GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 7, June, 1989
Table of Contents
This page is blank so the numbering come out right.
Some new people have joined our full-time staff. Joseph Arceneaux
is working on Emacs version 19. Soon to arrive are Karl Berry,
Kathy Hargreaves, and Jim Kingdon. Randy Smith, who has
been working on GDB, will be leaving us for grad school in the fall.
Mike Haertel is back with us, working on a new, more efficient
malloc and on finishing the C interpreter started by Nobuyuki Hikichi.
Roland McGrath has been hired for the summer to complete the ANSI C
library which he started.
Brian Fox is still working for us at UC Santa Barbara. He is
beta-releasing BASH, the `Bourne Again SHell' which is the GNU version
sh that incorporates extensions found in the Korn and C
shells. Jay Fenlason is writing the GNU spreadsheet program Oleo,
and maintaining the GNU assembler,
sed. Jay also
takes care of our backups and creating distribution tapes. 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.
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 foundation issues not
related to programming, he is working on an elementary introduction to
programming in Emacs Lisp.
Richard Stallman continues as a volunteer to do countless tasks,
including refining the C compiler, GNU Emacs, etc. and their
documentation. Finally, volunteer Len Tower continues as our
electronic JOAT (jack-of-all-trades), handling mailing lists,
information requests, system mothering, etc.
Copyright (C) 1989 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Written by: Joseph Arceneaux, Robert Chassell, John Gilmore,
H. Tower Jr., and Richard Stallman
Illustrations: Etienne Suvasa
This page is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
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 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 each program. 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
The board of the Foundation is: Richard Stallman, President; Robert
Chassell, Treasurer; Gerald J. Sussman, Harold Abelson and Leonard H.
Tower Jr., Directors.
What Is Copyleft?
In the section entitled "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.) The complete
license is included in all GNU source code distributions and many
manuals, and we will send you a printed copy on request.
Recently the Foundation made a dramatic change in the General Public
License. The terms for copying remain unchanged, but the structure of
the license is different, and it is now easier to copyleft programs.
The License is now essentially a subroutine, and programs need only
state that the General Public License applies to them. Specifics on
using the License now accompany it, so refer there for details.
"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we
should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of
We have received a surprise donation of $100,000 from an English person
who wishes to remain anonymous. This, plus the $100,000 we have just
received from Hewlettf-Packard, and the $25,000 we have received from
the Open Software Foundation, has enabled us to hire several new
New Version of RCS Distributed with Compiler
We are now distributing the latest version (V4 from Purdue) of RCS, the
Revision Control System.
BASH Now Available
Brian Fox has just released the `Bourne Again SHell' for Beta testing.
GNU Emacs Lisp Manual
The GNU Emacs Lisp Reference manual should be published this summer.
We now have an improved
qsort which is faster than Berkeley's and
is also reentrant. It will be released in the future with the GNU C
gdbm library is about to be tested. A
gdbm data base
consists of one file with no large holes.
gdbm supports fancy
automatic crash recovery and interlocking. It handles keys and data of
File Manipulation Utilities
A collection of utilities for file manipulation, including
cmp will be released soon.
GPC: GNU Pascal Compiler
Some volunteers from Helsinki University of Technology are now working
on a Pascal front-end for GCC. Currently they support a subset of the
Some Parts of BSD are Becoming Free
Berkeley has now released those parts of their Unix system not
containing AT&T code, including the TCP/IP code. The files freed in the
4.3 BSD-Tahoe distribution are now on our beta test tape.
Also, the next release of Berkeley Unix may contain Make, AWK, and
sh from the GNU Project. Berkeley will also be distributing GCC
in place of their PCC-based compiler.
NeXT, Inc. Using GCC as Production Compiler
NeXT uses GCC to compile their entire system, including their kernel.
Distribution of 80386 Floppies Happening Soon
This will probably take two forms, via 1.2 megabyte diskettes and
through an electronic BBS. It's possible that the newly reactivated
Programming Language SIG of the Boston Computer Society will be one of
the major routes of distribution.
Programming Freedom Activism
by Richard Stallman
"To benefit by the discoveries of his fellowmen is thus not only a
natural right, it is also the natural duty which every man owes to
himself and to society; and the mutual, universal progress thence
resulting is the fulfillment of the earthy destiny of the human race."
-Robinson, "Treatise on the Law of Patents."
Interface Copyright Battle Gaining Speed
The battle against user interface copyrighting is gathering momentum.
GNU founder Richard Stallman joined MIT professors Gerald J. Sussman and
Marvin Minsky in placing an ad in The Tech, MIT's student newspaper,
warning of the harm that such monopolies could do to computer users and
the computer industry. Here is the text of the ad:
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS, WATCH OUT!
