Free Software Foundation

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Free Software Foundation
legal form 501 (c) (3)
founding 4th October 1985
founder Richard Stallman
Seat Boston, MA, USA
main emphasis Promotion of free software
Managing directors William John Sullivan
sales $ 1,294,906 (2016)
Employees 12
Members 5000 (2019)

The Free Software Foundation ( FSF , German  Foundation for Free Software ) is a non-governmental foundation that was founded as a non-profit organization by Richard Stallman in 1985 with the purpose of promoting free software and raising funds for this work. John Sullivan has been Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation since 2011 (as of December 30, 2016).

Until the mid-1990s, the FSF's funds were mainly used to hire programmers to develop free software. Since many companies and individuals began to write free software on their own, the work of the FSF has increasingly focused on legal and structural issues of the free software community.

Work of the FSF

The main task of the FSF is the financial, personnel, technical and legal support of the GNU project (and thus, in addition to the software, also the GPL , LGPL , AGPL and GFDL licenses ). In addition to this work, the FSF also endeavors to provide general advice, reporting and education about free software .

The project includes the preparation and communication around the creation of the new version of the GNU licenses.

The GPL Compliance Lab project endeavors to punish legal violations of the GNU General Public License , but also of other GNU licenses, and to provide legal support to rights holders in the event of violations of the licenses and to advise them accordingly. Questions relating to software licensing are also answered in this context .

The software of the GNU project is doing alongside other software from GNU Savannah project ge hosting that provides an infrastructure for the development and coordination of free software.

The Free Software Directory serves as the central directory of free software.


The FSF campaign Defective by Design started getting the better of the Digital Rights Management ( English Digital Rights Management, DRM , the FSF as Digital Restrictions Management referred) defends. The Free Software Foundation sees DRM as the danger of “destroying the digital future”.

The Badvista campaign against Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system is intended to educate computer users about the disadvantages of the proprietary operating system. In addition, free operating systems, which give the user more freedom, are presented as alternatives. One of the criticisms is that the device drivers can be deactivated with every update if Microsoft decides to do so. This is to be done with the devices of those manufacturers that Microsoft believes it provides inadequate protection against circumventing the intended use restrictions .

Product Certification Program (RYF)

The FSF operates a Respects Your Freedom (RYF) product certification program to promote the manufacture and sale of hardware that respects the user's freedom and privacy. In order to meet the requirements, a product must use 100% free software , be free of back doors and meet other requirements.

At the end of 2015, 9 products were certified according to RYF, including laptops , a 3D printer , a WLAN router , and a USB wireless access point .


Board members

Sister organizations

The Free Software Foundation Europe was founded on March 10, 2001 to represent the interests of free software in Europe . Since there is currently no general Europe-wide regulation for non-profit organizations, the FSFE acts as an umbrella organization for the so-called chapters in the different countries of Europe. As a sister organization of the Free Software Foundation in the USA , it concentrates its activities in the vicinity of the GNU project, but does not limit itself to it. The president of FSFE is Matthias Kirschner.

The FSFE sees it as its main task to coordinate free software initiatives in Europe, to provide a competence center for politicians, lawyers and journalists and to provide the infrastructure for free software projects and especially the GNU project.

In 2003 the Free Software Foundation India was founded in Kerala . On November 23, 2005 the FSLA - Free Software Foundation Latin America was founded in Rosario , Argentina.


On November 25, 2002, the FSF launched the FSF Associate Membership Program for individuals. In March 2005, more than 3,400 members had registered.

On March 5, 2003, the Corporate Patron Program for companies was launched. 45 companies are now supporting this project.


The Free Software Foundation, which has for its part given the FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software since 1998 and the Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit since 2005 , has received several important awards:

See also

Portal: Free Software  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of Free Software

Web links

Commons : Free Software Foundation  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Digital Restrictions Management and Treacherous Computing .
  2. What's wrong with Microsoft Windows Vista .
  3. ^ Josh Gay: Respects Your Freedom hardware certification requirements. Free Software Foundation, January 27, 2012, accessed February 4, 2014 .
  4. ^ Joshua Gay: Respects Your Freedom hardware product certification. Free Software Foundation, October 9, 2012, accessed November 4, 2017 .
  5. Ann Marsh: What I Saw at the Revolution: A filmmaker captures the free-software insurgents. In: Stanford Magazine. 2002, archived from the original on December 14, 2005 ; Retrieved October 6, 2010 (January / February 2002).
  6. ( Memento from October 30, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Document texts - Free Software Foundation Europe e. V. (PDF; 3.5 MB) In: Social market economy in globalization - 45th Theodor Heuss Prize - award ceremony, colloquium and autumn conference 2010. Theodor Heuss Foundation , 2010, pp. 106–107 , accessed on January 3 2017 .