(Free Software Foundation, Inc., Boston, MA, www.gnu.org) A non-profit organization founded in 1985 by Richard Stallman, dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying and modifying programs by promoting the development and use of freely redistributable software. It oversees the development of software for its GNU computing environment and provides online and CD-ROM distribution of GNU and other programs. See free software, GNU Manifesto, GNU, GNU/Linux and League for Programming Freedom.
Started by Richard Stallman, an elite hacker who was at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab at MIT in the early 1970s. The FSF promotes the concept of free software—which pertains to the users’ freedom to change and improve, copy, distribute, run, or study the software. Specifically, “free” applies to four types of freedom for users of the software: (1) to run the program for any function; (2) to investigate how the software works and adapt it to one’s own needs—with access to the source code being a precondition; (3) to give copies to other users; and (4) to improve the software and release improvements to the community so that the community can benefit—with access to the source code being a precondition. Free Software Foundation, Inc. The Free Software Definition. [Online, August 4, 2004.]