Apple and Lotus are trying to create a new form of legal monopoly: a
copyright on a class of user interfaces. These monopolies would cause
serious problems for users and developers of computer software and
Until two years ago, the law seemed clear: no one could restrict others
from using a user interface; programmers were free to implement any
interface they chose. Imitating interfaces, sometimes with changes, was
standard practice in the computer field. The interfaces we know evolved
gradually in this way; for example, the Macintosh user interface was
developed over fifteen years at Stanford, SRI, Xerox and other places.
Hundreds of students and researchers contributed to this effort, and no
one has a right to own it all now.
Most computer companies, and nearly all computer users, are happy with
this state of affairs. Lotus and Apple say it does not offer "enough
incentive" to develop their products, but they must have considered it
"enough" when they made their decision to do so. It seems they are
not satisfied with the opportunity to continue to compete in the
marketplace--not even with a head start.
If Lotus and Apple are permitted to make law through the courts, the
precedent will hobble the software industry:
Gratuitous incompatibilities will burden users. Imagine if each car
manufacturer had to arrange the pedals in a different order.
Software will become and remain more expensive. Users will be "locked
in" to proprietary interfaces, for which there is no real competition.
Large companies have an unfair advantage wherever lawsuits become
commonplace. Since they can easily afford to sue, they can intimidate
small companies with threats even when they don't really have a case.
User interface improvements will come slower, since incremental
evolution through creative imitation will no longer be permitted.
Even Apple and Lotus will find it harder to make improvements if they
can no longer adapt the good ideas that others introduce, for fear of
weakening their own legal positions. Some users suggest that this
stagnation may already have started.
Express your opinion! Reconsider your plans! You can make a
This is a paid political advertisement, sponsored by
Marvin Minsky, Richard Stallman, Gerald J. Sussman
KEEP THEIR LAWYERS OFF OUR COMPUTERS!
Reporters from the Boston Globe and Computer Reseller News saw the ad
and then published articles in their papers. Followups to the Globe
article then appeared in Computerworld and InfoWorld. The InfoWorld
article was seen by a public relations agent who is donating time to
help fight the user interface copyright. Additionally, several lawyers
have asked for our help to find useful expert witnesses.
On Wednesday, May 24th the League for Programming Freedom picketed Lotus
Development Corporation in Cambridge. Despite a heavy threat of rain,
some 200 people showed up for the demonstration carrying signs and
handing out flyers. Attendees included Bryan S. Kocher, President of
the ACM, and Patrick Winston, head of MIT's AI Lab. The protest was led
by FSF founder Richard Stallman.
If you would like to help fight for the freedom to write programs, you
can do so by joining and working for the League for Programming Freedom.
Since the League is still being organized, it does not have an address
of its own. For the moment, you may phone or write to the League in
care of the Free Software Foundation. Note, however, that the League
will be an entirely separate organization from the Foundation with
different agendas and personnel. The League will be exclusively devoted
to fighting monopolistic attempts to limit the freedom of programmers to
Dangerous Legislation Proposed
Legislation has been proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch to prohibit the
lending and rental of software by anyone, including private
individuals. Similar legislation has been considered for musical
recordings. Such legislation would be an aggressive attack on the
traditional freedom to borrow and lend. Libraries could eventually be
forced into oblivion if they begin limiting their contents to media
which become obsolete.
Hatch and other supporters of this bill reason that software publishers
are losing much money because people only borrow the software to make
copies. Libraries that lend software say this is untrue, but even if it
were, this would be insufficient reason for such an attack on our
liberties. There is essentially no resistance on Capitol Hill to this
legislation; the software publishers have been very outspoken in their
position, but there has been little or no effort made to explain the
interests of users.
The only resistance to this proposal has been from the American Library
Association, who have obtained language in the bill which would exempt
libraries from this legislation for a three year test period. It seems
likely, however, that software publishers will only continue complaining
about "lost" profits and at the end of the test period even libraries
will be prohibited from lending software.
Regaining these rights will be much more difficult than making an effort
to preserve them now. Please help alarm people about this problem.
Write to Senator Hatch and Representative Dennis DeConcini as well as
your own legislators and ask them to vote against bill S.198, the
Computer Software Rental Amendments Act. A sufficient address is:
Senator So and So Representative Such and Such
United States Senate U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20515
You can also phone senators and representatives at (202) 225-3121, or
look in your phone directory for their local offices.
Common Knowledge's Universal Index
There is also an international group called Common Knowledge working to
compile public domain, copyright free and machine-readable information.
The group, consisting of journalists, scientists, librarians and others,
is amassing a database of non-copyrighted information which they call
the "Universal Index". They are doing this to provide an alternative
to the information merchants, who are increasingly successful at
reducing the amount of material available to traditional libraries.
Their address is:
Common Knowledge, Jefferson, MD 21755, USA, Phone: (301) 695--3100
GNU Wish List
Wishes for this issue are for:
Someone skilled in compiler maintenance who could take over GCC
maintenance for RMS. This would probably be be a full-time job.
Volunteers to help write utilities and documentation. Among others, we
need manuals for X-Windows and the C Library.
