need for freedom in the software industry has always
been strong. Thanks to the legal deep
involvement many people have shown, this kind of software
has now become a possible choice.
## BSD ##
first users of UNIX have been
universities, which - without any kind of support or
warranty - low cost version of this operating system
were given. It is right after the lack of support from
the main company who produced it that cooperation among
the different users (between universities) started to
around UNIX started to focus
in the Berkeley University of California, where, starting
from 1978 people started to distribute a different version
for this operating system: BSD
(Berkeley software distribution).
protect software developed this way, the BSD
license was born. This license was the first brick on
which the free software philosophy was born.
a long time, the BSD UNIX
variant was strictly tied to the universitary environment
or among those few companies that purchased the rights
to use the source code of the original UNIX.
This stayed this way until someone wanted to clean Unix
BSD from the proprietary source
release for the software was 386BSD
that saw the light of day during year 1992 with version
0.1. This free edition of Unix BSD
was not lucky, because starting from then on, judicial
fights for the property of part of the code stated as
free started to rise (whatever it did belong to).
from the problems of 386BSD
that forced the public distribution to be eliminated,
many other proprietary projects focused on building
a free BSD system started to spring. First of these
project was NetBSD followed
just later by FreeBSD and finally
by the debut of OpenBSD.
legal problems were not solved; concerning FreeBSD
in particular, this type of BSD
was "free" only at the beginning of 1995 with version
2.0. The following article is taken from A Brief
History of FreeBSD by Jordan K. Hubbard, march
first CDROM (and general net-wide) distribution was
FreeBSD 1.0, released in December of 1993. This was
based on the 4.3BSD-Lite ("Net/2") tape from U.C.
Berkeley, with many components also provided by 386BSD
and the Free Software Foundation. It was a fairly
reasonable success for a first offering, and we followed
it with the highly successful FreeBSD 1.1 release
in May of 1994.
this time, some rather unexpected storm clouds formed
on the horizon as Novell and U.C. Berkeley settled
their long-running lawsuit over the legal status of
the Berkeley Net/2 tape. A condition of that settlement
was U.C. Berkeley's concession that large parts of
Net/2 were "encumbered" code and the property of Novell,
who had in turn acquired it from AT&T some time
previously. What Berkeley got in return was Novell's
"blessing" that the 4.4BSD-Lite release, when it was
finally released, would be declared unencumbered and
all existing Net/2 users would be strongly encouraged
to switch. This included FreeBSD, and the project
was given until the end of July 1994 to stop shipping
its own Net/2 based product. Under the terms of that
agreement, the project was allowed one last release
before the deadline, that release being FreeBSD 18.104.22.168.
then set about the arduous task of literally re-inventing
itself from a completely new and rather incomplete
set of 4.4BSD-Lite bits. The "Lite" releases were
light in part because Berkeley's CSRG had removed
large chunks of code required for actually constructing
a bootable running system (due to various legal requirements)
and the fact that the Intel port of 4.4 was highly
incomplete. It took the project until December of
1994 to make this transition, and in January of 1995
it released FreeBSD 2.0 to the net and on CDROM. Despite
being still more than a little rough around the edges,
the release was a significant success and was followed
by the more robust and easier to install FreeBSD 2.0.5
release in June of 1995.
the actual status, all three *BSD
variants are founded on BSD
4.4-Lite, with the main differences being supported
hardware platforms and how the different distributions
originate. As an example, the strong point of OpenBSD
is in its founding in Canada, from where components
for cryptographic communications can be exported.
1985, Richard Stallman founded FSF Free software
foundation with the aim in mind to create and spread
worldwide the "free software" philosophy. With freedom
is meant the chance of distributing and modifying software
adapting it to your own needs and to distribute even
the changes made to the original code freely (chapter
on, these philosophical ideas turned into the development
of a license focusing on the use of the software, the
General Public License (section A),
this license was especially developed to protect free
software and to prevent stealing of ownership that could
have stopped its free distribution. Basing on this,
copyrighted software protected this way is now referred
to as copyleft.
course free software needs something to ground himself:
one of the main aims that Richard Stallman was thinking
of was developing a complete operating system with the
help of volunteers.
from this, the GNU (Gnu's not Unix), project
was born. First step was the development of a C
compiler which was used to build some basic
system programs needed for the main preparation of the
operating system core.
GNU project gave life to a large number of software
releases that could be used on almost every Unix platform
available, pushing in the end free software to that
kind of systems.
1990 the development of the Hurd kernel
starts; and around year 2000 starts the distribution
of the GNU/Hurd system (a GNU system developed on an
the end of 1980s, professor Andrew S. Tanenbaum (chapter
359) started to
develop a Unix operating system for i86
computer, exclusively made for teaching purposes. Buying
the related book was enough to get hold of a complete
system together with sources. This brought to a problem
where Minix could not be freely
modified and distributed if not for purely teaching
for this operating system were given to the press company
in charge for the pressing when the book was released.
