GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 8, January, 1990

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GNU's Who

Joseph Arceneaux is working on Emacs version 19. Jim Kingdon is working on GDB. Kathy Hargreaves is working on the regular-expression routines regex.c, Karl Berry is working on Ghostscript, and both Kathy and Karl have been working on transforming character bitmaps into cubic splines, so that GNU can include high-quality typefaces. Roland McGrath and Joy Kendall spent last summer programming various GNU software. Mike Rowan has just been hired as a programmer.

Mike Haertel is working on finishing the C interpreter started by Nobuyuki Hikichi, in addition to continuing to maintain and improve various utilities and library routines. David Lawrence is currently expanding the GNU Emacs Lisp libraries. He is working for us at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Brian Fox is now working for us at Caltech. He has released the beta version of Bash, the `Bourne Again SHell', and is now working on GNU's daemon-based Finger. Jay Fenlason is writing the GNU spreadsheet program Oleo, and maintaining tar, sed and the GNU assembler. Jay also takes care of our backups and creating distribution tapes.

Diane Barlow Close has written initial drafts of the documentation for all of the small Unix utilities that have been completed for us and is now working on a shell programming manual. Diane is the primary author of the GAWK Manual. Mona Cosmos is working on an introductory user manual (shell commands, files, etc.) and Grace Sylvan is working on a C manual.

S. Opus Goldstein is still running our office. She now has an assistant, Erica Brigid ni Judith, who answers the phone machine, handles correspondence, and packs the orders. Robert J. 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 and gnUSENET, information requests, etc.

GNU's Bulletin

Copyright (C) 1990 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Written by: Jim Kingdon, Robert J. Chassell, Michael Bloom, Barry Shein,

Micheal Tiemann, Richard Stallman, and Leonard H. Tower Jr.

Illustrations: Etienne Suvasa

Japanese Translator: Mieko Hikichi

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 named "GNU" (GNU's Not Unix) that will be upwardly 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. The Service Directory is located in file `etc/SERVICE' in the GNU Emacs distribution. 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 or wish a copy.

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 always appreciated.

The board of the Foundation is: Richard Stallman, President; Robert J. 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 copy on request.

We encourage others to copyleft their programs using the General Public License; basically programs only need to include a few sentences stating that the license applies to them. Specifics on using the License 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 ours."

			-Benjamin Franklin

GNUs Flashes

Boycott Apple; Defend Apple

by Richard Stallman

Most of the people I know in the computer field are disgusted with Apple for its look-and-feel lawsuit. So, when they hear that Xerox has sued Apple in the same way, they are usually delighted: now Sculley may get what he deserves.

There is only one dark cloud in this inviting landscape: if Xerox wins, the rest of us will also get what Sculley deserves.

In practical terms, a Xerox victory would have the same kind of effect as a victory by Apple in its lawsuit against HP and Microsoft. If we lose the freedom to develop and distribute window systems, it little matters precisely who has taken it away. The dangerous precedent for future cases on other kinds of software would likewise be the same.

However, Xerox as a monopolist could be worse in degree. Xerox was involved in an earlier stage of window system development, so a Xerox monopoly might cover a wider range of window systems than an Apple monopoly.

For the GNU project, the practical result might be that we cannot have a window system. We have been planning to use the X window system, but if Xerox wins the suit, this could become illegal.

An additional danger in the Xerox suit is that public sympathy for Xerox, due to resentment of Apple's own lawsuit and to Xerox's early role in developing window system ideas, may help Xerox win.

This sympathy is misplaced. Xerox entered a competitive market functioning under well-known rules: no one could copyright a user interface. (As for ideas and techniques, copyright has never applied to those.) They developed an interesting product that failed in the market due to various mistakes--an event which is not unusual in business. Now they wish to escape the consequences of their errors by changing the rules retroactively. This is hardly fair.

In order for us to keep our freedom to write software, we must now defeat Xerox as well as Apple. This means our task is now harder. However, the Xerox lawsuit may aid us indirectly: the absurdity of this mess of lawsuits may help convince the public that the whole idea of look-and-feel copyright must be firmly rejected.

But being convinced is not enough; to end the danger of look-and-feel suits, we must convince the courts and Congress. By expressing our views in public, writing to the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, or joining the League for Programming Freedom, we can put an end to this wasteful legal contentiousness.

You can write to the subcommittee at:
House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property,
U.S. House of Representatives,
Washington, DC   20515

League for Programming Freedom

by Michael Bloom and Richard Stallman

The League for Programming Freedom is an organization of people who oppose the attempt to monopolize common user interfaces through "look and feel" copyright lawsuits. Some of us are programmers, who worry that such monopolies will obstruct our work. Some of us are users, who want new computer systems to be compatible with the interfaces we know.

"Look and feel" lawsuits aim to create a new class of government-enforced monopolies broader in scope than ever before. Such a system of user-interface copyright would impose gratuitous incompatibility, reduce competition, and stifle innovation.

