A European "sister organisation" to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was announced Friday by programmers from Germany to cater for the complexity and diversity of the international open source community.
After receiving a blessing from the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, the assembled programmers released a declaration of intent posted at the Foundation's new European Web site, www.fsfeurope.org and also launched its official mailing list.
"It has become evident that the FSF in the US, being in a totally different time and culture zone, can hardly keep in touch with the strong developments and currents in European Free Software," says founding member Georg Greve in a statement.
The creation of the satellite Foundation reflects the growing importance of software released under "Free Software" licences world-wide. This refers to software published under a licensing agreement that allows other programmers to view, copy and modify source code so long as it is reproduced under the same terms. The most widely known of these is the GNU General Public Licence (GPL), under which the GNU/Linux operating system is published.
The growing popularity of Linux, among businesses particularly, demonstrates the success that Free Software has seen in recent years. Linux is a variant of Unix built on a kernel created by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds. It can be downloaded for free over the Internet and is built by thousands of programmers from around the world.
According to EuroLinux, an organisation that promotes Linux and Free Software in Europe, this development shows the importance of having international representation.
"It is really important that Europe gets some structure for its Free Software community," says a EuroLinux spokesman. "Lots of Free Software developers live in Europe. Linux was of course started in Europe."
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