Professors who might be interested in sponsoring or hosting research
assistants to do GNU development, with full or partial FSF support.
Fonts. We are looking for Ghostscript format fonts.
Speech generation and character recognition software (if the devices
aren't too weird), hopefully with the device drivers. This would help
at least one partially disabled programmer we know to be productive.
Grammar checking software for English or other natural languages.
Copies of newspaper and journal articles mentioning the GNU Project.
Send these to the addresses on the front cover, or send a citation to
Money, as always. Please remember, donations are tax-deductible. With
the latest donations, we have been able to expand our staff.
One way to give us a small amount of money is to order a distribution
tape or two. This may not count as a donation for tax purposes, but it
can qualify as a business expense.
Porting BSD Unix Through the GCC
by John Gilmore
I have ported the University of California at Berkeley's latest Unix
sources through the GNU C Compiler. In the process, I made Berkeley
Unix more compatible with the draft ANSI C standard, made many programs
less machine-dependent and less compiler-dependent, and tested GCC.
Berkeley Unix has set the standard for high powered Unix systems for
many years, and continues to offer an improved alternative to AT&T Unix
releases. However, Berkeley's C compiler is based on an old version of
PCC, the Portable C Compiler from AT&T. By merging GCC into the
Berkeley release, we provided ANSI C compatibility, better optimization,
and improved compiler maintenance. The GNU project gained an important
test case for GCC, and a strong collaborator in the free software
The project was conceived by John Gilmore, and aided by Keith Bostic and
Mike Karels of Berkeley, and Richard Stallman of FSF. I did most of the
actual porting, while Keith and Mike provided machine resources,
collaborated on major decisions, and arbitrated the style and content of
the changes to Unix. Richard provided quick turnaround on compiler bug
fixes and problem solving.
We are producing a Unix source tree which can be compiled by both the
old and the new compilers. Rather than introducing new
we are rewriting the code so that it does not depend on the features of
either compiler. Whenever we have to make a change, we are moving in
the direction of ANSI C, POSIX compatibility, and machine independence.
We have used GCC releases 1.15 through 1.35. I did four complete
"passes" over the Unix source tree; each involved running "make
clean; make" on the entire source tree, and examining 500K to 800K of
resulting output. I'd fix as many errors as I could, testing small
parts of the source tree in the process, then merge my changes back into
the master sources and rebuild the whole thing again.
The errors fell into two general categories: language changes in ANSI C,
and non-portable code. In some cases it was hard to tell the
The major ANSI C problem was the generation of character constants in
the preprocessor. Excessive use of this now-obsolete feature in system
header files caused us to change about 10 include files and about 45
source modules. Another preprocessor problem was that ANSI C uses a
different syntax for token concatenation; we rewrote pieces of five
modules to avoid having to concatenate tokens. ANSI C clarified the
rules for the scope of names declared
extern. We moved extern
declarations around, or added global function declarations, in more than
38 files to handle this. Nine programs used new ANSI keywords, such as
const, as identifiers; we picked new
identifiers. Eleven modules used typedefs as formal parameters names,
unsigned with a typedef.
The worst non-portable construct we found in the Unix sources was the
use of pointers with member names that aren't right for the pointer
type. Fixing this problem caused a lot of work, because we had to
figure out what each untyped or mistyped pointer was really being used
for, then fix its type, and the references to it. We changed 5 modules
due to this, and abandoned one program, efl, which would have required
too much work to fix.
Another problem was caused by using CPP as a macro processor for
assembler source. We circumvented this problem by making the assembler
source acceptable to both old-CPP and ANSI CPP.
A major problem was
asm constructs in C source. Some programs
were written in C with intermixed assembler code, producing a mess when
compiled with anything but the original compiler. Other routines, such
as compress, drop in an
asm here or there as an optimization.
Still more modules, including the kernel, run a sed script over the
assembler code generated by the C compiler, before assembling and
linking it. We eliminated as many uses of
asm as we could, and
turned others into assembler language subroutines in `.s' files.
Both the Pascal and Lisp interpreters used heavy hacking with sed
scripts; each of these took several days to fix.
We fixed three programs that used multi-character constants; two were
clearly errors. Fifteen programs tried to declare functions or
variables, while omitting both the type and storage class; we added
int to the declarations. In two modules this diagnosed errors
caused by use of `;' where `,' was intended. Changes to the
rules for parsing declarations made us fix five modules, and declaration
bugs in six more were caught by GCC's improved error checking. Fifteen
programs had miscellaneous pointer usage bugs fixed. GCC caught bugs in
five modules caused by misunderstood sign extension. Five or ten other
miscellaneous bugs were caught and fixed.
We are pleased with the results so far. Most of the Unix code compiled
without problems, and the parts which we have executed are free from
code generation bugs. The worst of the ANSI C changes only required
roughly fifty modules to be changed, and there were only two problems of
this magnitude. A total of twenty bugs in GCC have been found so far,
and most of them are now fixed. We expected several times this many
bugs; the compiler is in better shape than any of us expected.
