What the hell...? Hang on, I'll get to it.
So Linux celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday, an event observed with a particularly good blog post on XDA
. If you didn't know, Linux powers great swaths of the Internet—including these forums—as well as the world's dominant operation system, Android. Full disclosure: the desktop computer that I'm posting this from also runs Linux, so I've a bit of bias here. B)
As awesome as Linux is, its software license is as big a deal or even bigger. Linux creator Linus Torvalds has called it "a defining factor" in the success of Linux; its official moniker is the GPL.
GPL is an acronym for the GNU General Public License
, which will hopefully explain the logo above. But GNU itself is also
a recursive acronym for "GNU's not UNIX"—some lame programmer humour from GPL creator Richard Stallman
, but also a pointed dig at the UNIX software running the mainframe computers that he used while studying at MIT. The GPL is quite unlike any other commercial software license in that it's founded on what Stallman calls the four freedoms
—and if this sounds like some hippie bs it absolutely is. Silicon Valley as we know it today has direct ties to Haight-Ashbury's 1967 Summer of Love
. Some forward-thinking minds back then saw how computers could change the world.