GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 6, January, 1989

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GNU's Who

Randy Smith has joined us as a full-time programmer. He is currently maintaining and extending GDB. Our summer people, Pete TerMaat, Phil Nelson, and Mike Haertel, have returned to school--to study or to teach. Pete worked on GDB, Phil on the GNU versions of `cpio' and `dbm', and Mike, who continues to work for us part time, on `diff', `egrep' and `sort'.

Joe Arceneaux spent a couple of weeks with us this fall making Emacs version 19 work with X windows version 11.

Nobuyuki and Mieko Hikichi continue with us on loan from Software Research Associates in Tokyo. At FSF, Nobu is extending GDB with a C interpreter that he is writing. Mieko is helping user-test GNU documentation and is translating some of it into Japanese. Diane Barlow Close, our first full-time technical writer, is writing the documentation for all of the small Unix utilities that have been completed for us, while living in San Diego, CA.

Meanwhile, Brian Fox is still working for us at UC Santa Barbara. He recently completed GNU's version of `sh', the `Bourne Again Shell', that incorporates features found in the Korn and C shells. Jay Fenlason is writing a spreadsheet program for the project and maintaining the GNU assembler, `tar', and `sed'.

Opus Goldstein is our jack-of-all-trades office staff. If you call our office, she is the one who answers. She fills the orders, and handles the day-to-day operations of the Foundation. Robert Chassell is our Treasurer. Besides dealing with corporate issues not related to programming, he is working on an elementary introduction to programming in Emacs Lisp.

Richard Stallman continues to do countless tasks, including refining the C compiler, GNU Emacs, etc. and their documentation. Paul Rubin is writing a graphic editing extension for GNU Emacs. Finally, Len Tower continues as our electronic JOAT (jack-of-all-trades), handling mailing lists, information requests, system mothering et al.

GNU's Bulletin

Copyright (C) 1989 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Written by: Randy Smith, Paul Rubin, Robert Chassell,
Leonard H. Tower Jr., Richard Stallman and Opus Goldstein

Illustrations: Etienne Suvasa

Permission is granted to anyone to make or distribute verbatim copies of this document as received, in any medium, provided that the copyright notice and permission notice are preserved, and that the distributor grants the recipient permission for further redistribution as permitted by this notice.

What Is the Free Software Foundation?

The Free Software Foundation is dedicated to eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, understanding and modification of computer programs. We do this by promoting the development and use of free software in all areas of computer use. Specifically, we are putting together a complete integrated software system called "GNU" (GNU's Not Unix) that will be upward compatible with Unix. Some large parts of this system are already working and we are distributing them now.

The word "free" in our name refers to two specific freedoms: first, the freedom to copy a program and give it away to your friends and co-workers; second, the freedom to change a program as you wish, by having full access to source code. Furthermore, you can study the source and learn how such programs are written. You may then be able to port it, improve it, and share your changes with others.

Other organizations distribute whatever free software happens to be available. By contrast, FSF concentrates on development of new free software, building toward a GNU system complete enough to eliminate the need to purchase a proprietary system.

Besides developing GNU, the Foundation has secondary functions: producing tapes and printed manuals of GNU software, carrying out distribution, and accepting gifts to support GNU development. We are tax exempt; you can deduct donations to us on your tax returns. Our development effort is funded partly from donations and partly from distribution fees. Note that the distribution fees purchase just the service of distribution: you never have to pay anyone license fees to use GNU software, and you always have the freedom to make your copy from a friend's computer at no charge (provided your friend is willing).

The Foundation also maintains a Service Directory: a list of people who offer service for pay to individual users of GNU programs and systems. Service can mean answering questions for new users, customizing programs, porting to new systems, or anything else. Contact us if you want to be listed.

After we create our programs, we continually update and improve them. We release between 2 and 20 updates a year, for various programs. Doing this while developing new programs takes a lot of work, so any donations of pertinent source code and documentation, machines, labor or money are always appreciated.

What Is Copyleft?

In the article "What Is the Free Software Foundation," we state that "you never have to pay anyone license fees to use GNU software, and you always have the freedom to make your copy from a friend's computer at no charge." What exactly do we mean by this, and how do we make sure that it stays true?

