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HolidayBuyer's Guide

GCC is not an open-source program

In response to the report written by Stephen Shankland, "Key open-source programming tool due for overhaul":

I appreciate the admiration expressed in your article about upgrading the GNU Compiler Collection, but it erred in describing the program as an "open source" programming tool. I developed GCC as part of the Free Software Movement--so that people can use computers in freedom as part of a community.

Free software means software that respects the users' freedom. The philosophy of the movement is that users of software should be free to run it, study it, change it, redistribute it and publish modified versions.

With these freedoms, you're free to engage in cooperative development; you're also free to develop it on your own or to redistribute it unchanged. Describing this as a "philosophy of cooperative development" emphasizes one beneficial consequence of freedom at the expense of freedom itself.

It was impossible in 1984 to use a computer in freedom, since all the operating systems were proprietary. So I launched the development of GNU, a free Unix-like operating system.

A Unix-like system must include a C compiler, so I wrote one: GCC. I designed it to handle other languages, also, so that GNU users could use more than one. GCC, like the GNU/Linux operating system in which GCC is a crucial part, exists because of the ideals of the Free Software Movement--the ideals that are forgotten when speaking of open source.

Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
Initial developer of GCC