Salute The GNU Project
In 1960s, the America general electric company, MIT and the Bell Lab cooperated to develop an operating system called Multics. The programmers failed to achieve their initial goals but developed the Unix operating system instead. Later with the C language they invented, Thompson and Ritchie recompiled Unix and made some improvements based on the old version. Then Unix came to front and many people came to ask for the source code and joined in the development of the new operating system. During this period, there were two shining stars in the Unix world. One is the Bell lab and the other is the Berkeley, the Unix distribution who developed is later called BSD. However, the parent company of Bell Lab AT&T got rid of the anti-monopoly law and declared that the Unix they developed would no longer be a open source project and could only serve for commercial uses. This declaration brought about many copyright problems. BSD came into the picture and was involved in all kinds of lawsuits for a long time. That period exhausted people’s enthusiasm about BSD. Although BSD later developed its own Unix system which became the precursor of the MacOS, BSD missed the best opportunities to flourish. At that time, a man called Richard Stallman, the inventor of Emacs, was unsatisfied with situation and upset about programmers’ instrumentalism and materialism. In order to revive the free and open source spirit, he help to bring about the launch of GNU project. Richard opposed that software sellers would divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. Actually the sharing spirit he advocated is to some extent the core of the GNU project. In 1991 Linux developed by Linus Torvalds appeared and became the kernel of the GNU. Since then countless programmers from all around the world have dedicated themselves into the GNU project without even meeting or knowing each other, making GNU/Linux a giant in the world. Many people and organizations are impelled and inspired by the pioneers and predecessors, all plunging into the free software and open source movement. Countless achievements have been made, such as PHP、MySQL、Ruby、Node.js、X.Org、Gnome、KDE. Everyone knows about the free software movement and benefits a lot from the movement.
As a student with a major in Computer Science, I have to say GNU is such a great project that it will definitely benefit all people, both programmers and common users. For example, much wasteful duplication of system programming effort will be avoided, everyone is able to obtain a good system software free and will no longer be at the mercy of one programmer or company which owns the sources and is in sole position to make changes. What’s more, the spirit embodied in the project has great effects on many fields and has contributed a lot to the innovation and overall development of science and technology. I am humbled by the personal sentiments Richard and Linus have. They tell me with their behaviors what a real programmer should do.
Nowadays open source has gradually become a mode of education. As we all know, the essence of education is to learn experiences gathered by predecessors and to have a better understanding of the world more quickly. In this aspect, the development of science, education and open source movement take the same way. It is sharing instead of selfishness that will boost progress altogether and promote the innovation and development of society.