GNU/Linux and FLOSS

What is FLOSS?
FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open source Software) is software that promotes the sharing of ideas by allowing redistribution, viewing source, and modification of the software. These rights are protected by an open source license. Most common licenses include the GPL, LGPL, MIT, BSD, and Apache licenses.

What is an Operating System?

An operating system is set of software that allows a computer to run. An operating system usually includes:

  • A Kernel
  • An Init system
  • A shell (A way to interact with the computer)
  • Drivers (To interact with hardware)

What is Linux?

Linux is an open source kernel, licensed under the GPL. It was originally developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991.

What is a GNU/Linux distro?

GNU/Linux distributions are operating systems that have the Linux kernel at their core. Most distros are free of charge, although some cost money. (Their source code is always available for most core parts, but may include proprietary software).

Why GNU/Linux?

GNU/Linux distros make for great, inexpensive, and secure servers and powerful and configurable desktops. They are inexpensive, easy to upgrade and, contrary to popular belief, support hundreds of well known open source programs such as Firefox and LibreOffice. Support for proprietary software is also available, like games. (However, I personally don’t use very much proprietary software on GNU/Linux).

What’s with putting the “GNU” in front of Linux?

I think if differentiates the different applications of the Linux kernel. For example, I do not consider Android/Linux a GNU/Linux distro because it is built on different tools.

Would you consider ChromeOS or Android GNU/Linux?

Although they technically run the Linux kernel and can use GNU tools, they feel different from a “true” GNU/Linux system. ChromeOS is built upon GNU/Linux. That’s great and all, but you’re restricted to a web browser and stuck with many of Google’s web applications, and I find it to be a pain. Android is a whole other beast. It has some similarities to GNU/Linux, but often there are restrictions put on by phone carriers, slow or non-existent updates, an SDK with a restrictive license, a lack of root access (which is a must for any power user), and like ChromeOS, you’re often using Google’s services.

Why I use GNU/Linux:

I use GNU/Linux because it respects freedom. If I want to dig deeper, it also sharpens problem solving skills and is highly educational. I personally like the high amount of flexibility and ability to fine tune a desktop to my needs. I can get any GNU/Linux distro for my needs, or make one myself. All in all, it’s a great thing that keeps on getting better.


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