The simplest way to make a program free is to put it in the public domain. Then people who get it from sharers can share it with others. But bad citizens can also do what they like to do: sell binary-only versions under typical don't-share-with-your-neighbor licenses. They would thus enjoy the benefits of the freeness of the original program while withholding these benefits from the users. It could easily come about that most users get the program this way, and our goal of making the program free for all users would have been undermined.

To prevent this from happening, we don't normally place GNU programs in the public domain. Instead, we protect them by what we call copylefts. A copyleft is a legal instrument that makes everybody free to copy a program as long as the person getting the copy gets with it the freedom to distribute further copies, and the freedom to modify their copy (which means that they must get access to the source code). Typical software companies use copyrights to take away these freedoms; now we software sharers use copylefts to preserve these freedoms.

The copyleft used by the GNU project is made from a combination of a copyright notice and the GNU General Public License. The copyright notice is the usual kind. The General Public License is a copying license which basically says that you have the freedoms we want you to have and that you can't take these freedoms away from anyone else. (The actual document consists of several pages of rather complicated legalbol that our lawyer said we needed.) A copy of the complete license is included in all GNU source code distributions and many manuals, and we will send you a printed copy on request.

GNU in Japan

by Mieko Hikichi

The GNU Project was described in a seminar at the Unix Fair in Tokyo last December This seminar was the first official introduction of GNU in Japan.

I had translated the GNU's Bulletin into Japanese and 500 copies were distributed. Mr. Yoshitaka Tokugawa talked about what is GNU, how to get GNU software and about the GNU license. This was followed by a talk about the Japanese version of GNU Emacs by Mr. Handa Ken'ichi.

The General Public License as a Subroutine

We are about to make a sweeping, revolutionary change in the General Public License. The terms for copying will be essentially unchanged, but the architecture of the legalbol framework used to embody them will make a quantum leap.

In the past, each copylefted program had to have its own copy of the General Public License contained in it. Often it was necessary to modify the license to mention the name of the program it applied to. Other people who wanted to copyleft programs had to modify the text even more, to replace our name with theirs.

To make it easier to copyleft programs, we have been improving on the legalbol architecture of the General Public License to produce a new version that serves as a general-purpose subroutine: it can apply to any program without modification, no matter who is publishing it. All that's needed is a brief notice in the program itself, to say that the General Public License applies. Directions on doing this accompany the General Public License, so you can easily copyleft your programs.

We've also taken the opportunity to make it explicit that any subsequent changes in future versions the General Public License cannot take away the rights you were previously given, if you have a program that you received under an earlier version.

The new version will appear soon; new GNU programs and new versions of existing GNU software will refer to it to specify their copying conditions.

GNUsworthy Flashes

GNU Wish List

Wishes for this issue are for:

My Thoughts on the GNU License

by Doug Lea

[This article is reproduced from a posting to the info-g++ and info-gcc mailing lists and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Free Software Foundation.--- Editor]

I have not participated publicly in the recent discussions about the legal ramifications of the GNU License Agreement until now because (1) I am not a lawyer and (2) I find myself in agreement with Stallman's decision to proceed very carefully in deciding whether and how to modify the Agreement to accommodate people who would like to sell works that may or may not be considered as `derived' from GNU software, depending on what `derived' is defined to mean.

However, the recent proposal by Gilmore and others appears to demand a personal response from me (not RMS or FSF) as the author of most of GNU `libg++'. I would like to briefly outline why I support FSF goals, and specifically, the Agreement, in a way that bears only indirectly on legal principles.

I am, primarily, a teacher in a liberal arts college. As such, I stand for the `free' dissemination of ideas. Historically, (please forgive any botching of historical facts to suit my needs, but that's what history is for!) the main tool by which intellectual property has been allowed to be widely disseminated (read `taught') while at the same time both crediting originators, and protecting the works from corruption, mis--attribution, and so on, has been the notion of Copyright. For these reasons, the introduction of copyright laws is widely considered to have been an important step in accelerating intellectual and scientific progress.

Sadly, in the science of computing, this solution has not stood up well. While, in many disciplines, the price of a copyrighted work to be used for study is well within the reach of those who could best benefit from it (e.g., a copy of "War and Peace" might be $5, or even $50, but not $50,000), the economics of computing have, for the most part, priced copyrighted software out of the reach of students (and most others). Most readers would agree that the study of high-quality existing programs is among the better methods for learning about the art of programming. These days, one cannot legally show, discuss, and teach from, say, Unix or Lotus source code.

