What is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

Last Updated on December 7, 2020 by NewToLinux

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is software that is Free and Open Source! I know what you are thinking. I thought it about myself, so it’s OK.

Rather than get down in the weeds about public domain software, free software, open source software, and the different licenses, not to mention proprietary software, I will give a short history of how Linux became FOSS.

In 1971, Richard Stallman began his computer science studies at Harvard at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At the time, the group he worked with used free software. Programmers were able to cooperate and often did. Richard embraced this idea.

By the 1980s, most software had become proprietary, which took all freedom away from programmers to make the software better. Richard’s frustration led him to start the GNU Project in September 1983. The goal of the GNU Project was to have a free operating system for computers. In 1985, the Free Software Foundation was formed to help raise funds for the GNU Project.

By the early 1990’s most of the components for a computer operating system were complete in the GNU Project, except for the kernel. The original kernel project was called GNU_Hurd.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds began working on a Unix operating system replacement as a “hobby”. He referenced that his project was way smaller than GNU. Linus’ work eventually became the kernel for GNU in 1992.

The rest is history.

As you learn more about licenses, etc. of FOSS, there are different methodologies you can study below.

Sites to get in the weeds if you like: