[FSFE PR][EN] Happy Birthday To GNU! — The FSFE Celebrates the GNU Project's 25th Birthday!

Graeme West west at fsfeurope.org
Sat Sep 27 10:41:13 CEST 2008

Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the initial announcement of
the GNU Project, a pioneering initiative to develop an operating system
that gives all users the freedom to modify it and publish modified
versions, individually or working together. The Free Software Foundation
Europe (FSFE) commends the substantial achievements of GNU's first
quarter-century and look forward to furthering their shared goal of
facilitating software freedoms.

27th September 2008 — 25 years ago today, the GNU Project was launched
by Richard M. Stallman with the goal of creating an entire operating
system that anyone was free to use, study, share and improve. These
freedoms grant all users the independence and flexibility to use their
computer for any purpose, without the artificial restrictions which
proprietary software imposes, such as vendor lock-in, proprietary file
formats and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). From its humble
origins in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, GNU has grown to be
one of the most popular operating systems in the world and fostered the
development of thousands of other Free Software applications.

The Free Software Foundation (FSFE's sister organisation based in
Boston, MA) was founded in 1985 to promote the core idea behind
Stallman's GNU Project: that the freedom to examine, modify, copy, and
share software is essential for a just, free society. Much of the work
was done between 1983 and 1991, and this laid the groundwork for many
third-party projects which later also brought these freedoms to computer
users. The operating system was completed in 1992 by the third-party
development of a core component called "Linux". The success of GNU/Linux
operating system encouraged the development of many other Free Software
projects such as Firefox, KDE and OpenOffice.org. Today, there are
hundreds of GNU/Linux distributions in the world, powering millions of
computers ranging from web servers and kitchen appliances to cellphones
and laptops.

"The contributions of the GNU project to the computing world are
difficult to overstate", says Georg C. F. Greve, President of the Free
Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). "For the first time there was an
awareness of Free Software, and the concept of Copyleft revolutionised
the way in which freedom is spread and protected. Both intellectual
achievements laid the groundwork for the immense success of GNU/Linux,
which has meanwhile established itself as the primary competitor to
proprietary operating systems across the gamut of computing, from
large-scale scientific research to affordable consumer laptops. In so
doing GNU was at the root of giving users control over their computing
environment and data."

The FSFE was established in 2001 to further the political and social
goals that also provide the basis of the GNU Project, and to support the
flourishing European Free Software community. "The FSFE works closely
with its partners around Europe and beyond to ensure that the spirit of
Stallman's original announcement is backed up with practise, and works
to promote awareness of the Free Software message", explains Shane
Coughlan, coordinator of the FSFE's Freedom Task Force.

More and more countries are turning to Free Software for use in the
public sector and education. While many businesses have long been using
and contributing to Free Software in order to gain marketplace
advantages and cost savings, governments are increasingly realising the
benefits of Free Software in terms of sovereignty, transparency, and
self-determination. By its very nature of promoting sharing,
collaboration, and sustainability, Free Software ensures that all users
have the ability to determine and shape their computing future.
About the Free Software Foundation Europe

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in the
information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free Software
Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the furthering of
Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study, modify and copy.
Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues, securing Free
Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by
supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE.

You will find further information about the work of the FSFE at

Notes for editors

    * The GNU Project seeks to enable and maintain the four fundamental
freedoms of software: to run software "for any purpose", to study and
adapt software according to individual needs, to distribute copies of
the software, and to improve the software, sharing the benefits with
    * The GNU Project pioneered the concept of copyleft licensing, which
preserves fundamental software freedoms by using copyright to enforce
the sharing of derivative software under the same license as original


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