The question says it all. Did Cannonical make any changes to the basic GNU/Linux OS before building Ubuntu on top of it, or is the full GNU/Linux still under there somewhere?

  • What exactly do you mean for GNU/Linux?. Sep 27 '10 at 19:35
  • @Javier Rivera I'm referring to the OS that the Free Software Foundation distribute on gnu.org (although they refer to it as the GNU Operating System).
    – user2405
    Sep 27 '10 at 20:31
  • There is no os being distributed on gnu.org. Voted to close. Sep 28 '10 at 6:40
  • I disagree with the close voting. The OP doesn't know a lot about the issue and deserves to learn from his question. You are being ridiculous and arrogant with that attitude. RTFHistory and don't tell others to RTFM.
    – Pedro Rolo
    Jun 5 '11 at 22:25
  • 4
    Calm down please pedrorolo. I agree with what you're saying, but you don't really need to call others ridiculous and arrogant :). Also, that comment was from 8 months ago. Jun 6 '11 at 1:47

Strictly speaking, Linux is the kernel that is used by various distributions. GNU is an organisation that developed and popularised a widely used free software license and also provide a home for various pieces of free software.

So there is no standard GNU/Linux operating system (despite what it says on gnu.org). There is GNU kernel (Hurd) but that is nowhere near being a production level kernel, though it is packaged by Debian among others.

There are multiple distributions that package up the Linux kernel and lots of GNU software (and X software, GNOME or KDE software, etc) and produce an easy to install and maintain operating system. Ubuntu is one of those distributions.

  • GNU also is the rights owner (in a copyright sense) of lots of free software. Sep 28 '10 at 6:41

There isn't really a "basic" GNU/Linux OS. Linux is an operating system kernel. A kernel is a set of protocols that allows the software on your computer to interact with the hardware on your computer.

A Linux "distribution," like Ubuntu, is a kernel plus a lot of useful software, including an installer, command line interface, editors, GUI, etc. A lot of this software has roots in the GNU project, which is why many people refer to a distribution as "GNU/Linux".

Most of the basic tools are the same across distributions. Canonical's contribution has mainly been to streamline the user experience in the installer and graphical user interface. Once you get under the hood, the tools are basically the same as in any other distribution.


Among these question and answers there are a lot of erroneous ideias.

An Operating System is a program or a set of programs that manage hardware resources and applications. Period.

This is what Linux does.

There are a lot of people that have written software that runs on Linux (That can interact with the hardware through Linux). And much of this software is open source.

Acctually, Linux by itself would not have served any purpose at the beginning without some basic applications to interact with it. A shell and a set of basic commands, like cp, mv, ls, etc, etc. When Linux was released, The GNU Software foundation had already released some POSIX-compillant set of applications that could be ran on any POSIX-compilant system (i.e. Linux). Thus, Linux has mostly (if not always) been distributed with this set of tools, and that is why some insist in calling it GNU Linux.

The GNU/Linux distributions are just collections of software that runs on Linux (including the former GNU applications) that ship together with GNU/Linux. Ubuntu is one of them.

As the quality of the distributions is important to their companies, sometimes they improve part of the software they distribute, and sometimes they create new software that is specifically tailored for their distributions.

Canonical (the company responsible for Ubuntu), has made a lot of improvements in applications that run on GNU/linux and has also created new applications that run on this system.

The best example of an application that is being written by Canonical is Unity, the new main ubuntu's graphical interface.


Ubuntu IS Linux, Fedora IS Linux, Slackware IS Linux etc.......

Ubuntu is just a distribution. Distributions basically just makes choices as to what to include and not include. Every distro tweaks things a bit but they're all Linux.

  • 1
    Debian is also BSD and Hurd. Nov 5 '10 at 2:26

I really consider them a whole operating system of their own. Though I like when they acknowledge their free software roots. The one answer above states it well. Yes, Ubuntu does use the Linux Kernel and the GNU Userspace. It also adds it's own technology, as well as the Debian infrastructure and package manager.

  • 1
    The OS is GNU/Linux, not ubuntu.
    – Pedro Rolo
    Jun 5 '11 at 22:42

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