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Re: to what extent is the gnu project philosophical?

From: Jason Self
Subject: Re: to what extent is the gnu project philosophical?
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2019 18:49:19 -0700

On Fri, 2019-11-01 at 19:09 +0100, Andreas Enge wrote:
> the FSF is there for the philosophy, and GNU for the
> practical realisation. But then I think things are not as easy as
> that.

Indeed it's not: Those that know GNU history will know that the GNU
Project existed for 2 years prior to the FSF being formed.

The underlying social, ethical, political, and moral issues were what
drove RMS to start working on GNU as a technical project with a
philosophical foundation. He has talked about this in his speeches and
is included in the GNU Project's documents. Even when it was formed 2
years after GNU in 1985 the FSF's original purpose was raising money
for the GNU Project by selling books, tapes with software (US$150 for
a copy of Emacs for example which adjusted for inflation would be
about US$350), etc. and using that money to hire developers. The
advocacy and other things came later (c.f. GNU's Bulletin Volume #1
Issue #1: "What is the Free Software Foundation?" which holds "our
primary purpose is this software development effort" and later that
"this foundation exists for two purposes: to accept gifts to support
GNU development, and to carry out distribution.") Leonard Tower, for
example, was the first person paid to work on GNU full time. Paid by
the FSF course. He worked on the initial C compiler (c.f. GNU's
Bulletin Volume #1 Issue #1 which holds that "Len Tower, the sole
full-time GNU staff person, is working on this".)

In closing, attributing the GNU Project's founding philosophies to the
FSF when it didn't even exist at the time and indeed was even started
with a different purpose in mind seems a bit of historical

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