The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the production and distribution of freely distributable software. It was founded by Richard M. Stallman, the author of the original Emacs editor. GNU Emacs is the most widely used version of Emacs today.
Project is an ongoing effort on the part of the Free Software
Foundation to create a complete, freely distributable, POSIX-compliant
The FSF uses the GNU General Public License (GPL) to ensure that
source code is always available to the end user.
A copy of the GPL is included
in this Web page
for your reference
(see section GNU General Public License).
The GPL applies to the C language source code for
To find out more about the FSF and the GNU Project online,
see the GNU Project’s home page.
This Web page may also be read from
A shell, an editor (Emacs), highly portable optimizing C, C++, and
Objective-C compilers, a symbolic debugger and dozens of large and
small utilities (such as
gawk), have all been completed and are
freely available. The GNU operating
system kernel (the HURD), has been released but remains in an early
stage of development.
Until the GNU operating system is more fully developed, you should consider using GNU/Linux, a freely distributable, Unix-like operating system for Intel, Power Architecture, Sun SPARC, IBM S/390, and other systems.7 Many GNU/Linux distributions are available for download from the Internet.
The Web page you are reading is actually free—at least, the
information in it is free to anyone. The machine-readable
source code for the Web page comes with
(Take a moment to check the Free Documentation
License in GNU Free Documentation License.)
The Web page itself has gone through multiple previous editions.
Paul Rubin wrote the very first draft of The GAWK Manual;
it was around 40 pages long.
Diane Close and Richard Stallman improved it, yielding a
version that was
around 90 pages and barely described the original, “old”
I started working with that version in the fall of 1988.
As work on it progressed,
the FSF published several preliminary versions (numbered 0.x).
In 1996, edition 1.0 was released with
The FSF published the first two editions under
the title The GNU Awk User’s Guide.
This edition maintains the basic structure of the previous editions.
For FSF edition 4.0, the content was thoroughly reviewed and updated. All
gawk versions prior to 4.0 were removed.
Of significant note for that edition was the addition of Debugging
For FSF edition
the content has been reorganized into parts,
and the major new additions are Arithmetic and Arbitrary-Precision Arithmetic with
and Writing Extensions for
This Web page will undoubtedly continue to evolve. If you find an error in the Web page, please report it! See section Reporting Problems and Bugs for information on submitting problem reports electronically.
GNU stands for “GNU’s Not Unix.”
The terminology “GNU/Linux” is explained in the Glossary.