What is GNU/Linux?

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What is GNU/Linux?

The simple answer is that GNU/Linux is an alternative Operating System (OS) you can use on your PC, instead of Microsoft Windows or Apple's (Mac) OS X. As you probably know, before you can do anything on your PC (or Mac- for our purposes, a Mac is really just a PC, or Personal Computer), whether its playing games, music or word processing, you need an OS. GNU/Linux is FLOSS and can be legally downloaded and used free of charge.

Isn't GNU/Linux unpopular?

Over 35% of websites, including this website, run on GNU/Linux and over 67% of websites run on GNU/Linux's cousin, UNIX. Most supercomputers are running GNU/Linux. It is only as a desktop OS that GNU/Linux is at an estimated low 1.5-2%. That number continues to rise as more people discover and are empowered by GNU/Linux, however.

How can GNU/Linux be free?

Because GNU/Linux is not make by any one person or organization. GNU/Linux is possible thanks to the contributions of countless individuals and groups who volunteer their time and effort towards making software under free and open-source software licenses. Large corporations also spend their resourcing on improving these products because it directly or indirectly benefits them and their own business models.

Is all software on GNU/Linux free (as in gratis)?

No. There are many paid software applications available on GNU/Linux. This webmaster personally thinks this a good thing and should be encouraged. There is nothing wrong with charging for honest work, and it encourages software development and self-empowerment for many programmers.

However, the majority of software on GNU/Linux is available for free, so if you're broke or cheap, rejoice! If you're not, I highly encourage you to donate to those programmers that make such software possible and practical. Giving is better than receiving, but both are necessary and nice!

Who created GNU/Linux?

Although an incredible amount of people have contributed to making GNU/Linux what it is today, the two principle components of GNU/Linux are credited to Richard Stallman with The GNU Project in 1983 and Linus Torvalds with the Linux kernel in 1991.

Usually, GNU/Linux is shortened to simply “Linux”, but both are major and indispensable parts of GNU/Linux. It's a little cumbersome to go against the “norm” and call it by its full name, but I think it's important.

Stallman's GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation are not just useful software projects. They are philosophically and ideologically important, too.

Does GNU/Linux have a mascot?

GNU is represented by a cartoon gnu (also called a wildebeest) and Linux by a cartoon penguin. Each particular GNU/Linux distro usually has its own symbol, logo or mascot in addition to this.

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