We in the League hope to prevent these problems by preventing user-interface copyright. The League is not opposed to copyright law as it was understood until 1986--copyright on particular programs. Our aim is to stop changes in the copyright system which would take away programmers' traditional freedom to write new programs compatible with existing programs and practices.

The League for Programming Freedom will act against the doctrine behind look-and-feel suits by any means consistent with the law and intellectual liberty. We will write editorials, talk with public officials, file amicus curiae briefs with the courts, and boycott egregious offenders. On May 24th, 1989, we picketed Lotus headquarters on account of their lawsuits against competitors, stimulating widespread media coverage for the issue. If you have other ideas, please suggest them.

In the future, the League may also fight other restrictive practices, such as software patents, which threaten to make every design decision in software development a chance for a lawsuit. The League's founders consider software patents potentially even more dangerous than look-and-feel copyright, but it will be up to the members to decide whether the League should campaign against them.

The League needs both activist members and members who only pay their dues.

To join, write to:

League for Programming Freedom, 1 Kendall Square #143,
P.O.Box 9171, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.   Phone: (617) 492--0023.

Note that the League for Programming Freedom is a separate organization from the Free Software Foundation; please direct all League inquiries to the above address, not to the Foundation.

Online Book Initiative

by Barry Shein

The Online Book Initiative has been formed to make available freely redistributable collections of information. There exist huge collections of books, conference proceedings, reference material, catalogues, etc., which can be freely shared. Some of it is in machine-readable form, much of it isn't.

The purpose of the Online Book Initiative is to create a publicly accessible repository for this information, a net-worker's library.

Information in the Online Book Repository will be available for free redistribution. On-line access, magnetic media and other methods of distribution will involve reasonable charges for the services provided, not the information.

There are other organizations with similar overall goals (e.g. Project Gutenberg, Common Knowledge); in some cases the details of their goals or approaches are quite different. We are in contact with most of them and in general our conversations are very positive. Anyone putting textual information on-line soon develops an attitude of "the more, the merrier;" it's a massive area of endeavor.

What We Wish to Archive

All on-line materials (other than software collections) such as books, journals, catalogues, conference proceedings, magazines, manuals, maps, images, technical documentation, reference works, etc. The only software we are interested in is software specific to the viewing, manipulation, searching and maintenance of information in the repository.

Materials must be free of copyrights limiting redistribution by us or any individual or organization who receives them. The Online Book Initiative is dealing only with materials free of restrictive copyrights because we don't want to be distracted by the complications they demand.

We also need pointers to collections of materials that may be available. For example, there are government collections of interesting data which are available at reasonable costs and do not limit further redistribution of copies obtained.

What We Need from You

Beyond machine-readable material there are huge collections of printed material which could be redistributed if put on-line. We need people willing to organize informal projects to scan, type or otherwise get this material on-line for inclusion in the Online Book Repository.

We need to get in touch with Library and Information Scientists interested in helping us create formats and structures for organizing the repository.

We need international participation to help ensure that our efforts are useful to people everywhere.

We need people willing to participate in a Technical Advisory Board to help us guide our efforts.

We need involvement from academia, industry and governments to help us enrich this effort without bounds and make available a first-rate, freely available information utility.

We need involvement from publishers who have materials that can be included in the Online Book Repository. Many books and reference works have become unprofitable to publish by ordinary paper means. It's time to make these materials available!

We need involvement from the technical community to choose and implement multi-media software standards such as hypertext, mark-up languages, index and catalogue software, text retrieval, network access methods and more. Standards are critical to our efforts.

What We Are Offering is a public access Unix system which will serve as the initial repository. It is a Sun4/280 system and will be expanded as needed.

Anyone can dial into the system and set up an account if they wish direct access (617-739-WRLD). Accounts are charged and proceeds will be used to build the Online Book Repository.

UUCP and other links will be available for the redistribution of collections. We will also make collections available on magnetic media for reasonable copying charges.

How to Get Involved

If you think you can help or want more information send electronic mail to There are two mailing lists, one for general discussion about Online Book Initiative issues and another which receives announcements only (the general discussion list will see all announcements so you only need to be on one). To subscribe to either, mail a request to

Or call us at Software Tool & Die, 617-739-0202.

Or drop by our office and chat if you're in the area: 1330 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA   02146.


This started as an informal discussion group that called themselves "The KiloMonkeys Project" ("Strong Typing For Weak Minds") who wanted to figure out how to get useful materials on-line and generally available. I have decided to make Software Tool & Die a home for this activity and formalize the project under the new name "The Online Book Initiative." My thanks to that original group from Monkey Shein.

Common Knowledge's Universal Index

There is 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

New Support Company

Cygnus Support has been organized as the first for-profit corporation that provides commercial support only for free software, that we are aware of. Their initial support package is for GNU program development tools at sites with 50 -- 150 seats. Contact or Cygnus Support, 814 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301. (FSF is not affiliated with Cygnus Support; note that numerous individual consultants are listed in the GNU Service Directory in file `etc/SERVICE' in the GNU Emacs distribution.)

