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lynx-dev Please read and comment

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: lynx-dev Please read and comment
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 23:48:37 -0400

Here's the almost final version of a new pamphlet we are printing, to
give an overview of the GNU project.  I'm sending it out for feedback
before we print it.

Please mail your comments both to me and to bjepson.

\input texinfo

@c        %  -*-texinfo-*-
@c        % leave this in TeX comment format in case
@c        % \magnification=833 ever moves back here from texinfo.tex
@c Copyright notice below
@c keep this as first comment block in file.

@c keep this as second comment block in file:
@c %**start of header
@settitle The GNU Project
@setchapternewpage off
@c %**end of header

@ifclear text
* The GNU Project: (gnu).
@end direntry
@end ifclear

@node Top, What Is GNU, (dir), (dir)
@end ifinfo

The GNU Project

@center Information about the Free Software Foundation, the GNU Project,
@center and how to help.

Free Software Foundation, Inc.   Telephone: @address@hidden@*
59 Temple Place - Suite 330      Fax: (including Japan) @address@hidden@*
Boston, MA @w{ } 02111-1307          Electronic Mail: 
USA                              Web: @address@hidden://address@hidden


@end ifinfo

@unnumberedsubsec Table of Contents

   What Is GNU?
   What Is the FSF?
   What Is Free Software?
   Support for Free Software
   What Is Copyleft?
   What Is Linux?
   What Is the GNU Hurd?
   What Is GNU/Linux?
   Free Software Redistributors Donate
   How We Distribute GNU Software
   What Is the Deluxe Distribution
   Volunteer for the GNU Project
   Give to GNU the United Way
   GNU Project Links
   Donations Translate Into Free Software
@end display

@headings double
@c     So the numbering comes out right.  -len
@end tex

* What Is GNU::             Information on the GNU Project
* What Is the FSF::             Information on the Free Software Foundation
* What Is Free Software?::   Information about Free Software
* Support for Free Software::   Help Using Free Software
* What Is Copyleft::            Information on the GNU General Public Licenses
* What Is Linux::               Linus Torvalds' free kernel
* What Is the GNU Hurd::            The kernel of the GNU operating system
* What Is GNU/Linux?::  A GNU system with a Linux kernel
* Free Software Redistributors Donate::  Authors and Publishers, too
* How We Distribute GNU Software::     Where else to get GNU software
* What Is the Deluxe Distribution:: GNU it in style
* Volunteer for the GNU Project:: Helping make the software
* Give to GNU the United Way::  A convenient way to donate
* GNU Project Links::              Where to find more information
* Donations Translate into Free Software::  How to make more free software

@end menu

@node What Is GNU
@unnumbered What Is GNU?

GNU is an operating system, compatible with Unix, that is entirely free
software.  (The name ``GNU'' stands for @w{``GNU's Not Unix''}, and is
pronounced ``guh-noo''.)  Development of GNU began in January 1984.
@i{The} GNU system has been released only in a test version, but a
somewhat modified variant that uses Linux as the kernel is used by
millions of users.  Many components developed for the GNU system are
also widely used on other operating systems.

@c An older `What Is GNU?' article was deleted.  RMS felt it needed to be split
@c into a `Why Is Free Software Useful?' and `What Is GNU?' articles.
@c we ran out of time to do such a substantial rewrite, and also needed the
@c space.  Get the text from bull17.texi if it ever gets resurrected.
@c -len-bull18

@node What Is the FSF
@unnumbered What Is the FSF?

@c if we ever want to lengthen this ``What Is the FSF?'' section, the
@c language was longer, though in some ways worse in bull11-June 91 -len
The Free Software Foundation is dedicated to eliminating restrictions on
people's right to use, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs.
We do this by promoting the development and use of free software,
particulary the GNU operating system.

Some organizations distribute whatever free software happens to be
available.  By contrast, the Free Software Foundation concentrates on the
development of new free software, working towards the goal of eliminating
the need to use proprietary systems and programs.

Besides developing GNU, the FSF distributes GNU software and manuals for
a distribution fee, and accepts gifts (tax-deductible in the U.S.@:) to
support GNU development.  Most of the FSF's funds come from its
distribution service.

@node What Is Free Software?
@unnumbered What Is Free Software?

The word ``free'' in ``free software'' refers to freedom, not price.
You may or may not pay money to get GNU software, but either way you
have three specific freedoms once you get it: first, the freedom to copy
a program, and distribute it to your friends and co-workers; second, the
freedom to change a program as you wish, by having full access to source
code; third, the freedom to distribute a modified version and thus help
build the community.  Free software means you can study the source and
learn how such programs are written; it means you can port it or improve
it, and then share your work with others.

If you redistribute GNU software, you may charge a distribution fee or you
may give it away, so long as you include the source code and the @i{GNU
General Public License}; see What Is Copyleft, below, for more information.

