[ILUG-BOM] What Are UNIX, Linux, and GNU?

Navin Dhanuka navindhanuka at gmail.com
Fri Jan 3 11:16:57 IST 2020


What Are UNIX, Linux, and GNU?
UNIX is a proprietary, command-line-based operating system originally
developed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson (among others) at AT&T's Bell
Labs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. UNIX is coded almost entirely in
the C programming language (also invented by Ritchie) and was originally
intended to be used as a portable and convenient OS for programmers and
researchers. As a result of a long and complicated legal history
<https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/07/should-we-thank-for-feds-for-the-success-of-unix>
involving
AT&T, Bell Labs, and the federal government, UNIX and UNIX-like operating
systems grew in popularity, as did Thompson's influential philosophy of a
modular, minimalist approach to software design.

During this period, Richard Stallman launched the GNU Project
<https://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.html> with the goal of
creating "an operating system that is free software." GNU, confusingly,
stands for "GNU's Not UNIX." This project is responsible for the UNIX-like
GNU OS. Stallman also launched the related Free Software Foundation (FSF)
on the principle that "any user can study the source code, modify it, and
share the program" for any participating software.

I'll go deeper into what makes up an operating system in a minute, but the
plot thickened when, essentially, the development of a very important
low-level component called the kernel or GNU Hurd did not fully
materialize. This is where Linux, a kernel developed by Linus Torvalds
among others, entered the picture. According to GNU
<https://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html>:

"Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the
machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an
essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only
function in the context of a complete operating system."

GNU purists argue that references to Linux as the complete operating system
that exists today should instead be written as GNU/Linux
<https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html>, in acknowledgment of the
pair's symbiotic relationship. Others tend to focus on the fact that Linux
(with no prefix) has become a more mainstream term and the logic behind the
GNU/Linux nomenclature could expand ad nauseam to GNU/Linux/Windowing
System Name/Desktop Environment Name/Etc. For the purpose of this guide,
I'll use GNU/Linux.

Other UNIX-like operating system options exist too, notably FreeBSD and
Qubes OS, which work with their own kernels and software. The histories of
these projects could fill many books, but this brief summation should be
enough to contextualize some terms you may come across.

More @ https://in.pcmag.com/windows-10/134555/what-is-gnulinux

-- 
Navin Dhanuka
~~~~~~~~~~~
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed
is more important than any other thing. :: Abraham Lincoln ::


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