What is GNU/Linux?

What is GNU/Linux?

In 1991, Linus Torvalds began writing the program for an operating system kernel which he called Linux. At that time the GNU Project was searching for a kernel to render the GNU system operational while wainting for its own kernel, Hurd, to be developped. Thus the Linux kernel became a component of the GNU system. This combined system is called GNU/Linux.

GNU/Linux has gained a favorable reputation for its strength and reliability. This is partly due to the freedom granted by its component software. Access to the source code allows for fast and easy correction of programming errors.

GNU/Linux is strongly POSIX (1), which makes it very similar to most existing proprietary Unix systems. The Linux kernel is multi-task, multi-user, and incorporates most recent technological advances such as SMP, clustering, RAID, etc...

Today, GNU/Linux is used both by businesses and end users.

Many free software applications are available for the non-professional computer user. For example, the desktop manager Gnome allows one to use the computer without using command lines. The Gimp is a very powerful image manipilation program. Gnumeric is the spreadsheet component of the Gnome project. These are just a few examples, there are many more applications that are immeasurably useful. The system's reliability and security (viruses are rare and have limited impact) offer yet more reasons to choose GNU/Linux. Many packaged (bundled?) distributions of GNU/Linux are available and installation has been made easy.

For businesses, there is a vast array of possible applications. The sturdiness of the system coupled with the high quality of the available networking applications (e.g. Apache) make GNU/Linux the system of choice for network servers (the GNU/Linux Apache combination is the one most used worldwide for internet servers). Its development tools (particularly the GNU tools: Emacs, gcc, cvs...) make GNU/Linux a powerful and pleasant development platform.

Today, the GNU/Linux system is used by over 10 million people worldwide, and many software publishers release their own versions of GNU/Linux (distributions). The most popular distributions are Debian, RedHat, Mandriva (ex Mandrake), and SuSE.

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POSIX is a set of standards defining an ideal UNIX system.

English translation by Katixa Rybalka.