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FSF was 30 at weekend

The weekend just gone saw another anniversary that ought not be forgotten: the Free Software Foundation (FSF) passed the 30 years milestone.

Richard StallmanGerman IT news website heise reports that the FSF was founded by Richard Stallman (aka rms. Ed.) on 4th October 1985.

At that time the organisation’s goal was fully consistent with the then Unix hacker culture, i.e. promoting the free exchange of computer software and information, distribution of computer software and information and easier access to computers for all.

One year previously Stallman had already founded the GNU Project. GNU was to be a free operating system compatible with Unix, which had already lost its open source roots by the late 1970s and had become a commercial product. In parallel with the decline of Unix, the success of GNU/Linux (Stallman’s GNU system with Linus Torvalds’ Linux kernel) shows how correct Stallman’s vision then was.

For John Sullivan, the FSF’s Executive Director, the greatest current danger lies in the increasing computerisation of our environment. PCs, laptops and Server have in the meantime been made able to run on free software. However, it’s a different matter for the innumerable embedded systems out there – from car onboard computers to smartwatches; these are not under the user’s control although they are nevertheless performing important tasks. He sees a further danger in proprietary services from Facebook via Salesforce, as well as from Google Docs, which also removes control from users over the whereabouts of their data.

The FSF is currently concentrating on explaining to the public the importance of free software, supporting free software projects, various campaigns such as the “Defective by Design” anti-DRM campaign, the enforcement of free software licences and promoting free hardware.