In year 2000 Andrew S. Tanenbaum agreed with the press
company to make the Minix license
less restrictive, making it more similar to the BSD
was born as a personal project by Linus Torvalds (student
of the Helsinki university in Finland) leaned towards
the study and development of software on i386
later decided to move studying of i386
microprocessors on Minix, with
the idea of realizing something like it in mind. He
was thinking to start from that operating system to
make (a better Minix than Minix) and later
drop it completely.
a lot of work Linus Torvalds was finally able to develop
a minimal system that was totally autonomous from Minix.
The 5th of October 1991 he posted the following message
you pine for the nice days of Minix-1.1, when men
were men and wrote their own device drivers? Are you
without a nice project and just dying to cut your
teeth on a OS you can try to modify for your needs?
Are you finding it frustrating when everything works
on Minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program
working? Then this post might be just for you.
I mentioned a month ago, I'm working on a free version
of a Minix-lookalike for AT-386 computers. It has
finally reached the stage where it's even usable (though
may not be depending on what you want), and I am willing
to put out the sources for wider distribution. It
is just version 0.02...but I've successfully run bash,
gcc, gnu-make, gnu-sed, compress, etc. under it.
of the operating system based on the Linux(2)
kernel is so 1991; as trying
to establish the exact birth of version 0.01 is almost
impossible. At that time it wasn't yet an operating
system, but it helped to show the right path had been
has not been a single man project for long, in a very
short time it involved many people, all tied together
from the hype of participating in a project free of
legal restriction, limitations of use and modification
possibility. In the end, comparing to Minix,
Linux's luck has been the adoption of the GNU-GPL license
(section A) since
the beginning, that is still today the right choice
for protecting software developed and available for
everybody. This way Minix's
limit of being attractive for professors and students
only was surpassed. The GPL license makes Linux attractive
must not forget the importance of the GNU project that
gave to the Linux kernel all
that was needed to reach the state of a complete operating
the importance of free software had been understood
and economical interests or similar intentions started
to spring, the need for a clean and neat definition
of what "free software" exactly is began to arise.
this direction in mind the group publishing the Debian
GNU/Linux distribution stood as an example into defining
a list of requirements software needs to be inserted
into the distribution.
avoid feeding confusion with the words "free software",
in 1998 the definition Open
Source was born to relate to software that has met the
requirements to be "free software". It partly used work
made by the Debian group, but
using a neat and non-modifiable name(<http://www.opensource.org>).
At least this was the intention behind it.
though the intention was good, the resulting name is
even more ambiguous because it doesn't point one of
the concept it should summarise. Open
Source does not strictly relate to "freedom", which
is the basement of free software. Open
Source is a registered trademark, but this does not
limit people from using these words to simply describe
proprietary software which distributes source code in
some way and "fool" people by calling it free software;
while it has absolutely nothing to do with it. Biggest
problem is always ignorance: the concept behind free
software is not spread and understood like its own name.
Future of free software
an ideal point of view, future of free software may
not seem so easy and troublefree if we look at the attention
given to the commercial side of the GNU/Linux operating
system and the hype that comes along with it. Even if
on its own all this fuss is not bad, this situation
makes things even more difficult for the common people
identifying free software as well as the meaning and
value of it.
you look at the people who started all this and strongly
believes in the philosophy behind it, you will surely
see no happiness. As Richard Stallman wrote in Why
``Free Software'' is better than ``Open Source'':
have to say, ``It's free software and it gives you
freedom!'' -- more and louder than ever before.
who use GNU/Linux and the software that operates with
this operating system must read licenses:
all the stuff that carries the "Linux" brand does not
mean it's necessarily "free". This does not imply fight
against proprietary software but instead identify them
both, especially to avoid breaking the law.
thing to consider on free software is the patent applied
on all the algorithms and other concepts tied to software.
Patents prevent developing of free software that uses
patented algorithms even if protected code is not used.
A "virtual" Richard Stallman
Debian GNU/Linux software distribution
tries to neatly classify what software is included into
the distribution to inform and show to the user what
he's going to install. The Debian
definition for what is "free" mostly follows what Open
Source means. This is fairly less restrictive from what
the Free Software Foundation says.
from this difference, Debian
work to classify software is very important to the average
distracted user. You can check what you have installed
in your system with vrms, a command that
literally means Virtual RMS, a "virtual" Richard
people adopting this GNU/Linux distribution, such program
can be very handy to point out software that could cause
potential legal problems. As an example here is posted
a sample report of the program:
Non-free packages installed on dinkel
communicator-base-45 Popular World-Wide-Web browser software (base support)
communicator-nethelp-45 Popular World-Wide-Web browser software (runtime help
communicator-smotif-45 Popular World-Wide-Web browser software (full static M
doc-html-w3 Recommendations of the W3
gs-aladdin-manual The Ghostscript user manual by Thomas Merz (English)
hwb The Hardware Book
netscape-base-45 Popular World-Wide-Web browser software (base support)
netscape-java-45 Popular World-Wide-Web browser software (java runtime
you can see in this sample report also documentation
is covered, not only software intended as application