Whenever someone says “Linux” the first thing that comes to our mind is the word “Operating System” but sir let me tell you that Linux is not an Operating System.
In this article, we will see what Linux actually is and how it is different from GNU/Linux.
Before going through this article we recommend you to read: What is Linux? Intdouction to Linux OS
Is Linux an Operating System?
Linux is not an Operating System by itself, but a “Kernel (the core of an OS) Kernel is a computer program which is responsible for the communication between the Application software and system hardware. Other parts of the OS such as the compiler used to compile the kernel, Bash command-line shell, shell utilities (all the basic commands you would use on a command line) are all developed by a different group of developers.
The Linux distributions assemble all these software from different developers including the Linux kernel to built a complete operating system.
The GNU Project
The popularity which Linux has gained in today’s time is also because of Richard Stallman the founder of the GNU project. In 1984, Stallman a brilliant programmer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) set on a journey to build a completely free and Open Source Operating System that he would donate to the world. After determining that his Operating System would be built around the conceptual framework of UNIX, Stallman decided to name his project different from UNIX so he chose a recursive acronym GNU(Ga-new), which means “GNU’s not UNIX”.
By 1991, The GNU project had finished many of the pieces such as the GNU c compiler(GCC), command line shell, many shell utilities and more. However, the core part: kernel was missing as GNU wanted an Ambitious microkernel design for its kernel, as of now the Kernel is still under development since 1990.
Linux came into the picture
In 1991, Linus Torvalds releases the first version of the Linux Kernel, distributors at that time were having enough software to build the complete Operating System, so they assembled the Linux Kernel and GNU tools to build the complete Operating System known as “GNU/Linux” or commonly known as Linux(But Linux actually refers to the kernel only). The Linux Distros we see now like Ubuntu, Mint, Kali Linux are actually the combination of the Linux Kernel and other Free software.
We conclude from this that “Linux” is not an Operating System, it is actually the Kernel which is powering up thousands of Linux Distributions.