Richard M Stallman inside Muktware office for an interview.

GNU is three decades old, happy birdthday!

Happy 30th birthday GNU! On September 27, 1983 Richard M Stallman (aka RMS) announced a very ambitious plan to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU as a replacement of proprietary (closed source or non-free) UNIX systems. The name GNU was a recursive acronym meaning GNU is not UNIX. GNU was intended as free software – free as in beer as well as in freedom.

Explaining why he must write GNU he said, “I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement.

So that I can continue to use computers without violating my principles, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free.”

Ironically, unlike many other technologies or concepts of that time (it’s been 30 years) GNU is today much more important than it was in 1983. The computer users are fast losing the control over their data, communication and computing. Governments are trying very very hard to spy on their own people.

GNU, and the concepts of free software, seems to be the only saviour because it empowers a user to control her data, information, privacy and computing.

GNU is actually dominating the world thanks to the kernel Linux, written by Linus Torvalds. Companies like Red Hat are churning out more than billion dollars in revenues purely on the basis of free software, GNU and Linux. Almost every big company out there is using GNU in one way or the other – whether it’s infamous Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Amazon. Even Apple uses a lot of GNU GPL software (though unlike Microsoft, Apple uses a lot of free software).

There are many open source projects out there, but none comes closer to GNU when it comes to ensure that it’s the user who is in control.

Long live GNU!

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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