Many minor problems and nit incompatibilities with ANSI C have been
removed from the Unix sources. Far fewer user programs should require
attention when doing a BSD Unix port now. However, we did not attempt
to make Berkeley Unix fully ANSI C compliant. In particular, we kept
preprocessor comments (
#endif FOO) as well as machine-specific
#ifdef vax). GCC supports these features even
though ANSI C does not.
Unfinished work remains. The BSD kernel has not yet been ported to GCC,
though it has been syntax-checked. Optimization of the kernel will
cause problems until
volatile declarations are used in all the
right places. Pieces of the Portable C Compiler are still used inside
lint, f77, and pc. Various sources still need their
fixed so that only volatile variables depend on keeping their values
Our changes will be available to recipients of Berkeley's next software
distribution, whenever that is. We will also make diffs available to
others involved in porting Unix to ANSI C.
Future projects include building a complete set of ANSI C and POSIX
compatible include files and libraries (including function prototypes),
and converting the existing sources to use them. An eventual goal is to
produce a fully standard-conforming Unix system--not only in the
interface provided to users, but with sources which will compile and run
on any standard-conforming compiler and libraries.
The success of this collaboration between GNU and Berkeley has
encouraged further cooperation. The GNU project is working to provide
reimplementations of System V features that Berkeley Unix lacks, such as
improved shells and make commands. In return, Berkeley has released
much of its software to the public, eliminating the AT&T license
requirement for programs that AT&T did not supply. A large set of
"freed" BSD software is available by uucp or ftp from
uunet.uu.net in the subdirectory `bsd-sources', as well as
on the GNU Compiler tape and the UUNET tapes.
GNU Project Status Report
GNU Emacs version 18 is in wide distribution. Version 18.55 will soon
Berkeley is distributing GNU Emacs with the 4.3 distribution, DEC is
distributing it with Unix systems on Vaxes, and NeXT is shipping it.
Emacs 18 development has now ceased (although bugs are still fixed, of
course) and version 19 is being worked on. New features so far include:
multiple X windows (a
screen object in Emacs Lisp); scroll bars;
per-buffer redefinition of mouse commands; support for European
character sets; source-level debugging for Emacs Lisp; and floating
We are also considering these new features: associating property lists
with portions of the text in a buffer, and using them to control
visibility of the text; specifying different visibility conditions for
multiple windows showing one buffer; incremental syntax analysis for
various programming languages; a visually enhanced Info mode; an
object-oriented graphics-drawing extension; hooks to be run if point
moves outside a certain range.
It will take a while to do this (plus any other ideas we get), so please
don't ask when Emacs 19 will be available for beta test. We will
Brian Fox has now completed GNU's version of
sh, called BASH, the
`Bourne Again SHell'. In addition to Korn shell features, it now has
job control and both Emacs-style and
csh-style command history
manipulation. Look for it soon on our distribution.
There is a good chance that the C Shell from BSD will be declared free
software by Berkeley, so we won't need to write that.
We hope to use the MACH message-passing kernel being developed at CMU.
The current distributed version of MACH is not free because it contains
code from BSD of AT&T origin. However, the MACH developers have been
working to separate this code from the kernel and they now say that they
have a first version of this running in alpha test. Once this is
stable, the MACH kernel is supposed to become free.
Should MACH not become available, then we will start the kernel with
either MIT's TRIX kernel or Berkeley's Sprite system.
Another thing we are considering is using the high-performance,
distributed Sprite file system with MACH.
The GNU source-level C debugger, GDB, is now being distributed along
with Emacs version 18 as GDB version 2.8. GDB version 3.2 is
distributed on the beta-test (compiler) tape, and as soon as it is
stable it will replace version 2.8 on the Emacs tape.
* reads symbol tables incrementally; this results in much
faster startup and much less memory use. GDB also provides command line
editing with history substitution and completion of command, filename,
and symbols. Recently added FORTRAN support has not been tested. New
until, which executes until a certain line; and
bt -n, to show only the outermost n stack frames.
The current GDB can code-grind (pretty-print) structures and can
conditionally avoid printing unions. C
++ support has been
There is a version of GDB which can run stand-alone so that we can use
it to debug the kernel, and we also have a serial line interface for
running GDB remotely. A French volunteer is now working on a UDP based
over-the-ethernet debugging interface. Work is also being done on
debugging multiple process, parallel programs.
Future versions of GDB may support watchpoints. We also hope soon to
merge the diffs for the Altos and Sun 386i machines.
The GNU C Compiler GCC is now fairly reliable. It supports the May 1988
draft of ANSI C. People are still reporting bugs, but they also say
they think there are fewer bugs than in commercial compilers. Read John
Gilmore's article to see how some of these bugs were uncovered. Next
builds their entire system, including their port of the MACH kernel and
NFS, with GCC. Someone has also told us that GCC successfully compiled
a System V.3 kernel.
