GNU/Linux is an operating system: a series of programs that let you interact with your computer and run other programs.
作業系統由許多基礎程式組成，它們是讓電腦接受使用者指令並與之溝通的必要程式；讀取資料或將其寫入硬碟、磁帶或印表機；控制記憶體的使用；以及執行其它軟體。作業系統最重要的部分是核心。在 GNU/Linux 系統中，就是以 Linux 為核心。而系統的其他部分則是由其他程式組成，這些程式主要由 GNU 計畫所提供，或者是針對 GNU 計畫所編寫的。因為單獨的 Linux 核心不能成為一個可以正常工作的作業系統，所以我們更傾向使用 “GNU/Linux” 一詞來表達人們常用的 “Linux”。
GNU/Linux is modelled on the Unix operating system. From the start, GNU/Linux was designed to be a multi-tasking, multi-user system. These facts are enough to make GNU/Linux different from other well-known operating systems. However, GNU/Linux is even more different than you might imagine. In contrast to other operating systems, nobody owns GNU/Linux. Much of its development is done by unpaid volunteers.
Development of what later became GNU/Linux began in 1984, when the Free Software Foundation began development of a free Unix-like operating system called GNU.
The GNU Project has developed a comprehensive set of free software tools for use with Unix™ and Unix-like operating systems such as GNU/Linux. These tools enable users to perform tasks ranging from the mundane (such as copying or removing files from the system) to the arcane (such as writing and compiling programs or doing sophisticated editing in a variety of document formats).
While many groups and individuals have contributed to GNU/Linux, the largest single contributor is still the Free Software Foundation, which created not only most of the tools used in GNU/Linux, but also the philosophy and the community that made GNU/Linux possible.
Linus Torvalds continues to coordinate the work of several hundred developers with the help of a number of subsystem maintainers. There is an official website for the Linux kernel. Information about the
linux-kernel mailing list can be found on the linux-kernel mailing list FAQ.
GNU/Linux users have immense freedom of choice in their software. For example, they can choose from a dozen different command line shells and several graphical desktops. This selection is often bewildering to users of other operating systems, who are not used to thinking of the command line or desktop as something that they can change.
GNU/Linux is also less likely to crash, better able to run more than one program at the same time, and more secure than many operating systems. With these advantages, Linux is the fastest growing operating system in the server market. More recently, Linux has begun to be popular among home and business users as well.