I believe that Stallman's notion that the economics of copyright can be separated from its role in the protection and propagation of intellectual property is as good a solution to this dilemma as we are likely to get. There are many of us, especially those of us in academe, who are actually very pleased to devote some time and effort to writing software without any direct monetyary compensation. For all sorts of reasons. (For example, in my case, with `libg++', as a means to further investigate the pragmatics of object-oriented programming and so on. Or maybe it's just incorrigible hacking. Whatever. )

Now I, and many others, I suspect, are not terribly worried about maintaining proper authorship credit, etc., of such work. The reason that the GNU License Agreement is attractive is mainly that it keeps accessible the work that I intended to be accessible, but also generally offers all other benefits that Copyright engenders, but that the mere act of placing work in the `public domain' would not.

It is an unfortunate fact that the GNU Agreement currently stands in the way of such work being used in honest ways by honest programmers who do have to worry about the economic ramifications. I personally hope that exactly the right accommodations are made to allow fair and sensible use while maintaining the ideals that make the GNU solution work. There are many sticky legalistic points involved in doing so. I do hope that Stallman is able to find such a solution soon enough to make alternative approaches less attractive, but not so hastily as to compromise the goals of FSF (which I am sure he will not do).

GNU Documentation

Software distributed as part of the GNU system always comes with sources for both on-line documentation and printable manuals. On-line documentation is provided because printed documentation is often misplaced or is being read by someone else when you want it; and because, in many situations, it is easier to find the piece of information that you need in an interactive on-line help system. At the same time, printed documentation is provided because it is often easier to read or preferred.

When GNU documentation is printed, it is produced as a typeset book with chapters, indices, cross references and the like. The on-line documentation is a menu-driven system which also uses indices and cross references.

However, instead of writing two different documents, one for the on-line documentation and the other for the printed manual, GNU documentation uses a single Texinfo source file for both purposes. This saves the effort of writing two different documents and means that when the system is revised, only one source file has to be revised.

Since the single Texinfo source file is used for a dual task--to create both the on-line documentation and the printed manual--it must be written in a special format so that the chapters and sections of the printed manual will correspond to the nodes of the on-line documentation and the indices and cross references will correspond to various menus.

To make the printed manual, the Texinfo source file is processed through the TeX typesetting program. To make the on-line documentation, using GNU Emacs, the Texinfo source file is processed with the M-x texinfo-format-buffer command; the resulting Info file is installed in the `info' directory which you reach by typing C-h i.

(Non-GNU software distributed by the Free Software Foundation does not always have Texinfo documentation, although we encourage everyone to document with it.)

All of the following manuals, which we are currently distributing on our tapes, are also available in hardcopy from the Foundation; see the order form on the inside back cover.

GNU Project Status Report

GNU "Clip Art" Contest

We are looking for freely redistributable art work and graphics to enhance our publications. The art should be about the GNU Project or the free software movement. We offer a GNU Manual of the artist choice, for each piece of art work which we publish. Ghostscript source or more traditional media welcome. Send submissions to one of the addresses on the front cover. Our thanks to the Icon Project at the University of Arizona for the idea of running this contest.

GNU Software Available Now

We now offer three Unix software source distribution tapes, plus VMS tapes for GNU Emacs and GNU C that include sources and VMS executables. The first Unix tape (called the "Release" or "Emacs" tape) contains GNU Emacs as well as various other well-tested programs that we consider reliable. The second ("Beta test" or "Compiler") tape contains the GNU C compiler and related utilities, and other new programs that are less thoroughly tested. The third ("X11") tape contains the X11 distribution from the MIT X consortium. Until recently, this software had been provided on the Beta test tape, but the third release of the X11 distribution is too big to fit on this tape. See the order form for details about media, etc.

Contents of Release tape

Contents of Beta Test Tape

The programs on this tape are all recent releases and can be considered to be at various stages of user testing. As always, we solicit your comments and bug reports. This tape is also known as the Compiler tape.

Contents of X11 Tape.

X is a portable, network transparent window system for bitmap displays written at MIT and DEC. It runs Sun, DEC VAXstation, and various other current bitmap displays. X supports overlapping windows and fully recursive subwindows, and provides hooks for several different styles of user interface. Applications include a terminal emulator, bitmap editor, several window managers, clock, window dump and undump programs, and several typesetting previewers.

