A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete informal diary-style text entries. Posts are displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page; until 2009, blogs were the work of a single individual of a small group, covered a single subject or topic. In the 2010s, "multi-author blogs" emerged, featuring the writing of multiple authors and sometimes professionally edited. MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, think tanks, advocacy groups, similar institutions account for an increasing quantity of blog traffic; the rise of Twitter and other "microblogging" systems helps integrate MABs and single-author blogs into the news media. Blog can be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog; the emergence and growth of blogs in the late 1990s coincided with the advent of web publishing tools that facilitated the posting of content by non-technical users who did not have much experience with HTML or computer programming.
A knowledge of such technologies as HTML and File Transfer Protocol had been required to publish content on the Web, early Web users therefore tended to be hackers and computer enthusiasts. In the 2010s, the majority are interactive Web 2.0 websites, allowing visitors to leave online comments, it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking service. Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but often build social relations with their readers and other bloggers. However, there are high-readership blogs. Many blogs provide commentary on topic, ranging from politics to sports. Others function as more personal online diaries, others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company. A typical blog combines text, digital images, links to other blogs, web pages, other media related to its topic; the ability of readers to leave publicly viewable comments, interact with other commenters, is an important contribution to the popularity of many blogs.
However, blog owners or authors moderate and filter online comments to remove hate speech or other offensive content. Most blogs are textual, although some focus on art, videos and audio. In education, blogs can be used as instructional resources; these blogs are referred to as edublogs. Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring short posts. On 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. On 20 February 2014, there were around 172 million Tumblr and 75.8 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. According to critics and other bloggers, Blogger is the most popular blogging service used today. However, Blogger does not offer public statistics. Technorati lists 1.3 million blogs as of February 22, 2014. The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997; the short form, "blog", was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999. Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.
Before blogging became popular, digital communities took many forms including Usenet, commercial online services such as GEnie, Byte Information Exchange and the early CompuServe, e-mail lists, Bulletin Board Systems. In the 1990s, Internet forum software created running conversations with "threads". Threads are topical connections between messages on a virtual "corkboard". From 14 June 1993, Mosaic Communications Corporation maintained their "What’s New" list of new websites, updated daily and archived monthly; the page was accessible by a special ``. The earliest instance of a commercial blog was on the first business to consumer Web site created in 1995 by Ty, Inc. which featured a blog in a section called "Online Diary". The entries were maintained by featured Beanie Babies that were voted for monthly by Web site visitors; the modern blog evolved from the online diary where people would keep a running account of the events in their personal lives. Most such writers journalers. Justin Hall, who began personal blogging in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College, is recognized as one of the earlier bloggers, as is Jerry Pournelle.
Dave Winer's Scripting News is credited with being one of the older and longer running weblogs. The Australian Netguide magazine maintained the Daily Net News on their web site from 1996. Daily Net News ran links and daily reviews of new websites in Australia. Another early blog was Wearable Wireless Webcam, an online shared diary of a person's personal life combining text, digital video, digital pictures transmitted live from a wearable computer and EyeTap device to a web site in 1994; this practice of semi-automated blogging with live video together with text was referred to as sousveillance, such journals were used as evidence in legal matters. Some early bloggers, such as The Misanthropic Bitch, who began in 1997 referred to their online presence as a zine, before the term blog entered common usage. Early blogs were manually updated components of common Websites. In 1995, the "Online Diary" on
Everything2, or E2 for short, is a collaborative Web-based community consisting of a database of interlinked user-submitted written material. E2 has no formal policy on subject matter. Writing on E2 covers a wide range of topics and genres, including encyclopedic articles, diary entries, poetry and fiction; the predecessor of E2 was a similar database called Everything, started around March 1998 by Nathan Oostendorp and was closely aligned with and promoted by the technology-related news website Slashdot sharing some administrators. The Everything1 software offered vastly more features, the Everything1 data was twice incorporated into E2: once on November 13, 1999, again in January 2000; the Everything2 server used to be colocated with the Slashdot servers. However, some time after OSDN acquired Slashdot, moved the Slashdot servers, this hosting was terminated on short notice; this resulted in Everything2 being offline from November 6 to December 9, 2003. Everything2 was hosted by the University of Michigan for a time.
