You can find more on this subject on the original website www.gnu.org, I have learned the information written here from them directly. This page just want to fill a gap I saw here at wikiversity.
GNU is an operating system that is free software—that is, it respects users' freedom. The development of GNU made it possible to use a computer without software that would trample your freedom.
GNU is a Unix-like operating system. That means it is a collection of many programs: applications, libraries, developer tools, even games. The development of GNU, started in January 1984, is known as the GNU Project. Many of the programs in GNU are released under the auspices of the GNU Project; those we call GNU packages.
The name “GNU” is a recursive acronym for “GNU's Not Unix.” “GNU” is pronounced g'noo, as one syllable, like saying “grew” but replacing the r with n.
The program in a Unix-like system that allocates machine resources and talks to the hardware is called the “kernel”. GNU is typically used with a kernel called Linux. This combination is the GNU/Linux operating system. GNU/Linux is used by millions, though many call it “Linux” by mistake.
GNU's own kernel, The Hurd, was started in 1990 (before Linux was started). Volunteers continue developing the Hurd because it is an interesting technical project.
For the original Philosophy page please follow this link.
Free software means that the software's users have freedom. (The issue is not about price.) GNU developed the GNU operating system so that users can have freedom in their computing.
Specifically, free software means users have the four essential freedoms: (0) to run the program, (1) to study and change the program in source code form, (2) to redistribute exact copies, and (3) to distribute modified versions.
Software differs from material objects—such as chairs, sandwiches, and gasoline—in that it can be copied and changed much more easily. These facilities are why software is useful; we believe a program's users should be free to take advantage of them, not solely its developer.
Free Software and Education
How Does Free Software Relate to Education?
Software freedom plays a fundamental role in education. Educational institutions of all levels should use and teach Free Software because it is the only software that allows them to accomplish their essential missions: to disseminate human knowledge and to prepare students to be good members of their community. The source code and the methods of Free Software are part of human knowledge. On the contrary, proprietary software is secret, restricted knowledge, which is the opposite of the mission of educational institutions. Free Software supports education, proprietary software forbids education.
Free Software is not just a technical question; it is an ethical, social, and political question. It is a question of the human rights that the users of software ought to have. Freedom and cooperation are essential values of Free Software. The GNU System implements these values and the principle of sharing, since sharing is good and beneficial to human progress.
To learn more, see the Free Software definition and our article on why software should be free (as in freedom). The Basics
The GNU Project was launched in 1983 by Richard Stallman to develop a Free Libre operating system: the GNU operating system. As a result, today it is possible for anyone to use a computer in freedom.
- BLAG Linux and GNU, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Fedora.
- Dragora, an independent GNU/Linux distribution based on concepts of simplicity.
- Dynebolic, a GNU/Linux distribution with special four essential freedomsdeo editing.
- gNewSense, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian, with sponsorship from the FSF.
- Guix System Distribution is an advanced GNU/Linux distro built on top of GNU Guix (pronounced “geeks”), a purely functional package manager for the GNU system.
- Musix, a GNU+Linux distribution based on Knoppix, with special emphasis on audio production.
- Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, a distribution based on Arch that prioritizes simple package and system management.
- Trisquel, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that's oriented toward small enterprises, domestic users and educational centers.
- Ututo XS, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Gentoo. It was the first fully free GNU/Linux system recognized by the GNU Project.
Below is a list of small system distributions. These distributions are meant for devices with limited resources, like a wireless router for example. A free small system distribution is not self-hosting, but it must be developable and buildable on top of one of the free complete systems listed above, perhaps with the aid of free tools distributed alongside the small system distribution itself.
- libreCMC is an embedded GNU/Linux distro for devices with very limited resources. While primarily targeting routers, it offers support for a wide range of devices and use cases. In 2015, LibreWRT merged with libreCMC.
- ProteanOS is a new, small, and fast distribution for embedded devices. Its platform configuration feature allows binary packages to be configured at build-time and run-time for different hardware and use cases.