The compiler performs automatic register allocation, common
subexpression elimination, invariant code motion from loops, induction
variable optimizations, constant propagation and copy propagation,
delaying popping of function call arguments, tail recursion elimination,
plus many local optimizations that are automatically deduced from the
machine description. We are also currently implementing delayed-branch
fill and pipeline scheduling (experimentally).
GCC has recently been ported to the Convex, Tahoe and the MIPS
processors. A Pyramid version is expected soon, and ports are underway
to the IBM 370, IBM PC/RT, 3B2, HP Spectrum, Motorola 88000, some sort
of Gould machine, and (perhaps) the AMD 29000.
GCC makes shorter and faster 68020 code than the new Sun compiler with
-O. The new Sun compiler can't beat GCC despite taking 3 times as long.
As of version 1.31, GCC also wins on the Sun 4. GCC makes shorter Vax
code than the Tartan C compiler with -O4, but we haven't been able to
compare the running speed of that code. A National 32000 port done by
Michael Tiemann on a Sequent 32000 system is said to be more reliable
than Sequent's compiler and yields a 40% speedup for several programs
including a Prolog interpreter.
We are also working on merging the C Compiler with the C
compiler so that there would be only one distribution for both
In the future, if we have time, we would like to implement more language
extensions (we will probably add nested scoping), plus facilities for
precompilation of header files to save time when they are large and the
source files are small. We might also do other language front ends, but
there seem to be enough remote GNUers willing to do this job.
Enough internal documentation is included for people interested in
retargeting the compiler to other CPUs to do so.
GNU C for VMS
GCC can run under VMS. However, the ordinary VMS C compiler has bugs
and cannot compile GNU C, so you need an executable of GNU C to get
started. This comes on the VMS tape along with the source.
Other GNU programs for VMS include GNU Emacs and Bison.
Please don't ask us to devote effort to additional VMS support, because
it is peripheral to the GNU project.
It is now possible to run the entire suite of GNU software tools on
System V, replacing COFF entirely. First you install the GNU compiler,
assembler, linker and other utilities. Then you use the program
robotussin---COFF medicine for your computer--to convert the
system libraries from COFF format to GNU (i.e. BSD) format.
When you compile programs, you will get ordinary GNU/BSD object files.
Linking these with the GNU linker will produce GNU/BSD executables with
a COFF header that the kernel will accept. The other GNU utilities such
strip know how to operate on these
As true COFF support is peripheral to the GNU project, please don't ask
us to expend effort on it.
Michael Tiemann of Stanford University has written a C
as an extension of GNU C which is distributed with GCC. This was the
first compiler to compile C
++ directly instead of preprocessing
it into C with great benefits for debugging and efficiency.
Recently Michael added multiple inheritance and other new features
promised by AT&T at the first USENIX C
++ workshop (AT&T has yet
to release their version).
GDB version 3.
* includes support for debugging C
which merges in the functionality of the old program GDB
+ was a source code debugger for C
++, but is now being
Assembler and Object File Utilities
GAS is a fairly portable, one pass assembler that is almost twice as
fast as Unix
as. It now works for Vaxes, 680x0, 32x32 and 80386.
A port for Sparc (Sun 4) will be available soon.
The GNU replacements for
ranlib, etc., have been released with
the GCC beta-test distribution.
The GNU linker
ld runs significantly faster than the BSD version.
ld is the only one that will give you source-line numbered
error messages for multiply-defined symbols and undefined
Doug Lea is writing
libg++, a library with utility classes for
GNU Make Extended
We have been distributing GNU Make for several months. An extended
version including more text-processing capabilities and static
rules is now available. It also supports parallelism.
Roland McGrath, who contributed a great deal to GNU Make, has a nearly
complete set of ANSI C library functions. He will work full time this
summer to complete them. These join the GNU
termcap libraries. A better
malloc may be
written soon, and we will shortly add our
qsort library routine.
gdbm is about to enter beta test.
Meanwhile, Steve Moshier has contributed a full series of mathematical
We now distribute Ghostscript, the free GNU software that provides
nearly all the facilities of a Postscript interpreter. It supports X
version 11. Peter Deutsch is still doing some work on it.
Right now, Ghostscript will accept commands in Postscript and execute
them by drawing on an X window. Karl Berry and Kathy Hargreaves will be
working on adding more fonts. They could use the help of volunteers.
Beside additional fonts, Ghostscript needs these enhancements: to serve
as a previewer for multi-page files; to serve other X clients by drawing
on their windows; to improve both it's performance and visual quality.
Other suggestions for enhancements are welcome.
Ghostscript also includes a C-callable graphics library (for client
programs that don't want to deal with the Postscript language), and also
supports IBM PCs and compatibles with EGA graphics (but please don't ask
the FSF staff any questions about this; we don't use PCs and don't have
time to learn anything about them).