@node Support for Free Software
@unnumbered Support for Free Software

Most free software is supported by a mailing list or USENET newsgroup,
and in some cases, by the developer.  You can find out where to get help
by looking at the man page or on-line help for the software.  On many
GNU/Linux systems, you can find documentation for software packages on
your system in the @file{/usr/doc} directory.

This support is usually voluntary, and most support questions can be
answered by consulting the documentation or list of Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQ) for the software.  USENET archives can often be helpful
in finding answers to your questions, since someone has probably already
asked the same question.  By researching your problem before asking a
question, you can avoid putting more demands on the already-overworked
volunteers, who often put a lot of time into the software documentation
and FAQs.

Although peer support is voluntary, it seems to result in happier and
more loyal users than the sort of support that proprietary software
developers offer.

If you are not satisfied with the peer support you can get for free on
USENET, you may want to consult the GNU Service Directory.

The GNU Service Directory is a list of people who have asked to be
listed as offering support services for GNU software for a fee (and in
some cases, at no charge).  The GNU Service Directory may be found
on the web at @href{}.

@node What Is Copyleft
@unnumbered What Is Copyleft?

@c if we ever want to lengthen this ``What Is Copyleft?'' section, the
@c language was longer, though in some ways worse in bull11-June 91 -len
The simplest way to make a program free software is to put it in the
public domain, uncopyrighted.  But this permits proprietary modified
versions, which deny others the freedom to redistribute and modify; such
versions undermine the goal of giving freedom to @emph{all} users.  To
prevent this, @dfn{copyleft} uses copyrights in a novel manner.
Typically, copyrights take away freedoms; copyleft preserves them.  It
is a legal instrument that requires those who pass on a program to
include the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the code; the code
and the freedoms become legally inseparable.

The copyleft used by the GNU Project is made from the combination of a
regular copyright notice and the @dfn{GNU General Public License} (GPL).
The GPL is a copying license which basically says that you have the
aforementioned freedoms.  An alternate form, the @dfn{GNU Library General
Public License} (LGPL), applies to some (but not all) GNU libraries.
This license permits linking the libraries into proprietary executables
under certain conditions.  The appropriate license is included in each GNU
source code distribution and in many manuals.  Printed copies are available
upon request.

We hope you will copyleft your programs and documentation, and we have
made it as simple as possible for you to do so.  The details on how to
apply either form of GNU Public License appear at the end of each

@node What Is Linux
@unnumbered What Is Linux?

Linux is a kernel, developed by Linus Torvalds starting in 1991.  (The
kernel is the component of an operating system that is responsible for
running other programs and keeping them separate, and for reading and
writing disk files.)  Linux is free software, like GNU software, and it
provides the same functionality as the kernel of a proprietary Unix

@node What Is GNU/Linux?
@unnumbered What Is Linux?

GNU/Linux is the combination of Linux and the GNU system, modified to
work together smoothly.  This operating system is widely used today.
You may have heard people call it ``Linux,'' but Linux is actually the
kernel rather than the whole system.

GNU/Linux systems run on many platforms, including the x86 series of
Intel processors (386, 486, Pentium, and higher), Alpha, PowerPC, SPARC
(Sun), and MIPS (SGI).  They support an array of networking options,
including Ethernet, PPP, and the networking protocols supported by
proprietary operating systems, such as AppleTalk and the Windows
NT/95/98 SMB networking.  Thus, if you have not completely eliminated
your dependence on proprietary operating systems such as Windows,
GNU/Linux can interoperate with those systems.

GNU/Linux systems include a vast collection of software development
tools that come from the GNU system.  These include the GNU C and C++
compiler, as well as utilities for linking, assembling, editing, and
source code control.

Along with the development tools, GNU/Linux systems include utilities
and applications that address many aspects of the user experience: WWW
servers and WWW browsers, text editors and word processors, graphical and 
audio tools, and more.

In addition, GNU/Linux systems are famously reliable.  The GNU
utilities have been found in scientific tests to be more reliable than
proprietary counterparts, and servers running GNU/Linux 
often keep running for months on end without requiring a reboot.

@node What Is the GNU Hurd
@unnumbered What Is the GNU Hurd?

The GNU Hurd is the GNU Project's implementation of the higher-level
features of the Unix kernel.  The Hurd is a collection of servers that
run on top of a microkernel.  These servers implement file systems, network
protocols, file access control, and other features.  Currently we use
Mach as the microkernel, but we may use another microkernel if a
better choice appears.

Unlike monolithic kernels, the Hurd provides a loosely-coupled
framework for user-extensible kernel facilities.  Individual users
gain full control over their own software environment, without
compromising the security of the system or losing Unix compatibility.
Programmers will benefit from being able to write code safely and more
easily than under monolithic kernels.