As the Everything2 site put it on October 2, 2006: Now, we have an arrangement with the University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor. We exist thanks to their generosity, they gave us some servers and act as our ISP, free of charge, all they ask in exchange is that we not display advertisements. The Everything2 servers were moved to the nearby Michigan State University in February 2007. E2 was owned by the Blockstackers Intergalactic company, but does not make a profit and is viewed by its long-term users as a collaborative work-in-progress; until mid-2007 it accepted donations of money and, on occasion, of computer hardware but no longer does so. Some of its administrators are affiliated with Blockstackers, some are not; the site is not a democracy, the degree to which users influence decisions depends on the nature of the decisions and the administrators making them. As of January 23, 2012, it was announced that the site had been sold to long-time user and coder Jay Bonci under the name Everything2 Media LLC.
Writeups in E1 were limited to 512 bytes in size. This, plus the predominantly "geek" membership back and the lack of chat facilities, meant the early work was of poor quality and was filled with self-referential humor; as E2 has expanded, stricter quality standards have developed, much of the old material has been removed, the membership has become broader in interest, although smaller in number. Many noders prefer to write encyclopedic articles similar to those on Wikipedia; some write fiction or poetry, some discuss issues, some write daily journals, called "daylogs." Unlike Wikipedia, E2 does not have an enforced neutral point of view. An informal survey of noder political beliefs indicates that the user base tends to lean left politically. There are conservative voices as well and while debate nodes are tolerated, well-formed points of view from any part of the political or cultural spectrum are. According to E2's "Site Trajectory", traffic has dropped from 9976 new write-ups created in the month of August 2000, down to 93 new write-ups in February 2017.
Some of the management regard Everything2 as a publication. Although Everything2 does not seek to become an encyclopedia, a substantial amount of factual content has been submitted to Everything2. Policy states that "Everything2 is not a bulletin board." Writeups which exist as replies to other writeups, or which add a minor point to them or which otherwise do not stand well alone are discouraged, not least because the deletion of the original writeup orphans any replies. This policy helps to moderate flame wars on controversial topics. Everything2 is not a wiki, there is no direct way for non-content editors to make corrections or amendments to another author's article. Avenues for correction involve discussing the writeup with its author. Like other online communities, E2 has a social hierarchy and code of behavior, to which it is sometimes difficult for a newcomer to adjust. Moreover, some people complain that new users are held to a different standard from established contributors, that their writeups are singled out for deletion regardless of content.
Another complaint is that all too site administrators remove articles that they do not agree with or which they do not see explicit value in, thus biasing the content of the database. Others dismiss such complaints as unjustified. There is no consistent, written site policy on acceptable behavior, although the usual intolerance for trolling or hatemongering remains, as is the case with most web-based communities. Bans have occurred for antisocial and/or insulting behaviour, albeit rarely and only after a more personal approach to change the offender's behavior. Though these decisions are broadly accepted, some current and ex-members of the site believe that this amounts to mismanagement, point to accumulation of disgruntled ex-users as evidence of a problem. A noder will request their E2 account be locked, preventing them from logging in; the causes for this are varied as the causes f
Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee known as TimBL, is an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He is a professor of computer science at the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he made a proposal for an information management system on March 12, 1989, he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol client and server via the internet in mid-November the same year. Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees the continued development of the Web, he is the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com founders chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative, a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. In 2011, he was named as a member of the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation, he is a founder and president of the Open Data Institute, is an advisor at social network MeWe.
In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. In April 2009, he was elected a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Named in Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Berners-Lee has received a number of other accolades for his invention, he was honoured as the "Inventor of the World Wide Web" during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared in person, working with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium. He tweeted "This is for everyone", spelled out in LCD lights attached to the chairs of the 80,000 people in the audience. Berners-Lee received the 2016 Turing Award "for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale". Berners-Lee was born in London, United Kingdom, one of four children born to Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee, his parents worked on the first commercially built computer, the Ferranti Mark 1.
He attended Sheen Mount Primary School, went on to attend south west London's Emanuel School from 1969 to 1973, at the time a direct grant grammar school, which became an independent school in 1975. A keen trainspotter as a child, he learnt about electronics from tinkering with a model railway, he studied at The Queen's College, from 1973 to 1976, where he received a first-class bachelor of arts degree in physics. While he was at university, Berners-Lee made a computer out of an old television set, which he bought from a repair shop. After graduation, Berners-Lee worked as an engineer at the telecommunications company Plessey in Poole, Dorset. In 1978, he joined D. G. Nash in Ferndown, where he helped create type-setting software for printers. Berners-Lee worked as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980. While in Geneva, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. To demonstrate it, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE.