Finger and Send
We soon will have a daemon-based Finger program. It polls a
selection of hosts and is thus able to tell you where each person is
We are also testing a Send program for sending immediate messages
to other users across the net.
Jay Fenlason is writing a spreadsheet named Oleo (better for you than
the more expensive spreadsheet).
Landon Noll and Ronald Karr of Amdahl are writing a mail queuing and
delivery system, called
smail. This project is a supported part
of the Amdahl UTS system--as free software!
We may use smail for GNU, or
zmailer, which Rayan Zachariasen is
writing, or perhaps both.
We are using the MIT X window system, which is free software.
Our free replacement for Yacc is called Bison. We also have
cron. We now have the world's fastest
and the world's fastest
diff. A new fast
sort has just
been finished. A "fast lex" called FLEX recently became available; we
are now distributing it.
Volunteers are working on a Smalltalk system and an APL system. Also,
software for editing and playing music.
Possible Target Machines
The GNU operating system will require a CPU that uses 32-bit addresses
and integers and addresses to the 8-bit byte. 1 megabyte of core should
be enough, though 2 meg would probably make a noticeable improvement in
performance. Running some of the system in 1/2 meg may be possible, but
certainly not GNU Emacs, which requires more than 1 meg of
addressable memory. Virtual memory will be required.
A hard disk will be essential; at least 20 meg will be needed to hold
a minimal system. Plus more space for the user's files, of course.
Perhaps 80 meg altogether for a personal GNU system.
Not that it will be impossible to adapt some or all of GNU for other
architectures; but we don't currently consider it part of our job.
It is too early to inquire about porting GNU (except GNU Emacs, GDB, GNU
C, and GAS). First, we have to finish it.
GNU documentation is distributed as Texinfo source files. Texinfo
source yields both a typeset hardcopy and an on-line format, accessed by
a menu-driven system.
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.
The following manuals, provided with our software, are also available in
hardcopy; see the order form on the inside back cover.
The Emacs Manual describes how to use GNU Emacs. It also explains
advanced features, such as outline mode and regular expression search.
The manual tells how to use the special modes for programming in
languages such as C and Lisp, how to use the tags utility, and how to
compile and correct code. It also describes how to make your own
keybindings and make other elementary customizations.
This manual does not cover programming in Emacs Lisp. This topic
will be handled in an introductory Emacs Lisp programming manual and an
Emacs Lisp reference manual. The reference manual should be out this
summer. Watch for the announcement.
The Texinfo Manual describes how to write documents in Texinfo
source code. It describes the markup language used to create both an
Info file and a printed document from the same source file: how to make
tables, lists, chapters, nodes, indices and cross references. It also
describes how to use Texinfo Mode in GNU Emacs and how to catch
The Termcap Manual is often described as "Twice as much as you
ever wanted to know about Termcap". It describes the format of the
Termcap data base, the definitions of terminal capabilities and how to
interrogate a terminal description. This manual is primarily for
The Bison Manual describes how to write a grammar description
that Bison can convert into a C program that can parse that grammar.
This manual assumes no prior knowledge of parser generators. It
describes the concepts and then provides a series of increasingly
complex examples before describing what goes on in considerable detail.
The GAWK Manual describes how to use the GNU implementation of
AWK. It is written for someone who has never used AWK before, and
describes all the features of this powerful string manipulating
The Make Manual describes the GNU Make utility, a program used to
rebuild parts of other programs when and as needed. The manual tells
how to write a makefile, which describes how to recompile the parts of
your program and how they depend on each other.
The GDB Manual explains how to use the GNU DeBugger. It
describes how to run your program under control of the debugger, how to
examine and alter data within the program, and how to modify the flow of
control within the program. It also explains how to use GDB through GNU
Emacs, with auto-display of source lines.
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 Unix tape (called the "Beta test" or
"Compiler" tape) contains the GNU C compiler and related utilities,
and other new programs that are less thoroughly tested. The third Unix
tape (called the "X11" tape) contains the X11 distribution from the
MIT X consortium. See the order form, on the inside back cover, for
details about media, etc.
Contents of Release Tape
The software on this tape is considered to be fairly stable, but as
always, we welcome your bug reports.
In 1975, Richard Stallman developed the first Emacs: the extensible,
customizable real-time display editor. GNU Emacs is his second
implementation of Emacs. It's the first Emacs available on Unix systems
that offers true Lisp, smoothly integrated into the editor, for writing
extensions. It also provides a special interface to MIT's free X window
system, versions 10 and 11, which makes redisplay very fast. The
current version is 18.55.
