Happy Birthday to the GNU project, which turned 25 today and is celebrating with a video of English humorist Stephen Fry. In September 1983, Richard Stallman first announced the plan to develop a free software operating system called GNU. Today, in combination with the Linux kernel, GNU/Linux is a completely free operating system running on many millions of computers world-wide. You are using GNU/Linux every day when surfing the web, as it’s one of the most popular operating systems to power web servers, database servers, and the other infrastructure that makes the web work.
As a desktop operating system, GNU/Linux is also making inroads. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we use free software developed by the GNU projects and other communities for servers and clients. For example, we use the Apache web server, the MySQL database server, the Squid proxy server, the PHP scripting language, and the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution on our servers. But even our phone systems are built on top of free software, and we use important open standards like Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis on Wikipedia. For day-to-day office work, we use the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, OpenOffice.org for word processing and presentations, and so on. An increasing number of staff members are also using Ubuntu GNU/Linux as a desktop operating system (including Sue Gardner, the Executive Director).
And, of course, Wikipedia itself is given away under legal code developed by the GNU project: the GNU Free Documentation License. So, we owe an enormous debt to the GNU project and to the Free Software Foundation, as pioneers and leaders of a movement for sharing code freely, so that it cannot be used to coerce and restrict users, and so that it can be improved upon by others. That idea is one of the key inspirations for Wikipedia itself.
Happy birthday, GNU!
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation<
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