GNU/Linux is a term used to describe an operating system that combines the GNU (GNU’s Not Unix) software with the Linux kernel. The GNU project, initiated by Richard Stallman, aimed to create a free, open-source, Unix-like operating system. By combining the GNU utilities with Linus Torvalds’ Linux kernel, a robust, fully functional, and widely-used open-source operating system was formed.


The phonetics for the keyword GNU/Linux can be pronounced as: “G-N-U slash Linux”, where “G-N-U” is pronounced as individual letters and “Linux” is pronounced as “lin – uhks” or “leen – uks.”

Key Takeaways

  1. GNU/Linux is an open-source operating system that combines the GNU software with the Linux kernel, offering users a free and fully customizable computing environment.
  2. As GNU/Linux is built on a Unix-like architecture, it offers supreme multitasking, superior stability, and widespread community support, making it popular among developers and enterprises.
  3. With a variety of available distributions, GNU/Linux is adaptable to different user needs, ranging from beginner-friendly desktop environments like Ubuntu and Fedora to minimalistic, specialized distros like Arch and Kali Linux for advanced users.


The technology term GNU/Linux is important because it represents a combination of two essential components in the world of open-source software: the GNU Project and the Linux Kernel.

Created by Richard Stallman, the GNU Project aimed to develop a free, Unix-like operating system, whereas the Linux Kernel, developed by Linus Torvalds, serves as the core component of said operating system.

By working together, these two creations form the basis of numerous widely-used operating systems, including popular distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora.

The term GNU/Linux highlights the collaborative nature of open-source software and acknowledges the critical role of both projects in providing free, customizable, and powerful alternatives to proprietary operating systems.


GNU/Linux is an operating system that serves as a platform to run software applications on PCs, servers, embedded systems, and other devices. At its core, GNU/Linux combines the principles of free software and open-source development, granting users the freedom to use, modify, and distribute the system as they see fit. Born out of the collaboration between the GNU project and the Linux kernel, the OS delivers a highly customizable, robust, and versatile environment, which has driven its adoption by an extensive range of users such as developers, IT professionals, and enterprises.

Due to its stable and secure nature, it has become the backbone of countless servers, powering the internet and running various mission-critical applications. GNU/Linux also serves as a hub for developers worldwide, enabling them to create new and innovative software solutions. As a result, it has fostered a diverse ecosystem of applications and utilities tailored to address specific problems.

Over time, numerous Linux distributions – or “distros” – have emerged, each catering to particular audiences, use cases, and hardware requirements. Prominent examples include Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian, which offer diverse desktop environments, package management systems, and support options. As such, GNU/Linux’s flexibility and adaptability have contributed to sustained growth in both professional and personal computing.

No matter the user’s background, GNU/Linux offers the tools and community support necessary to drive productivity, creativity, and innovation.

Examples of GNU/Linux

Supercomputers: The majority of the world’s fastest and most powerful supercomputers run on GNU/Linux operating systems. Examples of such supercomputers include Summit in the United States, Sierra, also in the United States, and Fugaku in Japan. These supercomputers support advanced scientific research, weather predictions, and complex simulations.

Android OS: The Android operating system, used in billions of smartphones and other devices worldwide, is based on the Linux kernel that powers GNU/Linux operating systems. Android’s popularity in the mobile market is due to its open-source nature and support for a wide range of hardware, including tablets, televisions, and smartwatches.

Large-scale web servers: Many high-profile websites and servers, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon Web Services, are powered by GNU/Linux operating systems. Companies choose GNU/Linux because of its reliability, scalability, and adaptability, allowing them to handle millions of user requests and maintain high performance and uptime.


What is GNU/Linux?

GNU/Linux is a free and open-source operating system that uses the Linux kernel and GNU software and utilities. It is often referred to as a “Linux distribution” (or “distro”) and provides users with many tools and features common in modern operating systems.

How do GNU and Linux relate to each other?

GNU stands for “GNU’s Not Unix” and is a project, started by Richard Stallman, that aims to provide users with a completely free and open-source alternative to proprietary Unix systems. Linux, on the other hand, is a kernel developed by Linus Torvalds to provide core functionalities like process and memory management. Combining the GNU tools and utilities with the Linux kernel forms the complete operating system known as GNU/Linux.

What are some popular GNU/Linux distributions?

There are many GNU/Linux distributions available, but some popular ones include Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and Arch Linux. Each distribution has its own unique features, user interface, and software management system.

How do I install a GNU/Linux distribution?

Installing a GNU/Linux distribution involves downloading an ISO image of the distribution, creating a bootable USB drive or CD/DVD, and following the installation process specific to the chosen distribution. Most distributions provide detailed installation guides on their official websites.

What are the benefits of using GNU/Linux?

GNU/Linux provides numerous benefits, such as increased security, customizability, and the ability to run on many different types of hardware. Additionally, it is free and open-source, meaning users can modify, share, and distribute the software without any restrictions.

How can I learn more about GNU/Linux?

There are many resources available for learning about GNU/Linux, such as the official websites of various distributions, online forums, tutorials, and books. Getting involved in the community and trying out different distributions can help enhance your understanding and appreciation for the wide range of options and features GNU/Linux has to offer.

Related Technology Terms

  • Open Source Software
  • Linux Kernel
  • GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  • Linux Distribution

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