GNU and FSF News for March 2008

Posted 9 Mar 2008 at 11:59 UTC by robogato Share This

The Free Software Foundation wants your help to end software patents and boycott Trend Micro. The GNU Project is going to be participating in Google's Summer of Code again this year. Rumor has it that Microsoft may be planning a GNU Project killer with its own recursive acronym. For the fourth time in its history, rms has passed Emacs on to new maintainers. A new version of GCC is out. The Mozilla Foundation and GNOME Foundation are in kahoots to bring you new and improved software.

End Software Patents

The Free Software Foundation has announced a new project called End Software Patents. The goal of the project is to, well, end software patents. More specifically:

"The ESP project will initially focus on two approaches: 1) assisting corporations that choose to challenge software patents in the courts and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the basis that patents for software and designs with no physically innovative step have no legal validity, and 2) public education aimed at passing laws to protect software from patent law."

FSF Call to Boycott Trend Micro

The Free Software Foundation and Scriptum Libre has issued a call to Boycott Trend Micro because of their attack on users of the ClamAV anti-virus program. For more details on the boycott, see the FSF press release or the Scriptum Libre press release.

Microsoft: UNG's not GNU?

Slashdot picked up on a rumor that Microsoft may launch a GNU System rival called UNG, which is said to stand for UNG's not GNU. The only evidence offered is a portion of an alleged internal Microsoft email that refers to comments Steve Ballmer might have made on 23 February. Here's an excerpt from the email:

"The aim of UNG is to write complete GNU-like tools and frameworks that will be completely compatible with existing GNU software and standards. These tools will run natively on Vista. This means that software written for the GNU environment will be able to compile and run on Vista with little or no modifications. Major software currently running on GNU/Linux will be able to run natively on Vista."

GNU Project Participation in Google's SoC 2008

The GNU Project has published project proposal guidelines for Google's Summer of Code 2008. There is also a list of project suggestions.

New Emacs Maintainers

With a small post to emacs-devel, Richard Stallman accounced that he was handing over development of Emacs to Stefan Monnier and Yidong Chong. After this news was a bit over-hyped on Reddit and Slashdot, rms noted that it wasn't as historical of an event as it seemed. This is actually the fourth time Emacs development has been passed to someone else. The first three times Stallman eventually took over again. Still later he said, "People are writing as if I had announced my final retirement. This is just a matter of other people maintaining Emacs."

FSF Europe

The latest FSFE newsletter is out. It reports that, "on the 31st of January representatives from and FSFE's FTF met in Berlin to discuss the future of licence compliance in the European area." It also reports on the continued progress of the FSFE's Freedom Task Force project. There's also a mention of the SELF Open Documentary Contest:

"The SELF (Science, Education and Learning in Freedom) project has announced a SELF Open Documentary Contest where individuals and companies are invited to "create a documentary about the creation of free knowledge and education in the digital era".

GNU License News

Palamida's GPLv3 Information site reports the number of projects known to have made the switch to GPLv3 at 1895 as of this writing (plus another 290 under LGPLv3).

GNU Hurd

The Hurd project will participate in Google SoC 2008 on their own rather than under the umbrella of the GNU Project. It's hoped that this will allow them to projects and more exposure than in previous GSoCs. A project suggestion list is already up.

How you can help: The number of developers working on the Hurd and GNU Mach contiues to be small and they could use your help. Check in on the #hurd IRC channel or the bug-hurd mailing list. There should be no trouble finding interesting things to work on.


GCC Version 4.3.0 was released on 5 March, 2008. This is a major release that has been in development for some time. It contains many new features and improvements over GCC 4.2.x. There's also the usual bad news that a few processor architectures have been dropped. The biggest loss is TMS320C3x/C4x processor support, a very popular DSP used in image processing, robotics, and other fields. Also gone is support for National Semiconductor CRX and Morpho MT processors. Making up for those losses are the addition of ARMv7 and Thumb-2 support as well as support for CRIS v32 (aka Asix ETRAX FS and ARTPEC-3 CPUs). New ColdFire chips are also supported in GCC 4.3.0. The biggest addition is probably support for the Synergistic Processor Unit (SPU) of the Cell Broadband Engine Architecture (BEA). There are lots of other minor architecture additions and improvements.

This version of GCC also has many optimizer improvements including MPFR integration, forward propagation pass on RTL, inliner heuristic is now aware of stack frame consumption, and compile-time memory savings thanks to a new internal representation for GIMPLE statements.

GCC 4.3.0 includes experimental support for the upcoming ISO C++ standard, C++0x. There are other improvements and new features in C, C++, Fortran, and Java language support.

There's way too much cool new stuff to describe it all here, so see the full GCC 4.3.0 change log for all the details

How you can help: if you're interested in working on compiler development, visit the Contributing to GCC to find out what you can do help with the development of the GNU GCC compiler.


The GNOME Foundation announced a new level of collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation will join the GNOME Foundation advisory board and help set the long-term direction of the GNOME project. The Mozilla Foundation commits to better integration of GNOME, Firefox, and XUL. the Mozilla Foundation also granted the GNOME Foundation $10,000 to be spent on "improvement of the accessibility of the GNOME desktop environment via the "GNOME Outreach Program: Accessibility" program." For details see the GNOME press release.

GUADEC 2008 is over but you can see what you missed by looking at the many GUADEC photos on flickr.

How you can help: GNOME needs your help. In addition to programmers, the GNOME team also needs people to assist with testing, translation, accessibility, documentation, website maintenance, graphics, and marketing. To find out what you can do and how to get started, visit the Join GNOME webpage.

FSF High Priority Free Software Projects

The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of what they believe are the highest priority projects at any given time. If you're looking for something fun to work on or just want to make the world a better place, this is a good place to start.

"There is a vital need to draw the free software community's attention to the ongoing development work on these particular projects. These projects are important because computer users are continually being seduced into using non-free software, because there is no adequate free replacement. Please support these projects."

Where's RMS This Month?

RMS will be will be speaking on Copyright vs Community at Virginia Tech on 25 March. He'll speak on Free Software in Ethics and in Practice at the University of Richmond on 27 March. Later that day, he'll repeat the talk at the Virginia Commonwealth University. For the latest updates see the FSF upcoming events page.

This monthly news summary about the Free Software Foundation and GNU project was distilled down from FSF press releases, blogs, email lists, and website news pages. The idea is to provide a concise summary of FSF/GNU news from the past month for those who don't have the time or interest to find and read all the original news sources within that community. This is a news summary about the FSF but it is not produced by or associated with the FSF in any way.

I'm looking for a volunteer to take over writing this news summary each month. It's a minimal amount of work, taking no more than a few hours per month.

Recursive acronyms, posted 11 Mar 2008 at 20:06 UTC by fzort » (Journeyer)

Microsoft already jumped on the recursive acronym bandwagon: apparently XNA stands for "XNA is Not Acronymed".

So, in case you had a cute idea like this for the name of your next free software project, please reconsider. It's not cool any more.

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!

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