In October of 1985, soon after starting work on the GNU Project (in January of 1984) to create a complete, free operating system, the project's founder, Richard Stallman founded another organization to assist in his efforts to promote free software -- the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
According to it's Articles of Organization, filed with the state of Massachusetts, the non-profit organization's purpose is threefold:
- To encourage, foster, and promote "the free exchange of computer software and information related to computers and other technology."
- To disseminate "software and information related to computers and other technology."
- To increase "the public's access to computers and other high technology devices"
In pursuit of it's mission, the FSF began raising funds through membership fees, donations, and selling media loaded with free software. Monies raised were primarliy used to pay software developers to write programs like GNU Bash and others. Much of the FSF's financial resources are still used for this purpose, in addition to paying for office space, running web servers, and other expenses.
The FSF also monitors developments in the technosphere that may reduce or harm the freedoms of software users and develops and/or promotes campaigns to raise awareness of the problems and organize resistance to them. Two important ongoing campaigns currently run by the FSF are: the campaign to Stop DRM in HTML5 and one to prevent Microsoft from using "Secure Boot" to block users from installing operating systems of their choice on computers (and other devices) that they own.
Historically, an important function of the FSF has been GNU General Public License (GPL) enforcement. Early on, the FSF was the primary caretaker of the license, more recently, the Software Freedom Law Center has become the main entity ensuring GPL compliance. The FSF works closely with them to safeguard the software released under the GPL.
Along with the GNU project, the FSF has been a driving force behind the success of free software and the ability of users to use their computing devices in ways they see fit. If you'd like to help, please contact the Foundation to join or otherwise contribute to the success of their mission.
Copyright © 2013 Russell James
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.