GNU is the only operating system developedspecifically to give its users freedom. What is GNU, and what freedomis at stake?

Escape to Freedom: A video from the FSF

What is GNU?

GNU is an operating system thatisfree software—that is,it respects users' freedom. The GNU operating system consists of GNUpackages (programs specifically released by the GNU Project) as wellas free software released by third parties. The development of GNUmade it possible to use a computer without software that would trampleyour freedom.

We recommendinstallableversions of GNU(more precisely, GNU/Linux distributions) whichare entirely free software.More about GNUbelow.

 [Screenshot of Dragora 3.0-beta2 with TDE desktop] 

Dragora / TDE

 [Screenshot of Guix 0.15 with GNOME 3 desktop] 

Guix / GNOME3

 [Screenshot of Hyperbola 0.3 with i3 window manager] 

Hyperbola / i3

 [Screenshot of Parabola 2020 with LXDE desktop] 

Parabola / LXDE

 [Screenshot of PureOS 8 with GNOME 3 desktop] 


 [Screenshot of Trisquel 10 with MATE desktop] 

Trisquel / MATE

What is the Free Software Movement?

The free software movement campaigns to win for the users ofcomputing the freedom that comes from free software. Free softwareputs its users in control of their own computing. Nonfree softwareputs its users under the power of the software's developer. Seethe video explanation.

What is Free Software?

Free software means the users have the freedom to run,copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand theconcept, you should think of “free” as in “freespeech,” not as in “free beer.”

More precisely, free software means users of a program havethefour essentialfreedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish,for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so itdoes your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the sourcecode is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others(freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versionsto others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the wholecommunity a chance to benefit from your changes.Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Developments in technology and network use have made these freedomseven moreimportant nowthan they were in 1983.

Nowadays the free software movement goes far beyond developing theGNU system. Seethe Free SoftwareFoundation's web sitefor more about what we do, and a listofways you can help.

More about GNU

GNUis a Unix-like operating system. Thatmeans it is a collection of many programs: applications, libraries,developer tools, even games. The development of GNU, started inJanuary 1984, is known as the GNU Project. Many of the programs inGNU are released under the auspices of the GNU Project; those wecallGNU packages.

The name “GNU” is a recursive acronym for “GNU'sNotUnix.”“GNU”is pronouncedg'noo, as one syllable, like saying“grew” but replacing therwithn.

The program in a Unix-like system that allocates machine resourcesand talks to the hardware is called the “kernel.” GNU istypically used with a kernel called Linux. This combination istheGNU/Linux operatingsystem. GNU/Linux is used by millions, thoughmanycall it “Linux” bymistake.

GNU's own kernel, theGNU Hurd,was started in 1990 (before Linux was started). Volunteers continuedeveloping the Hurd because it is an interesting technicalproject.

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