Что такое GNU/Linux?

When you hear the word Linux, you may think of programmers with a beard typing obscure code on a black screen. Good news! Things have changed.

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GNU/Linux is an operating system, a large piece of software that manages a computer. It is similar to Microsoft Windows, but it is entirely free. The accurate name is GNU/Linux but "Linux" is used more often.

GNU/Linux is not one company's product, but a number of companies and groups of people contribute to it. In fact, the GNU/Linux system is a core component, which is branched off into many different products. They are called distributions.

Distributions change the appearance and function of GNU/Linux completely. They range from large, fully supported complete systems (endorsed by companies) to lightweight ones that fit on a USB memory stick or run on old computers (often developed by volunteers).

Using GNU/Linux

GNU/Linux is no harder to use than Windows, and has many more capabilities. It just takes a dozen minutes to get familiar with a distribution like the ones we recommend for newcomers, which come in with many programs installed.

If you need commercial-quality software to work with business documents, Internet/networking, or multimedia and graphics, it's there right out of the box. Want more than that? GNU/Linux can do – there are many hundreds of free, high quality applications you can find, install and uninstall neatly and easily.

You shouldn't assume however, that GNU/Linux is a clone of Windows. To know what to expect when stepping into it, we suggest you read our Making the switch page.

Ubuntu screenshot
Ubuntu screenshot

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When you get a distribution of GNU/Linux, you also get the freedom to study, copy, change, and redistribute it – that's what makes it truly free software.

Many companies develop their own operating system based on the core GNU software: products they do not have exclusive rights on. How does the wheel turn?

  • Большинство компаний получают прибыль, продавая поддержку и сервисы для своего дистрибутива GNU/Linux. Корпоративные клиенты платят за гарантированные обновления безопасности и помощь. В перечень сервисов также часто входят тренинги и улучшения ПО на заказ.
  • Some companies, such as HP or IBM, contribute to GNU/Linux because they pre-install it on servers they sell.
  • Невероятно широкое сообщество принимает участие в разработке и улучшении ПО, уменьшая затраты и увеличивая его эффективность.

В конце этой цепочки, индивидуальные пользователи, как правило, получают программное обеспечение бесплатно, в то время как корпоративные пользователи часто рады заплатить за большее количество поддержки.