ARCHIVED: What do the acronyms FSF, GPL, LPF, and RMS mean?

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The FSF is the Free Software Foundation, originally founded by Richard Stallman. Its goal is to provide software for use by the world that isn't founded on the principles of stringent patent laws, high prices, or restrictive copyrights. The FSF's largest project is GNU, a Unix replacement and programmer's environment. FSF has a long list of pending projects, such as music editors, word processing packages, games, and programming tools.

FSF projects are very dynamic, involving open participation in testing and development. They are generally covered by a "copyleft" (such as the GNU General Public License), which makes a program copyrighted in the sense that its author still has intellectual right to the code, but it is freely reusable. For details, see the GNU copyleft page.

For more on GNU and the FSF, visit the following web pages:


GPL stands for General Public License and also is commonly called a copyleft.

GPL software is free not in the sense of monetary price, but in that an owner is free to give away or sell copies, and to change the software or use pieces of it for reference or for other programs. The restrictions of the license, however, require that you keep the same rights open for any end user of any modified version of the same software.

A copy of the GPL is included in any software that is covered by it.


The LPF is the League for Programming Freedom, a grassroots organization aimed at protecting the rights of programmers. They fight to eliminate software patents and virtual monopolies in computing, and to provide fairness in lawsuits concerning copyrights and patents. The LPF folks research pending patents to see whether any are being unjustly awarded; when a patent is being issued to a company for something that had previously been invented, they search for proof of prior art to negate the patent request. They also help to publicize lawsuits involving computer patents or trademarks. The LPF was originally started by Richard Stallman, and although it supports the efforts of Stallman's FSF (Free Software Foundation) and his GNU project, it is more of a lobbying organization and does not develop software or programs. Visit the LPF website.


RMS stands for Record Management Services, a group of routines that process and manage files for VMS.

Coincidentally, RMS also are the initials of Richard Matthew Stallman, most commonly known for his work with the Free Software Foundation, the League for Programming Freedom, and the GNU project, all of which he initiated. He is also well known as the author of the Emacs editor. He formerly worked with the Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab at MIT.

At Indiana University, for personal or departmental Linux or Unix systems support, see Get help for Linux or Unix at IU.

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Last modified on 2018-01-18 09:24:04.