FLOSSUK used to be called the UK Unix Users Group, it is a name we loved but it no longer reflected the world we existed in and we knew we had to grow and change, to adapt to the modern environment. If you look around you may still see some web resources and email addresses by that name, because we were formed as a company using it we would have difficulties changing, and anyway we are proud of our roots.
There are many computer operating systems either descended from or at least inspired by the original Unix system as designed by AT&T back in the 1970s. Most of the larger systems used by modern consumers, Apple OSX, Android, Linux are children of UNIX parents.
The main thing that made Unix a success back in the early days was a willingness for people to co-operate and share the source code of software they were developing. This is not a new phenomena and dates back through the centuries in science, literature, music and art. The trade of ideas, themes and resources is how we progress as a global culture. Thus our underlying principle is itself hundreds if not thousands of years old and forms the basis of scholarship and scientific method
FLOSSUK is run by an elected Council which meets regularly to organise events, supported by the Secretariat in the office.
Floss stands for Free and Libre Open Source Software, however as an organisation we also support Open Technology and Open Data so we like to think our name can also mean Free and Libre Open Source Systems. The term Libre is used because the meaning of Free in English is ambiguous. It can mean both free as in gratis – ‘a free lunch’ and the freedom to take what is already known and given and be able to build upon it. Libre means ‘at Liberty’ it means to use, to change, to build upon not to be in receipt without gratis.
Standing on the shoulders of giants is the common phrase used to convey the benefit that humanity has gained from this co-operative way of working.
See also the Wikipedia article for further information on the Free vs. Libre distinction.
Free software has been an important part of the appeal of the Unix operating system ever since its first days. Academic institutions were granted source licenses to AT&T Unix and form the early days made and shared with each other important contributions such as the first TCP/IP networking that allowed the early Internet to exist that was developed in BSD Unix.