After leaving CERN in late 1980, he went to work at John Poole's Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, Dorset. He ran the company's technical side for three years; the project he worked on was a "real-time remote procedure call" which gave him experience in computer networking. In 1984, he returned to CERN as a fellow. In 1989, CERN was the largest internet node in Europe, Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the internet: I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta-da!—the World Wide Web... Creating the web was an act of desperation, because the situation without it was difficult when I was working at CERN later. Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the internet, multifont text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together, it was a step of generalising, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being part of a larger imaginary documentation system.
Berners-Lee wrote his proposal in March 1989 and, in 1990, redistributed it. It was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall, who called his proposals'vague, but exciting', he used similar ideas to those underlying the ENQUIRE system to create the World Wide Web, for which he designed and built the first Web browser. His software functioned as an editor, the first Web server, CERN HTTPd. Mike Sendall buys a NeXT cube for evaluation, gives it to Tim. Tim's prototype implementation on NeXTStep is made in the space of a few months, thanks to the qualities of the NeXTStep software development system; this prototype offers WYSIWYG browsing/authoring! Current Web browsers used in'surfing the internet' are mere passive windows, depriving the user of the possibility to contribute. During some sessions in the CERN cafeteria, Tim and I try to find a catching name for the system. I was determined that the name should not yet again be taken from Greek mythology..... Tim proposes'World-Wide Web'. I like this much, except that it is difficult to pronounce in French... by Robert Cailliau, 2 November 1995.
The first website was built at CERN. Despite this being an international organisation hosted by Switzerland, the office that Berners-Lee used was just across the border in France; the website was put online on 6 August 1991 for the first time: info.cern.ch was th
Slashdot is a social news website that billed itself as "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters", it features news stories on science and politics that are submitted and evaluated by site users and editors. Each story has a comments section attached to it; the website was founded in 1997 by Hope College students Rob Malda known as "CmdrTaco", classmate Jeff Bates known as "Hemos". In 2012, they sold it to DHI Group, Inc.. In January 2016, BizX acquired Slashdot Media, including SourceForge. Summaries of stories and links to news articles are submitted by Slashdot's own users, each story becomes the topic of a threaded discussion among users. Discussion is moderated by a user-based moderation system. Randomly selected moderators are assigned points. Moderation applies either −1 or +1 to the current rating, based on whether the comment is perceived as either "normal", "offtopic", "insightful", "redundant", "interesting", or "troll"; the site's comment and moderation system is administered by its own open source content management system, available under the GNU General Public License.
In 2012, Slashdot had around 3.7 million unique visitors per month and received over 5300 comments per day. The site has won more than 20 awards, including People's Voice Awards in 2000 for "Best Community Site" and "Best News Site". At its peak use, a news story posted to the site with a link could overwhelm some smaller or independent sites; this phenomenon was known as the "Slashdot effect". Slashdot was preceded by Rob Malda's personal website "Chips & Dips", launched in October 1997, featured a single "rant" each day about something that interested its author – something to do with Linux or open source software. At the time, Malda was a student at Hope College in Holland, majoring in computer science; the site became "Slashdot" in September 1997 under the slogan "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters," and became a hotspot on the Internet for news and information of interest to computer geeks; the name "Slashdot" came from a somewhat "obnoxious parody of a URL" – when Malda registered the domain, he desired to make a name, "silly and unpronounceable" – try pronouncing out, "h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slashdot-dot-org".
By June 1998, the site was seeing as many as 100,000 page views per day and advertisers began to take notice. Slashdot was co-founded by Jeff Bates. By December 1998, Slashdot had net revenues of $18,000, yet its Internet profile was higher, revenues were expected to increase. On June 29, 1999, the site was sold to Linux megasite Andover.net for $1.5 million in cash and $7 million in Andover stock at the Initial public offering price. Part of the deal was contingent upon the continued employment of Malda and Bates and on the achievement of certain "milestones". With the acquisition of Slashdot, Andover.net could now advertise itself as "the leading Linux/Open Source destination on the Internet". Andover.net merged with VA Linux on February 3, 2000, which changed its name to SourceForge, Inc. on May 24, 2007, became Geeknet, Inc. on November 4, 2009. Slashdot's 10,000th article was posted after two and a half years on February 24, 2000, the 100,000th article was posted on December 11, 2009 after 12 years online.
