is it acceptable to edit and replace Linux with GNU/Linux (when used in the context of the whole os and not the kernel) .

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    I've voted this up, because it is a valid question.
    – 8128
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 14:46

4 Answers 4


This discussion occurred earlier in chat but the end result is that 'Ubuntu' is the GNU/Linux operating system. So all mentions of Linux should be in reference to the kernel as a whole. All references to Linux which would be considered Linux as an operating system solution (GNU/Linux) should be Ubuntu or removed all together from the title due to redundancies. If the question isn't in the scope of Ubuntu - but instead a broader GNU/Linux family it belongs on Unix & Linux StackExchange



  • As much as it might be technically incorrect, to all but the most extreme, the two phrases are synonymous. RMS might not like it, you might not like it, but that's language for you.

    What the poster means (the important bit) when they say "Linux" is usually pretty simple to understand from the context, in my experience. Just as you can understand the different meanings of "lead" (element Pb or the verb "to lead") based on the sentence, you can divine if the poster is talking about an operating system or a Kernel.

    If the meaning can't be inferred from its context, then there's a problem.

    Edit You've linked in another thread about using correct terminology with regards to launchers, panels and docks. In these cases they are not synonyms. To use one in place of another makes it very hard to understand the meaning.

  • Once we get past the ideology and phraseology, editing every instance of "Linux" to "GNU/Linux" needs a massive buy in of time. If you were to take that time and invest it in making questions more understandable, correcting answers or even writing new answers, you'd help the site a whole lot more.

    A system-performed search-and-replace would not be good either as we'd end up breaking the context of posts that were talking about Linux-the-Kernel and not Linux-the-OS.

  • Edits should only be considered if they add value. Editing tags makes things easier to find, editing questions should make them easier to understand and make them answerable, and editing answers should make them easier to follow or more accurate.

    Edits that don't follow those rules (removing salutations, etc) end with posts needlessly being bumped.

    Simple edits should not be performed unless they're part of a valuable edit. And even then I wouldn't bother replacing "Linux" with "GNU/Linux" as it might just confuse the OP.

Edit This got discussed in Chat a couple of times over the day and I still haven't been convinced.

I don't want to draw this out any further so lets just say: if you want to call it GNU/Linux or just Linux in your own posts (there are various valid uses of the word "Linux" in posts where "Ubuntu" wouldn't suffice), that's fine. But don't edit it in or out of other people's posts. It wasn't the OP's wish and (as with the list of MMOs thread) it bumps the question right up for no reason. Essentially, it hurts the site and wastes your time.

I can't speak for the other mods but if I see an edit doing that, I'll roll it back. If you edit it back, I'll suspend you. That goes for everybody. In both directions.

But that's enough on this. It's nowhere near important enough to have warranted all the keystrokes it's already attracted. Move along. Nothing to see here.

As I say, this might not be the policy that Marco and Stefano follow but I'll treat edits for something as trivial as this completely needless and may roll them back. If you persist, I'll treat it as intentional vandalism and take firm action.

I'm not saying this as a threat -- if there's a good reason for an edit, that's fine -- but needless editing shouldn't be encouraged or abided.

  • so what if its simple it is wrong terminology . and according to this (meta.askubuntu.com/questions/1263/…) correct terminology should be preferred .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 11:56
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    " Just as you can understand the different meanings of "lead" (element Pb or the verb "to lead") based on the sentence " so is it correct to stop calling pencil as pencil and call it lead since the internal part is made of lead .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 11:57
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    The differences between launchers and docks are much harder to differentiate and when they are used incorrectly, they're actually incorrect (the user meant to use a different word). "Linux", like it or not, does mean both "the Kernel" and "the GNU/Linux-based distribution" to the majority of people. When they read it they know it can mean more than one thing. This is not the case with the examples of the other thread.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:00
  • Your pencil analogy doesn't work either because we haven't been calling them "leads" for the past decade. People call it Linux because of long-standing popular opinion.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:03
  • @Oli it is wrong to call it lead and it is wrong to call it linux but since many people call it linux it will not become right .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:06
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    In science that may be the case. In language, with enough time, anything goes.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:10
  • shouldn't we educate users about this rather than keep it on the sidelines .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:11
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    @Alaukik I still haven't seen a positive argument for "GNU/Linux" that offsets the side-effects of editing something. I think any educational value is so slim it can easily be left for questions directly discussing the word "Linux" (eg "What is Linux?")
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 13:03


It's not about what name is right, or what is wrong. The problem is that this kind of edits are (likely) going to ignite a flame war that will do no good to our users or community.

  • Note that I don't mind if you edit some of my posts to make that change. But some people will. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 8:58
  • but linux is only kernel and calling the whole os as linux is TECHNICALLY wrong and woudn't it be better if askubuntu used the correct word .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 9:06
  • moreover see this(meta.askubuntu.com/questions/1263/…)
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 9:07
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    @Alaukik: I understand your position. But with a quick search on google you will discover that it's not universally accepted and that it has a tendency to generate flamewars, mainly because it's associated with political values that not shared by all of our community. My point is that I value more the community peace than a small (IMHO) technical correction. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 10:15

Should you use Linux or GNU/Linux is up for eternal debate. Although name should not matter but it is important to know what it means.

Linux used to be a kernel, not a full-featured OS created by Linus Torvalds. At the time GNU foundation was working on GNU Hurd, an ambitious micro-kernel but it was still in development. So, to make things roll out faster GNU adopted the Linux kernel and build on top of it the whole operating system and there were other foundations involved. In 1992, the Yggdrasil project chose the name “Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X” for its combination of software. But finally, we settled for GNU/Linux because it is easier to say than "Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X", but to say "Linux" was even easier.

Now we use the term "Linux" for the whole operating system which would be inaccurate but its easier that way for newbies. Imagine if other operating systems were named like this NT/Window, Darwin/MacOs, sounds cool but unusable in daily usage.

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    "GNU is not Unix but it is a Linux created by Linus Torvalds" if you don't know anything might as well not post misinformation .
    – Lincity
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 9:56
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU/Linux_naming_controversy If you read this you will know there is not much difference either you call it this or that. It's totally upto you. Changing name will not change the ultimate power the Linux system has. Linux (kernel) is nothing without GNU softwares, but naming should be easy and which can be easy and catchy so Linux serves the purpose well.
    – puneet
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 10:38
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    "GNU is a linux created by linus" :facepalm .
    – Lincity
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 14:55
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    @Alauikk, that's more of English problem than info.
    – Oxwivi
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 14:03

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