Linux Foundation

Free Software Foundation

(FSF) An organisation devoted to the creation and dissemination of free software, i.e. software that is free from licensing fees or restrictions on use. The Foundation's main work is supporting the GNU project, started by Richard Stallman (RMS), partly to proselytise for his position that information is community property and all software source should be shared.

The GNU project has developed the GNU Emacs editor and a C compiler, gcc, replacements for many Unix utilities and many other tools. A complete Unix-like operating system (HURD) is in the works (April 1994).

Software is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, which also provides a good summary of the Foundation's goals and principles. The Free Software Foundation raises most of its funds from distributing its software, although it is a charity rather than a company. Although the software is freely available (e.g. by FTP - see below) users are encouraged to support the work of the FSF by paying for their distribution service or by making donations.

One of the slogans of the FSF is "Help stamp out software hoarding!" This remains controversial because authors want to own, assign and sell the results of their labour. However, many hackers who disagree with RMS have nevertheless cooperated to produce large amounts of high-quality software for free redistribution under the Free Software Foundation's imprimatur.

See copyleft, General Public Virus, GNU archive site.

Unofficial WWW pages: PDX, DeLorie.

E-mail: <>.

Address: Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Telephone: +1 (617) 876 3296.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

Free Software Foundation

(Free Software Foundation, Inc., Boston, MA, A non-profit organization founded in 1985 by Richard Stallman, dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying and modifying programs by promoting the development and use of freely redistributable software. It oversees the development of software for its GNU computing environment and provides online and CD-ROM distribution of GNU and other programs. See free software, GNU Manifesto, GNU, GNU/Linux and League for Programming Freedom.
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Ironically, FLOSS members don't consider themselves a political movement even though they oppose the Free Software Foundation and other copyleft groups for political reasons.
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The Free Software Foundation developed its GNU General Public License (GPL), which has the largest usage of all open-source software (OSS) licenses, with the intention of preventing software vendors, who utilise open source software in developing their own software, from imposing restrictions on downstream users.
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To better understand this position, it is important to understand that the Free Software Foundation views free software in the same light as free speech.
pdf/Wallace-Complaint.pdf (alleging that the Free Software Foundation
(5) Free Software Foundation, The GNU General Public License: Version 2.0 (June 1991) The GNU Project <>.
businesses, including some Fortune 500 companies, addressing, specifically, the status and legal implications of the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License, under which Linux and other Open Source software is distributed.
For years, techies have touted the practical benefits and even the "ethical virtues" of open software as advocated by the Free Software Foundation and others.

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