GNU Emacs has been in widespread use since 1985 and often displaces
proprietary implementations of Emacs because of its greater reliability
as well as its good features and easier extensibility. Isaac Salzman of
Unix Review magazine planned to compare the various publicly
available Emacs', but only one company wanted their product to be
compared with GNU Emacs. The review should appear in the June, 1989
GNU Emacs (as of version 18.55) runs on many kinds of Unix systems:
those made by Alliant, Altos 3068, Amdahl (UTS), Apollo, AT&T (3B
machines and 7300 pc), CCI 5/32 and 6/32, Celerity, Convex, Digital
(Vax, not PDP-11; BSD or SysV), Dual, Elxsi 6400, Encore (DPC and APC),
Gould, HP (9000 series 200, 300 or 800 (Spectrum) but not series 500),
HLH Orion 1/05, IBM (RT/PC;4.2 and AIX), Integrated Solutions (Optimum V
with 68020 and VMEbus), Intel 80386 (BSD, SysV, and Xenix), Iris (2500,
2500 Turbo and 4D), LMI (Nu), Masscomp, Megatest, MIPS, NCR (Tower 32),
Nixdorf Targon 31, Plexus, Pyramid, Sequent Balance, SONY News, Stride
(system release 2), Sun (all kinds), Tahoe, Tektronix (NS16000 system &
4300), Texas Instruments (Nu), and Whitechapel
GNU Emacs is described by the GNU Emacs Manual, which comes with the
software in Texinfo form. See "GNU Documentation" above.
GDB 2.8 (GNU's Debugger) is the source-level C debugger written in 1986.
It offers many features not usually found in debuggers on Unix, such as
Emacs-style command history and substitution, a history that records all
values examined within the debugger for concise later reference,
multi-line user-defined commands, and good self-documentation.
GDB 2.8 currently runs on Vaxes under 4.2 and 4.3bsd, on Sun 3 under
systems version 2 and 3 and 4, on the SPARC (Sun 4) under systems
version 3.2 and 4.0, HP9K320, ISI, Merlin, SONY News, Gould NPL and PN,
i386, and on some 32000 systems. GDB 3.
* is currently being
distributed on the beta tape, and supports several more systems.
On-line help and a users' manual for GDB comes with the software;
the printed version of the manual is also available from the Foundation.
Bison is an upward-compatible replacement parser generator for Yacc,
with additional features. It has been in use for several years. Bison
is used for compiling GNU C, so it is included on the GNU beta tape
as well. A users' manual for Bison comes with the software; the printed
version is also available from the Foundation.
X Window System, V10R4
Version 10 of X Windows is distributed on the GNU Emacs tape; version 11
(which is totally incompatible) is distributed on the X11 tape. GNU Emacs
version 18.55 supports both versions 10 and 11.
Scheme is a simplified, lexically scoped dialect of Lisp, designed at
MIT and other universities to teach students programming and research
new parallel programming constructs and compilation techniques. Scheme
is written in C and runs on many Unix systems.
It now conforms to the
"Revised^3 Report On The Algorithmic Language Scheme"
(MIT AI Lab Memo 848a), for which TeX source is included
in the distribution. Another good source of documentation for Scheme is
"Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs", by Harold
Abelson and Gerald J. Sussman with Julie Sussman, the MIT Press \&
McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985.
A variant of Scheme developed at Yale University, T is intended for
production use in program development. T contains a native-code
optimizing compiler that produces code that runs at speeds comparable to
the running speeds of programs written in conventional languages. It
runs on BSD Vaxes and a few types of 68020 systems. T is written in
itself and cannot be bootstrapped without a binary (included), but it is
great if you can use it. Some documentation is included.
texi2roff translates GNU Texinfo files into a format that can be
printed by the Unix [nt]roff programs utilizing the mm, ms or me macro
packages. It is included on both tapes so that people who don't have a
copy of TeX can print out GNU documentation.
GNU Chess and NetHack
GNU Chess is a chess program written in C by John Stanback and Stuart
Cracraft. It includes an extensive opening book and was recently rated
by USCF Senior Master IM Larry Kaufman at around USCF 1950 (close to
expert level) when run on a Sun 3 workstation. On a Sun 4, it should
play at nearly master level.
Hack is a display oriented adventure game similar to Rogue.
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.
The GNU C compiler is a fairly portable optimizing compiler. It
generates good code for the 32000, 680x0, 80386, Alliant, SPARC, SPUR,
Tahoe, and Vax CPUs. Machines using these CPUs include the Encore
NS32000, Genix NS32000, Sequent NS32000, AT&T 3B1, HP-UX 68000/68020,
ISI 68000/68020, SONY News, All Sun's, Intel 386, Sequent Intel 386,
Alliant FX/8. The MIPS processor is also supported. It supports full
ANSI C as of the latest draft standard. Included with the compiler are
the GNU assembler GAS, Make, Bison (also on the Emacs release tape), and
the perfect hash-table generating utility (Gperf), plus the object file
gprof and the Texinfo source of The GCC
Manual (for those interested in extending or retargeting GCC).