The X11 tape contains Version 11, Release 3 of the MIT/DEC X window system. X11 is more powerful than, but incompatible with, the no-longer-supported version 10. MIT no longer labels Version 11 `beta test' but is still releasing frequent patches and updates.

VMS Emacs and Compiler Tapes

We offer a VMS backup tape of the GNU Emacs editor, and a separate tape containing the beta-test GNU C compiler. The VMS compiler tape also contains Bison (needed to compile GCC), GAS (needed to assemble GCC's output) and some library and include files. Both VMS tapes include executables that you can bootstrap from.

How To Get GNU Software

All the software and publications from the Free Software Foundation are distributed with permission to copy and redistribute. The easiest way to get a copy of GNU software is from someone else who has it. Just copy it from them.

If you have access to the Internet, you can get the latest software from the host `'. For more information, read the file `/u2/emacs/GETTING.GNU.SOFTWARE' on that host.

If you cannot get the software from a friend or over the net, or if you would feel more confident getting copies straight from us, or if you would like to contribute some funds to our efforts, the Free Software Foundation distributes tapes for a copying and distribution fee. See the order form on the inside back cover.

If you do not have net access, and your computers cannot use the media we distribute on, you must get our software from third party groups--people and organizations that do not work with us, but have our software in other forms. For your convenience, other groups that are helping to spread GNU software are listed below. Please note that the Free Software Foundation is not affiliated with them in any way, and is not responsible for either the currency of their versions or the swiftness of their responses.

These Internet sites have some GNU programs available for anonymous FTP:,,,,,, (under `PD:<Unix.GNU>'),
and (VMS GNU Emacs).

Those on the SPAN network can ask rdss::corbet.

Information on how to obtain some GNU programs using UUCP is available via electronic mail from:

hao!scicom!qetzal!upba!ugn!nepa!denny, arnold@skeeve.UUCP,
uunet!hutch!barber, hqda-ai!merlin, acornrc!bob,
ames!killer!wisner, mit-eddie!bloom-beacon!ht!spt!gz, 
sun!nosun!illian!darylm, or

Ohio State also makes GNU programs available via UUCP. They post their instructions monthly to newsgroup comp.sources.d on USENET. Current details from Karl Kleinpaste or ...!osu-cis!karl; or Bob Sutterfield (substitute bob for karl in the above addresses).

Information on obtaining floppy disks of GNU Emacs for the AT&T Unix PC (aka 3B1 or PC7300) is available via electronic mail from:

Thank GNUs

Thanks to all those mentioned in GNUsworthy Flashes and the GNU Project Status Report.

Thanks to Hewlett-Packard for their very large cash donation and two Spectrum workstations.

Thanks to the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, and its director, Professor Michael Dertouzos. LCS has provided FSF with the loan of a Microvax for program development.

Thanks to the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for invaluable assistance of many kinds.

Thanks to Dr. T. Smith, Dave Probert, and the CS Department at UCSB for giving GNU staffer Brian Fox resources and space, and special personal thanks from Brian to Matt Wette for invaluable aid and support.

Thanks to Brewster Kahle of Thinking Machines, Inc. for the loan of a Sun 4/110.

Thanks to K. Richard Magill for his donation of an AT&T Unix PC.

Thanks to Arnold Robbins and Dave Trueman for their work on GAWK and the GAWK manual.

Thanks to Barry Kleinman and Andre Mesarovic of Index Technology for copying Sun cartridge tapes and to Mark Nahabedian of Phoenix Technologies Ltd. for copying Sun cartridge tapes at the 11th hour.

Thanks to John Klensin of the INFOODS Project at MIT for making our VMS master tapes.

Thanks to Sony Corp. and to Software Research Associates, Inc., both of Tokyo, for sending us Sony workstations. SRA has also given us a cash donation and lent us a full-time staff programmer and a technical writer.

Thanks to NeXT, Inc., for their cash donation.

Thanks to the Mach Project in the Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, for lending us a Sun 3/60 and 300 MB disk drive.

Thanks to all those who have contributed ports and extensions, as well as those who have contributed other source code, documentation, and good bug reports.

Thanks to those who sent money and offered help. Thanks also to those who support us by ordering Emacs manuals and distribution tapes.

The creation of this bulletin is our way of thanking all who have expressed interest in what we are doing.

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