FLOSS Communities 1: Free Software Foundation (FSF)

libre software, mswl, mswl-devmotiv, mswl-intro

Hi mates!!!
Today I’m going to start a new set of articles regarding different FLOSS communities, I’ll talk briefly about its history, internal structure (organization), main work, people, and some projects, not too in deep, but maybe enough you have a light idea about every FLOSS community.

And the first, is the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

1. Introduction

The FSF is a non governmental organization and non-profit organization founded on 4 October 1985 by Richard Stallman.
This is, maybe, the first FLOSS foundation.
The FSF creation was for support the free software movement for promote the universal freedom to create, distribute and modify computer software also to employ free software developers and provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement.
The FSF its based in Massachusetts, USA.

2. Main work

The FSF maintains the Free Software Definition and other documents about its philosophy and reports that said what is free software or not basis in the license which use the respective software.
The FSF is the GNU project promoter which is a complete operating system licensed under free software terms.
The FSF holds copyright on a large proportion of the GNU operating system and other free software

With development tasks, the FSF is the publisher of some free software licenses, some of them are between the most used and important of the FLOSS licenses, like:

  • GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).
  • GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL).
  • GNU Free Document License (GNU FDL).
  • GNU Affero General Public License (GNU AGPL).

All of these licenses are Copyleft licenses, so if you use some of them, the next derived works and modifications by other persons must use the same license, or at least other copyleft license compatible which ensure the freedom offered by the original copylefted license.
The FSF provides important resources to the community including FSF/UNESCO free software directory.
The FSF also does campaigns against threats to computer user freedom like Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and software patents.
Project hosting is something that also provide the FSF. They have their own forge called Savannah3 where are the most GNU projects and all which are developed by the FSF.

Finally the FSF also gives annual awards:

  • Award for the advancement of free software.
  • Free software award for projects of social benefit.

3. Internal structure

The FSF management and board is formed by the next people:

  • Richard M. Stallman (President).
  • Peter T. Brown (Controller and executive director).
  • John Sullivan (Manager of operations).
  • The Free Software Foundation board of directors:

Gerald J. Sussman (Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT).
Richard M. Stallman (Founder and president of the FSF).
Geoffry Knauth (Computer science instructor at Lycoming College).
Henri Poole (Founder of CivicActions).
Hal Abelson (Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT).
Benjamin Mako Hill (Fellow, MIT Center for the Future Media).
Bradley Kuhn (President of the Software Freedom Conservancy).

The FSF Board of Directors is elected by voting membership, but there aren’t known documents available that indicate the composition of FSF’s voting membership.
The FSF includes staff people who made different works in/for the FSF.
About the other members, the FSF counts with over 3000 active members from 48 countries, representing different profiles like as software engineers, hackers, students, and freedom activists.

4. Some projects

A few projects promoted by the FSF under the GNU Project are:

  • GCC: This is, probably, the most used compiler in the world, made by Richard Stallman and now maintained by the community.
  • GDB: This is the GNU debugger, also made by Richard Stallman and now maintained by the community.
  • GNU Grub: This is a multi-boot loader, was originally developed by Erich Stefan Boleyn and now maintained by the community.
  • Gimp: This is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and is used by make tasks about photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
  • Others: There are many projects indexed by the FSF and lot of them under the GNU project in the FSF Directory Project.


FSF in the Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software_Foundation#Structure
FSF official website. http://www.fsf.org/
FSF Directory Project. http://directory.fsf.org/

And that’s all, see u soon my friends!!

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