About the Free Software Directory
by Janet Casey
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The Free Software Directory is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It catalogs useful free software that runs under free operating systems, particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants.
The Directory maintainer verifies the license for every package in the directory by opening each package and checking the license of each source code file. Almost 90% of the packages included are under the GPL or LGPL, but any package under a license we consider acceptably free (see this list), that runs on a free OS, and that does not depend on non-free software can be included.
The Directory has grown enormously since its inception in late 1999. It now has almost 3,300 packages, each one individually checked as described above. The scope of the Directory has also broadened: the original template for a Directory entry had 30 possible fields; the current template has 47. Licensing issues with Qt and PHP4 have been resolved, so packages that use Qt or are written in PHP4 are now included. Originally, almost all packages had command line interfaces; now Web-based and GUI packages account for roughly a third of the Directory.
The Directory accounts for between 40 and 45% of the traffic on the FSF's Web site; in a recent five day period, it had almost 2.5 million total hits.