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Cygnus Solutions

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Title: Cygnus Solutions  
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Subject: Cygwin, Red Hat, John Gilmore (activist), GNU Binutils, ArcSight
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Cygnus Solutions

Cygnus Solutions
Industry Computer software
Fate Merged with Red Hat
Successors Red Hat
Founded 1989
Defunct 2000
Key people John Gilmore, Michael Tiemann, and David Henkel-Wallace
Products Compilers, debuggers, development tools, eCos, Cygwin

Cygnus Solutions, originally Cygnus Support, was founded in 1989 by John Gilmore, Michael Tiemann and David Henkel-Wallace to provide commercial support for free software. Its tagline was: Making free software affordable.

For years, employees of Cygnus Solutions were the maintainers of several key GNU software products, including the GNU Debugger and GNU Binutils (which included the GNU Assembler and Linker). It was also a major contributor to the GCC project and drove the change in the project's management from having a single gatekeeper to having an independent committee. Cygnus developed BFD, and used it to help port GNU to many architectures, in a number of cases working under non-disclosure to produce tools used for initial bringup of software for a new chip design.

Cygnus was also the original developer of Cygwin, a POSIX layer and the GNU toolkit port to the Microsoft Windows operating system family, and of eCos, an embedded real-time operating system.

In the 2001 documentary film Revolution OS, Tiemann indicates that the name "Cygnus" was chosen from among several names that incorporated the acronym "GNU". According to Stan Kelly-Bootle, it was recursively defined as Cygnus, your GNU Support.[1]

On November 15, 1999, Cygnus Solutions announced its merger with Red Hat, and ceased to exist as a separate company in early 2000. As of 2007, a number of Cygnus employees continue to work for Red Hat, including Tiemann, who serves as Red Hat's Vice President of Open Source Affairs, and formerly served as CTO. Red Hat did not retain the trademark to Cygnus Solutions, nor the domain.


  1. ^   (NB. The article refers to and cites from Stan Kelly-Bootle's original article "FAQs of Life" in the "Devil's Advocate" column of UNIX Review, July 1994, where CYGNUS is recursively defined as "Cygnus, your GNU Support".)

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