Lets talk little about Linux History:
Linux has its roots in the Unix operating system. Now Unix was developed in late 1960s by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. They originally designed the operating system to be something radically different than what had being used in those times.
It was presented to their peers, and it caught on really quick. Problem was AT&T was being scrutinized by the government this time for being monopoly. The lawyers were really afraid to jump into yet another area outside of the communications world. So they didn’t allow UNIX to be sold for little while. It was however allowed to be released as a demo or testing or development environment. Under these guys, that actually gained support in academic institutions like Berkeley university, California. Well about 10 years later, people started using in many ways. AT&T realised that theirs lot of money in this. And AT&T started Licensing it.
In 1979, AT&T introduce their Unix License, even for now its pretty expensive
Educational Institutes: 1 CPU = 7500 dollars (It was licensed on per CPU basis)
Commercial Institutes :1 CPU = 60,000 dollars
This licensing caused lot problems. specific with two people, one of them was Richard Stallman. Prior to Unix licensing, the source code was freely available and customizable. Richard Stallman cant bear with this licensing, and moved out to develop FSF and the GNU Project In this Unit, We gonna talk about Free Software Foundation and its role in the development of the Linux operating system or you could say GNU/Linux operating system. In 1984, Richard Stallman the founder of Free Software Foundation, founded the FSF after leaving the Artificial Intelligence laboratory at MIT University. The entire premise of the FSF is to make software freely available, redistributable, modifiable, studiable, copyable, everything you can think of possible to society, and the reason is the following i.e software at the time and still today is developed at
proprietary fashion as u can see the Microsoft Windows environment. We arent able to view the source code of softwares found on WINDOWS. As a result we are unable to learn and redistribute or modify the copy etc.
So FSF set off to essentially create a UNIX that was free and pet project that known as GNU.
GNU is major project of FSF which was founded in 1984 by Richard Stallman. In addition you should also know that Richard Stallman developed the emacs editor which is commonly used in UNIX/LInux environment.X enhancements for EMACS has been developed by other people as well.
The Linux systems properly referenced to as GNU/Linux Systems Open terminal, launches bash environment now this has been built by FSF under GNU project. Apart from this, some of the basic Linux commands like cp, mv have been developed under GNU project.
GNU project also has GPL or General Public licenses which is governing document for all free software that it protects. It also follows the Copy left methodology or copy left notion instead of copy right. Copyleft says that anyone who redistributes the software, with or without changes, must pass along the freedom to further copy and change it It says that you can redistribute, modify or make changes to existing software’s protected by the GPL providing that you wont make it proprietary.
So if you’ll make any changes to any software’s protected by GPL, you need to redistribute the changes back to the project or back to the community so others may benefit , modify or study, redistribute. In other words, GPL provides a framework for keeping software free, so that it doesn’t becomes proprietary. And this is all the brain work of Richard StallMan in 1984, as a result of instituting FSF, Massachusetts which creates GNU project which protects GPL.
Another Person reacted dramatically was Andrew Tanenbaum, Professor. He used Unix for teaching C programming. he created a UNIX clone called Minix. Minix was really cool and was having lot of followers, the source code was open and available however there was a limitation on the source code, unlike the GNU project where the source code is freely available. Minix you could look at the source code but you couldn’t use it. This caused discomfort for many of the peoples including Linus Torvalds
Linus Torvalds trademark the term “Linux” and the operating system seems to be attributed to him or most to his credits. You must know this that Majority of Linux Distro contains software directly from GNU (from FSF). Because of the contents, its been called as GNU/Linux. Linux kernel is been developed by Linus Torvalds. GNU project is been working in developing their own kernel i.e HERD. and one of the distro Mandrake is planning to go for GNU’s kernel HERD in the near future GNU project allows software to be free and remain free and protected by the GPL. You can go through the site, learn more about the Project functions or how it operates
GCC (C compiler) is used for creating applications or binaries in our system is created by GNU. In our Linux world we tend to get source or the sources of application. In order to use those sources in our system, we need to compile it to binary format. GCC provides the utility necessary for compiling from source “C” to binary “C” for particular architect. GCC is freely available, while the other C compilers can go through a thousands of dollars. This is a great accomplishment of FSF.
You got to know the importance of GNU and FSF in bringing UNIX like capabilities to PC platform to the masses. As PC is available run away, so to create ubiquitous UNIX for masses its a great achievement. Before Unix lookalike was restricted to only select clients enterprise or universities, GNU now in the hands of average person.They could use this GNU/Linux System to create free software’s for the man kind.
So whenever you’ll get a time visit www.gnu.org, do some research on copy left and educate yourself on GNU project.