The Debian GNU/Hurd project is now setting up an easy-to-install GNU
system that provides the power of the Hurd.  However, more work is
needed to make the Hurd solid enough to recommend for general use.  If
you are a programmer and you are interested in contributing to Hurd
development, please visit the GNU Hurd web page,

@node How We Distribute GNU Software
@unnumbered How We Distribute GNU Software

The FSF distributes GNU software on the Internet, and on CD-ROMs that
you can buy.  The FSF distributes GNU manuals on the Internet, in
source form, and also as printed books that you can buy.  Whatever the
medium, all our GNU software and manuals come with permission to
modify, copy, and redistribute.  CD-ROMs and printed manuals provide
much of the funds for the FSF staff to develop more free software, so
please support our work by ordering from the FSF when you can.

GNU software is not distributed exclusively by the FSF.  Because all GNU
software and publications come with permission to modify, copy, and
redistribute, you can get GNU software by copying it from someone else
who has it.

There are also third party groups who distribute our software. Please
note that the Free Software Foundation is @emph{not} affiliated with
them in any way and is @emph{not} responsible for either the currency of
their versions or the swiftness of their responses.

@node What Is the Deluxe Distribution
@unnumbered The Deluxe Distribution

Although GNU software is primarily distributed in source form, the Free
Software Foundation offers a package that provides executables for all
of our software.  The Deluxe Distribution provides binaries with the
source code and includes six T-shirts, all our CD-ROMs, printed manuals,
& reference cards.

The FSF Deluxe Distribution contains the binaries and sources to hundreds
of different programs including Emacs, the GNU C/address@hidden Compiler, the 
Debugger, the complete X Window System, and all the GNU utilities.

We will make a Deluxe Distribution for most machines/operating systems.
We may be able to send someone to your office to do the compilation, if
we can't find a suitable machine here.  However, we can only compile the
programs that already support your chosen machine/system---porting is a
separate matter.  Compiling all these programs takes time; a Deluxe
Distribution for an unusual machine will take longer to produce than one
for a common machine.  Please contact the FSF Office with any questions.

The printed documentation includes one each of @cite{Bison}, @cite{Calc},
@cite{Gawk}, @cite{GCC}, @cite{GNU C Library}, @cite{GDB},
@cite{Flex}, @cite{GNU Emacs Lisp Reference}, @cite{Programming in Emacs
Lisp: An Introduction}, @cite{Make}, @cite{Texinfo}, & @cite{Termcap}
manuals, six copies of the @cite{GNU Emacs} manual, and ten reference cards
for each of Emacs, Bison, Calc, Flex, & GDB.

Every Deluxe Distribution also includes the latest editions of
our CD-ROMs.

The sales of the Deluxe Distribution provide enormous financial
assistance to help the FSF develop more free software.

@node Free Software Redistributors Donate
@unnumbered Free Software Redistributors Donate

In the long run, the success of free software depends on how much new free
software people develop.  Distribution of free software or its
documentation offers an opportunity to raise funds for such development in
an ethical way.  Some redistributors and authors make use of the
opportunity, but many others let it go to waste.

You can help promote free software development by convincing for-a-fee
redistributors to contribute---either by doing development themselves
or by donating to development organizations (the FSF and others).

The way to convince distributors to contribute is to demand and expect
this of them.  This means choosing among distributors partly by how
much they give to free software development.  Then you can show
distributors they must compete to be the one who gives the most.

To make this work, you must insist on numbers that you can compare, such
as, ``We will give ten dollars to the Foobar project for each disk sold.''
A vague commitment, such as ``A portion of the profits is donated,''
doesn't give you a basis for comparison.  Even a precise fraction ``of the
profits from this disk'' is not very meaningful, since creative accounting
and unrelated business decisions can greatly alter what fraction of the
sales price counts as profit.

Also, press distributors for firm information about what kind of development
they do or support.  Some kinds make much more long-term difference than
others.  For example, maintaining a separate version of a GNU program
contributes very little; maintaining a program on behalf of the GNU Project
contributes much.  Easy new ports contribute little, since someone else
would surely do them; difficult ports such as adding a new CPU to the GNU
compiler or to Mach contribute more; major new features and programs
contribute the most.

If you are interested in supporting the FSF through your purchase, then
please ask the distributor whether and how much it supports the FSF.
Most redistributors of GNU software do not contribute funds to FSF, so
you cannot assume that one does.

By establishing the idea that supporting further development is ``the
proper thing to do'' when distributing free software or its documentation
for a fee, we can assure a steady flow of resources for making more free

@node Volunteer for the GNU Project
@unnumbered Volunteer for the GNU Project

There are many ways to help the GNU Project, but the most important way
is to volunteer.  You can

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