During the first 12 years, the most active story with the most responses posted was the post-2004 US Presidential Election article "Kerry Concedes Election To Bush" with 5,687 posts. This followed the creation of a new article section, politics.slashdot.org, created at the start of the 2004 election on September 7, 2004. Many of the most popular stories are political, with "Strike on Iraq" the second-most-active article and "Barack Obama Wins US Presidency" the third-most-active; the rest of the 10 most active articles are an article announcing the 2005 London bombings, several articles about Evolution vs. Intelligent Design, Saddam Hussein's capture, Fahrenheit 9/11. Articles about Microsoft and its Windows Operating System are popular. A thread posted in 2002 titled "What's Keeping You On Windows?" was the 10th-most-active story, an article about Windows 2000/NT4 source-code leaks the most visited article with more than 680,000 hits. Some controversy erupted on March 9, 2001 after an anonymous user posted the full text of Scientology's "Operating Thetan Level Three" document in a comment attached to a Slashdot article.
The Church of Scientology demanded that Slashdot remove the document under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A week in a long article, Slashdot editors explained their decision to remove the page while providing links and information on how to get the document from other sources. Slashdot Japan is an official offshoot of the US-based Web site; as of January 2010 the site was owned by OSDN-Japan, Inc. and carried some of the US-based Slashdot articles as well as localized stories. An external site, New Media Services, has reported the importance of Online Moderation last December 1, 2011. On Valentine's Day 2002, founder Rob Malda proposed to longtime girlfriend Kathleen Fent using the front page of Slashdot, they were married on December 2002, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Slashdot implemented a paid subscription service on March 1, 2002. Slashdot's subscription model works by allowing users to pay a small fee to be able to view pages without banner ads, starting at a rate of $5 per 1,000 page views – non-subscribers may still view articles and respo
Eric S. Raymond
Eric Steven Raymond referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, author of the cited 1997 essay and 1999 book The Cathedral and the Bazaar and other works, open-source software advocate. He wrote a guidebook for the Roguelike game NetHack. In the 1990s, he edited and updated the Jargon File in print as The New Hacker's Dictionary. Raymond was lived in Venezuela as a child, his family moved to Pennsylvania in 1971. He has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth. Raymond began his programming career writing proprietary software, between 1980 and 1985. In 1990, noting that the Jargon File had not been maintained since about 1983, he adopted it. Paul Dourish maintains an archived original version of the Jargon File, because, he says, Raymond's updates "essentially destroyed what held it together."In 1996 Raymond took over development of the open-source email software "popclient", renaming it to Fetchmail. Soon after this experience, in 1997, he wrote the essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", detailing his thoughts on open-source software development and why it should be done as as possible.
The essay was based in part on his experience in developing Fetchmail. He first presented his thesis at the annual Linux Kongress on May 27, 1997, he expanded the essay into a book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, in 1999. The internal white paper by Frank Hecker that led to the release of the Mozilla source code in 1998 cited The Cathedral and the Bazaar as "independent validation" of ideas proposed by Eric Hahn and Jamie Zawinski. Hahn would describe the 1999 book as "clearly influential". From the late 1990s onward, due in part to the popularity of his essay, Raymond became a prominent voice in the open source movement, he co-founded the Open Source Initiative in 1998, taking on the self-appointed role of ambassador of open source to the press and public. He remains active in OSI, stepped down as president of the initiative in February 2005. In 1998 Raymond received and published a Microsoft document expressing worry about the quality of rival open-source software.
Eric named this document, together with others subsequently leaked, "the Halloween Documents". In 2000–2002 he created CML2, a source code configuration system. Raymond attributed this rejection to "kernel list politics". Linus Torvalds on the other hand said in a 2007 mailing list post that as a matter of policy, the development team preferred more incremental changes, his 2003 book The Art of Unix Programming discusses user tools for programming and other tasks. Raymond is the administrator of the project page for the GPS data tool gpsd; some versions of NetHack include his guide. He has contributed code and content to the free software video game The Battle for Wesnoth. Raymond coined an aphorism he dubbed "Linus's Law", inspired by Linus Torvalds: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", it first appeared in his book the Bazaar. Raymond has refused to speculate on whether the "bazaar" development model could be applied to works such as books and music, not wanting to "weaken the winning argument for open-sourcing software by tying it to a potential loser".