GNU Wish List

Wishes for this issue are for:

GNU Project Status Report

Freemacs, an Extensible Editor for MS-DOS

Russ Nelson has a copylefted editor for MS-DOS called Freemacs. It is one of the few editors that has a full extension language yet runs on small machines. It is the only such editor that tries to be compatible with GNU Emacs. For more information contact Russ via electronic mail ( or paper mail (Russell Nelson, 11 Grant St., Potsdam, NY, 13676).

Note that the Free Software Foundation does not distribute Freemacs; please don't ask us about it.

GNU Documentation

GNU is dedicated to having quality easy-to-use on-line and printed documentation. GNU manuals explain the underlying concepts, describe how to use all the features of each program, and give examples of command use.

GNU documentation is distributed as Texinfo source files. Texinfo source yields both a typeset hardcopy and on-line presentations, accessed by a menu-driven system.

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.

The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual, which will be released in March 1990, describes the GNU Emacs Lisp programming language. An introductory Emacs Lisp programming manual is also being written.

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 mistakes.

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 database, the definitions of terminal capabilities, and how to interrogate a terminal description. This manual is primarily for programmers.

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 language.

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 specifies how to recompile the parts of your program and how they depend on each other.

The GDB Manual explains how to use GDB, 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 four 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 and fourth Unix tapes (called the "X11" tapes) contain the X11 distribution from the MIT X consortium. See the order form, on the inside back cover, for details about media, etc.

Note that the contents of the 1600bpi 9-track tapes and the QIC-24 DC300XLP 1/4 inch cartridge tapes are the same. It is only the media that are different.

Contents of the Release Tape

The software on this tape is considered to be fairly stable, but as always, we welcome your bug reports.

Contents of the 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 the X11 Tapes

The two X11 tapes contain Version 11, Release 4 of the MIT X window system. X11 is more powerful than, but incompatible with, the no-longer-supported Version 10.

The first FSF tape contains the contents of both tape one and tape two from the MIT X Consortium: the core software and documentation, and the contributed clients. FSF refers to its first tape as the `required' X tape since it is necessary for running X or GNU Emacs under X. (The Consortium refers to its first two tapes as the `required/recommended' tapes.)

The second, `optional' FSF tape contains the contents of tapes three and four from the MIT X Consortium: contributed libraries and other toolkits, the Andrew software, games, etc. (The Consortium refers to its last two tapes as `optional' tapes.)

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.

Note that the DEC VMS C compiler has bugs and thus cannot compile GNU C.

Please don't ask us to devote effort to additional VMS support, because it is peripheral to the GNU project.

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 `'. 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 cover.

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 provide GNU software for anonymous FTP:,,, (under `PD:<Unix.GNU>'),,,,,,,,, (VMS GNU Emacs), and

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, acornrc!bob, 
hqda-ai!merlin, ames!killer!wisner, uunet!hutch!barber,
mit-eddie!bloom-beacon!ht!spt!gz, sun!nosun!illian!darylm, 
oli-stl!root, 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.

Information on getting floppy disks of GNU Emacs for the AT&T Unix PC (aka 3B1 or PC7300) is available from: or ...!bpa!manta!brant.

Thank GNUs

Thanks to the Japanese Unix Society for their donation of $10,000.

Thanks to our Anonymous Contributor, and thanks to Hewlett-Packard for their donations of a $100,000 each.

Thanks to Hewlett-Packard for their donation of six 68030 machines.

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

Thanks to Bil Lewis, Dan LaLiberte, and the volunteers who have proofread drafts and suggested improvements to the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual; and thanks to Warren Hunt of Computer Logic Inc. for support.

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 continued work on gawk and the gawk manual.

Thanks to Brian Kernighan of AT&T Bell Labs for invaluable assistance during the testing and debugging of gawk, and for help in clarifying several points about the language.

Thanks to Chris Welty and the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for splitting Dave Lawrence's salary with FSF and providing him computing facilities.

Thanks to Prof. Christof Koch and the CNS Lab at Caltech for their support of Brian Fox and the use of their facilities.

Thanks to the University of Minnesota Department of Computer Science for allowing Mike Haertel to use their computers.

Thanks to Information Systems and the Whitaker College Computing Facility at MIT for use of their machines for making our VMS master tapes.

Thanks go out to all those who have either lent or donated us machines, including Brewster Kahle of Thinking Machines Corp. (TMC) for the Sun 4/110, K. Richard Magill for the AT&T Unix PC, Doug Blewett of AT&T Bell Labs for two Convergent Miniframes, CMU's Mach Project for the Sun 3/60, Intel Corp. for their 386 workstation, NeXT for a NeXT workstation, the MIT Media Laboratory for the Hewlett-Packard 68020 machine, 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 reports.

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

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