GNU at 30, GNOME at 3.10, Guix at 0.4
It was 30 years ago this past week that our planet witnessed the birth of something new that has shaped the software world to this day.
On Tuesday September 27th of 1983, Richard Stallman posted a usenet message simply titled,' new UNIX implementation.
The original message started off with the memorable words: Free Unix.
Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it.
Stallman's original vision for GNU was that it would not be identical to Unix but that it would be able to run Unix programs.
To begin with, GNU will be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to write and run C programs: editor, shell, C compiler, linker, assembler, and a few other things. After this we will add a text formatter, a YACC, an Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of other things. We hope to supply, eventually, everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system, and anything else useful, including on-line and hardcopy documentation.
Perhaps even more important then just GNU was Stallman's motivation for creating it.
Why I Must Write GNU
I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement.
So that I can continue to use computers without violating my principles, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free.
Now 30 years later, GNU as an effort still exists, the ideas behind its creation led to the birth of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Public License that in turn led to the birth of Linux- referred to by Stallman and his adherents as GNU/Linux.
Among the myriad projects that GNU has sponsored and managed over the years is the GNOME desktop project.
This past week the GNOME 3.10 release debuted providing users with an enhanced interface and new applications. The GNOME 3.10 release also marks a move away from the 25 year old X server to the newer Wayland desktop server protocol.
The original idea behind GNU was to build a complete operating system. It's a dream that requires an operating system kernel, which typically has meant the use of Linux.
The GNU Guix project this past week released version 0.4 of its GNU System.
GNU Guix is a functional package manager and distribution of the GNU system.
In addition to standard package management features, Guix supports transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package management, per-user profiles, and garbage collection. Guix uses low-level mechanisms from the Nix package manager, with Guile Scheme programming interfaces.
At this stage Guix can be used on top of an i686 or x86_64 GNU/Linux system, or in a virtual machine. Future versions will stand alone.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Linux Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist
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