Raymond has had a number of public disputes with other figures in the free software movement. As head of the Open Source Initiative, he argued that advocates should focus on the potential for better products; the "very seductive" moral and ethical rhetoric of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation fails, he said, "not because his principles are wrong, but because that kind of language... does not persuade anybody". In a 2008 essay he "defended the right of programmers to issue work under proprietary licenses because I think that if a programmer wants to write a program and sell it, it's neither my business nor anyone else's but his customer's what the terms of sale are". In the same essay he said that the "logic of the system" puts developers into "dysfunctional roles", with bad code the result. Raymond is a member of the Libertarian Party, he is a gun rights advocate. He has endorsed the open source firearms organization Defense Distributed, calling them "friends of freedom" and writing "I approve of any development that makes it more difficult for governments and criminals to monopolize the use of force.
As 3D printers become less expensive and more ubiquitous, this could be a major step in the right direction."In 2015 Raymond accused the Ada Initiative and other women in tech groups of attempting to entrap male open source leaders and accuse them of rape, saying "Try to avoid being alone because there is a chance that a'women in tech' advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp."Raymond is known for claiming that “Gays experimented with unfettered promiscuity in the 1970s and got AIDS as a consequence” and that “Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist.” Progressive campaign The Great Slate was successful in raising funds for candidates in part by asking for contributions from tech workers in return for not posting similar quotes by Raymond. Matasano Security employee and Great Slate fundraiser Thomas Ptacek said, “I’ve been torturing Twitter with lurid Eric S. Raymond quotes for years.
Every time I do, 20 people beg me to stop.” It is estimated that as of March 2018 over $30,000 has been raised in this way
Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing and hardware. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon and Facebook. Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph. D. students at Stanford University in California. Together they own about 14 percent of its shares and control 56 percent of the stockholder voting power through supervoting stock, they incorporated Google as a held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004, Google moved to its headquarters in Mountain View, nicknamed the Googleplex. In August 2015, Google announced plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate called Alphabet Inc. Google is Alphabet's leading subsidiary and will continue to be the umbrella company for Alphabet's Internet interests. Sundar Pichai was appointed CEO of Google.
The company's rapid growth since incorporation has triggered a chain of products and partnerships beyond Google's core search engine. It offers services designed for work and productivity, email and time management, cloud storage, instant messaging and video chat, language translation and navigation, video sharing, note-taking, photo organizing and editing; the company leads the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser. Google has moved into hardware. Google has experimented with becoming an Internet carrier. Google.com is the most visited website in the world. Several other Google services figure in the top 100 most visited websites, including YouTube and Blogger. Google is the most valuable brand in the world as of 2017, but has received significant criticism involving issues such as privacy concerns, tax avoidance, antitrust and search neutrality. Google's mission statement is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".
The companies unofficial slogan "Don't be evil" was removed from the company's code of conduct around May 2018. Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in Stanford, California. While conventional search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page, the two theorized about a better system that analyzed the relationships among websites, they called this new technology PageRank. Page and Brin nicknamed their new search engine "BackRub", because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site, they changed the name to Google. The domain name for Google was registered on September 15, 1997, the company was incorporated on September 4, 1998, it was based in the garage of a friend in California. Craig Silverstein, a fellow PhD student at Stanford, was hired as the first employee. Google was funded by an August 1998 contribution of $100,000 from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems.
Google received money from three other angel investors in 1998: Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Stanford University computer science professor David Cheriton, entrepreneur Ram Shriram. Between these initial investors and family Google raised around 1 million dollars, what allowed them to open up their original shop in Menlo Park, California After some additional, small investments through the end of 1998 to early 1999, a new $25 million round of funding was announced on June 7, 1999, with major investors including the venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital. In March 1999, the company moved its offices to Palo Alto, home to several prominent Silicon Valley technology start-ups; the next year, Google began selling advertisements associated with search keywords against Page and Brin's initial opposition toward an advertising-funded search engine. To maintain an uncluttered page design, advertisements were text-based. In June 2000, it was announced that Google would become the default search engine provider for Yahoo!, one of the most popular websites at the time, replacing Inktomi.