Version 3 of GDB runs under BSD 4.2 and 4.3 on Vaxes and Suns (2, 3, and
4), Convex, HP 9000/300's under BSD, HP 9000/320's under HPUX, Intel 386
workstation (with either GNU or native object file format), ISI Optimum
V, Merlin under Utek 2.1, SONY News, Gould NPL and PN machines,
Sequent Symmetry (a 386 based machine), and Encores under Umax 4.2.
GAWK, FLEX and
GAWK is GNU's version of the Unix AWK utility; it comes with a Texinfo
manual. FLEX is a mostly-compatible replacement for the Unix
scanner generator written by Vern Paxson of the Lawrence Berkeley
Laboratory. FLEX generates far more efficient scanners than
tar includes multivolume support, automatic compression and
decompression of archives, remote archives, and special features to
tar to be used for incremental and full backups of file
Freed Files from the U.C. Berkeley 4.3-tahoe Release
These files have been declared by Berkeley to be free of AT&T code, and
may be freely redistributed. They include complete sources for some
utility programs, games, library routines and partial sources for many
RCS and BASH
The latest version of the Revision Control System for version control and
management of large software projects.
The GNU Shell BASH (for Bourne Again SHell) provides compatibility with
sh and extensions from both
These programs are GNU's versions of the Unix programs of the same name.
They are much faster than their Unix counterparts.
Ghostscript is GNU's graphics language. It is almost fully compatible
with the postscript language. It supports X version 11.
gnuplot is an interactive program for plotting mathematical
expressions and data. Oddly enough, the program was neither done for
nor named for the GNU Project--the name is a coincidence. However, we
are distributing it anyway. If you can put us in contact with the
author of this program, please do!
libg++, OOPS, and InterViews
++ is a set of changes for GCC, that compiles C
well-known object-oriented language. Since G
++ depends on GCC,
it must be used with the correspondingly numbered version of GCC.
libg++ (the GNU C
++ library) is a collection of C
classes and support tools for use with G
OOPS (Object-Oriented Program Support) class library is a portable
collection of classes similar to those in Smalltalk-80 that has been
developed by Keith Gorlen of NIH, using the C
InterViews is an object-oriented, C
++ library to support the
design and implementation of user interfaces.
GnuGo allows the user to play the machine in a game of Go (Wei-Chi). It
is an updated version of the program called Hugo.
Contents of X11 Tape.
The X11 tape contains Version 11, Release 3 of the MIT 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 tape of the GNU Emacs editor, and a separate VMS 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 GNU software is to copy it from someone else who has it.
If you have access to the Internet, you can get the latest software from
the host `prep.ai.mit.edu'. For more information, read the file
`/u/emacs/GETTING.GNU.SOFTWARE' on that host. Please note that the
internet address of `prep' has changed to
If you cannot get the software from a friend or over the net, or if you
would like to contribute some funds to our efforts and receive the
latest versions, the Free Software Foundation distributes tapes for a
copying and distribution fee. See the order form on the inside back
There are also third party groups that distribute our software: people
and organizations that do not work with us, but have our software in
other forms. For your convenience, some of them 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 providing for anonymous FTP:
scam.berkeley.edu, spam.istc.sri.com, bu-it.bu.edu,
wsmr-simtel20.army.mil (under `PD:<Unix.GNU>'),
cc.utah.edu (VMS GNU Emacs), and uunet.uu.net.
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:
uunet!hutch!barber, hqda-ai!merlin, acornrc!bob,
sun!nosun!illian!darylm, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
...!osu-cis!karl; or Bob Sutterfield (substitute
karl in the above addresses).
Information on getting floppy disks of GNU Emacs for the AT&T Unix PC
(aka 3B1 or PC7300) is available from:
Thanks to our Anonymous Contributor, and thanks to Hewlett-Packard
for their donations of a $100,000 each. Also, thanks to the Open
Software Foundation for their donation of $25,000.
Many thanks to the following people for copying Sun cartridges: Barry
Kleinman and Andre Mesarovic of Index Technology; George Brown;
Devon McCullough and Nick Papadakis; Mark Nahabedian and
Shaun Keller of Phoenix Technology; and finally thanks in advance to
Mark Hannon of ICAD.
Thanks to all those mentioned in GNU Flashes and the GNU Project
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 Arnold Robbins and Dave Trueman for their work on GAWK
and the GAWK manual.
Thanks to John Klensin of the INFOODS Project at MIT for use of the
project's machine for making our VMS master tapes.
Thanks go out to all those who have lent us machines, including
Brewster Kahle of Thinking Machines, Inc. for the Sun 4/110, K.
Richard Magill for the AT&T Unix PC, CMU's Mach Project for the Sun
3/60, Intel Corp. for their 386 workstation, and SONY Corp. and Software
Research Associates, Inc., both of Tokyo, for the SONY News workstations.
Thanks to all those who have contributed ports and extensions, as well as
those who have contributed other source code, documentation, and good bug
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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Cambridge, MA 02139 USA | here |