Most us newbies* who are just beginning to love and understand what we call “Linux OS” do not know that it is “GNU/Linux”. GNU is the operating system that we use, and linux is its kernel software. So it is more justified to call GNU/Linux just GNU(g’noo). But calling it Linux is taking away all the credits from GNU/Free Software community.
Richard Stallman, the founder of Free Software Foundation, began working on a free operating system in 1983 in protest towards proprietary softwares that deprived users of freedom on their copy of software, which was 8 years before first release of Linux kernel. In the beginning GNU was a bunch of free softwares, tools and libraries licensed under General Public License, which gave users and end-users complete freedom on their own copy of software.
In 1992, Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux Kernel, began working on Linux with Linux community. The GNU project started their own kernel called The Hurd in 1990 which was a very interesting project. But developing kernel is very complex and requires constant maintainance. We all know, Linus and community is still working on releasing the complete stable release of Linux Kernel till date. Linux popularity grew in 1991 when Linus released first version under GPL license to the world.
Seeing this, Richard Stallman planned to incorporate Linux kernel into GNU. With Linux kernel, which was last piece of software, GNU was now finally complete as an Operating System. GNU community now named their operating system GNU/Linux or GNU+Linux.
With power of Linux kernel and software support from GNU, GNU/Linux operating system was able to run flawlessly even on lower end computer devices. Students, Researchers, Hobbiest, Programmers and others who were not able to pay license fee to use binary blobs and propreitary softwares were now able to run this free operating system.
This was truly a remarkable contribution in the world of computer softwares. Programmers and Engineers got involved deeply with the development of GNU/Linux and Linux as well. However, through the development period of more than 26 years, people including non-programmers are now introduced GNU with the name “Linux”. People unknowingly called GNU, Linux.
GNU/Linux code consist of 80% code contributed by GNU community and 20% code by Linux community. Some users also use proprietary code with GNU. Even after this, the operating system we love so much should’nt be called anything but GNU/Linux. Calling it GNU(g’noo) will be more correct than just calling it Linux.
GNU and free software are truly the projects contributing to the betterment of humanity and research. And each and every contribution is like a selfless service to the freedom of users. Calling GNU with different name won’t change a thing, but if you honour freedom and those who contributed, give credits to them and free software foundation by calling it GNU or GNU/Linux.
newbies: Those who have used GNU as desktop operating system for less than 4 years.