GNU Hurd at Sourceforge Page

Sourceforge Hurd Pages

This page is maintained by various members of the GNU/Hurd project team. We are making use of several of the facilities generously provided by the Sourceforge site to support the development of our port and the creation of new software.

This page is not officially sanctioned by the FSF, although it contains information reproduced from the FSF pages. Much of the content on this page consists of links to the FSF pages.

What is the Hurd?

The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. The Hurd is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux).

Currently, the Hurd runs on i386 machines. There are some efforts underway to run the Hurd on PowerPC architecture as well. The Hurd should, and probably will, be ported to other hardware architectures or other microkernels in the future.

Advantages of the Hurd

The Hurd is not the most advanced operating system known to the planet (yet), but it does have a number of enticing features:
it's free software
Anybody can use, modify, and redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). The Hurd is part of the GNU system, which is a complete operating system licensed under the GPL.
it's compatible
The Hurd provides a familiar programming and user environment. For all intents and purposes, the Hurd is a modern Unix-like kernel. The Hurd uses the GNU C Library, whose development closely tracks standards such as ANSI/ISO, BSD, POSIX, Single Unix, SVID, and X/Open.
it's built to survive
Unlike other popular kernel software, the Hurd has an object-oriented structure that allows it to evolve without compromising its design. This structure will help the Hurd undergo major redesign and modifications without having to be entirely rewritten.
it's scalable
The Hurd implementation is aggressively multithreaded so that it runs efficiently on both single processors and symmetric multiprocessors. The Hurd interfaces are designed to allow transparent network clusters (collectives), although this feature has not yet been implemented.
it's extensible
The Hurd is an attractive platform for learning how to become a kernel hacker or for implementing new ideas in kernel technology. Every part of the system is designed to be modified and extended.
it's stable
It is possible to develop and test new Hurd kernel components without rebooting the machine (not even accidentally). Running your own kernel components doesn't interfere with other users, and so no special system privileges are required. The mechanism for kernel extensions is secure by design: it is impossible to impose your changes upon other users unless they authorize them or you are the system administrator.
it exists
The Hurd is real software that works Right Now. It is not a research project or a proposal. You don't have to wait at all before you can start using and developing it.

What the name ``Hurd'' means

According to Thomas Bushnell, BSG, the primary architect of the Hurd, ```Hurd' stands for `Hird of Unix-Replacing Daemons'. And, then, `Hird' stands for `Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth'. We have here, to my knowledge, the first software to be named by a pair of mutually recursive acronyms.''

Status of the project

The last official release was the 0.2 binary distribution of June 1997. At the moment, the Hurd developers and people from the Debian Project are assembling a new distribution; it will become the 0.3 distribution.

The new distribution will use the Debian package management system to ease installation and updating the system. This package management system is the same one used in Debian GNU/Linux distributions. In parallel to the Linux distribution, the upcoming Hurd distribution is called Debian GNU/Hurd.

These efforts are ongoing, but the fundamental packages are ready and quite stable. If you want to try out the Hurd, it is recommended that you use the links on this site to download the current version of the system. Note that this is an "unstable" distribution, in that it is not currently read for use in a production environment. However, it is rapidly evolving and is already quite useful for development use by people with Linux experience.

Some of these links are at other web sites not maintained by our project. We cannot be responsible for the content of these other web sites.

Please send GNU/Hurd inquiries & questions to

Please send FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to There are also other ways to contact the FSF.

Please send comments on these web pages to bfulgham@debianorg, send other questions to

Copyright (C) 1998, 1999 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: 19 Jan 2000 bfulgham

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