What is GNU/Linux-libre?

© Image Copyright: Alexandre Oliva / Free Software Foundation Latin America (FSFLA) / GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 (GFDL 1.2)

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GNU/Linux-libre is an alternative to macOS® and Windows® operating systems. The most fundamental difference is that GNU/Linux-libre can be freely used, copied, modified, and redistributed. The other two systems do not guarantee you the four essential freedoms of Free Software.

A GNU/Linux-libre Distribution is made up of the GNU Operating System of the Free Software Foundation, and the GNU Linux-libre kernel of the Free Software Foundation Latin America. Here you can read a bit about the history of the GNU operating system and the Linux kernel.

You can search among the major GNU+Linux distributions in DistroWatch and in Kernel.org.

Linux distributions that have been active the longest are Slackware (1992), openSuSE (1992), Debian (1993), and Red Hat Linux (1995), which became Fedora Core (from 1 to 6) in 2003, and then Fedora (7 and above) in 2007. From these distributions, others have been developed that are derived.

The reason why few people know about the GNU+Linux operating system is because the other two systems are factory pre-installed on personal computers.

However, that is changing thanks to companies such as System76, Tuxedo Computers, Think Penguin, RetroFreedom, TechnoEthical, Vikings, Libiquity, Raptor Computing Systems, Dell, and Lenovo.

Linux-libre is a project of the Free Software Foundation Latin America, that publishes and maintains distributions of the Linux kernel that are 100% free, and that are suitable for use in completely free distributions of GNU/Linux. On March 21, 2009, the Free Software Foundation Latin America published the first release of Linux-libre suitable for use.

The Free Software Foundation Latin America removes all software from the Linux kernel that does not include the source code, that has obfuscated and obscured source code, and that is distributed under Non-Free Software licenses.

The h-node Project is a 100% free software compatible hardware database. It is endorsed by the Free Software Foundation.

Trisquel GNU/Linux is a user-friendly GNU/Linux-libre distribution that contains the appropriate software for home users and for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It is also endorsed by the Free Software Foundation.

Is GNU/Linux-libre similar to Windows?

Many will wonder if a GNU/Linux-libre distribution is the same or similar to the Windows® system. The answer is no. In the same way that macOS® is not the same as Windows®, GNU/Linux-libre is not the same.

One very noticeable difference is that in Windows® you will see a Hard Drive (C:). If you connect a USB device, you will see a USB Disk (E:). In GNU/Linux-libre, you will not see letters to distinguish the disks. Storage devices are “mounted” to a directory (to a folder). But that is transparent to the user.

If you decide to use GNU/Linux-libre, you will be working with Free Software. You should get used to looking for alternatives to existing software in proprietary operating systems.

There are websites that provide you with this type of information:

For example, when someone using Windows tells you that you must install Adobe Reader to view PDF documents, if you use GNU/Linux-libre, you should look for an alternative, such as Evince. Once you know the name of the software you need, you should use the Software Installer that is included in GNU/Linux-libre to find and install it.

It’s a bit tedious at first, but it’s straightforward when you know the workflow.

You can contact me for additional information about the GNU/Linux-libre operating system.

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