In 2003, after outgrowing two other locations, the company leased an office complex from Silicon Graphics, at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California. The complex became known as the Googleplex, a play on the word googolplex, the number one followed by a googol zeroes. Three years Google bought the property from SGI for $319 million. By that time, the name "Google
GNU General Public License
The GNU General Public License is a widely-used free software license, which guarantees end users the freedom to run, study and modify the software. The license was written by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation for the GNU Project, grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the Free Software Definition; the GPL is a copyleft license, which means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD licenses and the MIT License are widely-used examples. GPL was the first copyleft license for general use; the GPL license family has been one of the most popular software licenses in the free and open-source software domain. Prominent free-software programs licensed under the GPL include the Linux kernel and the GNU Compiler Collection. David A. Wheeler argues that the copyleft provided by the GPL was crucial to the success of Linux-based systems, giving the programmers who contributed to the kernel the assurance that their work would benefit the whole world and remain free, rather than being exploited by software companies that would not have to give anything back to the community.
In 2007, the third version of the license was released to address some perceived problems with the second version that were discovered during its long-time usage. To keep the license up to date, the GPL license includes an optional "any version" clause, allowing users to choose between the original terms or the terms in new versions as updated by the FSF. Developers can omit it; the GPL was written by Richard Stallman in 1989, for use with programs released as part of the GNU project. The original GPL was based on a unification of similar licenses used for early versions of GNU Emacs, the GNU Debugger and the GNU C Compiler; these licenses contained similar provisions to the modern GPL, but were specific to each program, rendering them incompatible, despite being the same license. Stallman's goal was to produce one license that could be used for any project, thus making it possible for many projects to share code; the second version of the license, version 2, was released in 1991. Over the following 15 years, members of the free software community became concerned over problems in the GPLv2 license that could let someone exploit GPL-licensed software in ways contrary to the license's intent.
These problems included tivoization, compatibility issues similar to those of the Affero General Public License—and patent deals between Microsoft and distributors of free and open-source software, which some viewed as an attempt to use patents as a weapon against the free software community. Version 3 was developed to attempt to address these concerns and was released on 29 June 2007. Version 1 of the GNU GPL, released on 25 February 1989, prevented what were the two main ways that software distributors restricted the freedoms that define free software; the first problem was that distributors may publish binary files only—executable, but not readable or modifiable by humans. To prevent this, GPLv1 stated that copying and distributing copies or any portion of the program must make the human-readable source code available under the same licensing terms; the second problem was that distributors might add restrictions, either to the license, or by combining the software with other software that had other restrictions on distribution.
The union of two sets of restrictions would apply to the combined work, thus adding unacceptable restrictions. To prevent this, GPLv1 stated that modified versions, as a whole, had to be distributed under the terms in GPLv1. Therefore, software distributed under the terms of GPLv1 could be combined with software under more permissive terms, as this would not change the terms under which the whole could be distributed. However, software distributed under GPLv1 could not be combined with software distributed under a more restrictive license, as this would conflict with the requirement that the whole be distributable under the terms of GPLv1. According to Richard Stallman, the major change in GPLv2 was the "Liberty or Death" clause, as he calls it – Section 7; the section says that licensees may distribute a GPL-covered work only if they can satisfy all of the license's obligations, despite any other legal obligations they might have. In other words, the obligations of the license may not be severed due to conflicting obligations.
This provision is intended to discourage any party from using a patent infringement claim or other litigation to impair users' freedom under the license. By 1990, it was becoming apparent that a less restrictive license would be strategically useful for the C library and for software libraries that did the job of existing proprietary ones; the version numbers diverged in 1999 when version 2.1 of the LGPL was released, which renamed it the GNU Lesser General Public License to reflect its place in the philosophy. Most "GPLv2 or any version" is stated by users of the license, to allow upgrading to GPLv3. In late 2005, the Free Software Foundation announced work on version 3 of the GPL. On 16 January 2006, the first "discussion draft" of GPLv3 was published, the public consultation began; the public consultation was planned for ni