What Does GNU Mean?

GNU is a Unix-compatible operating system developed by the GNU project, which was started in 1983 by Richard Stallman with the goal of producing nonproprietary software. As such, users may download, modify and redistribute GNU software.


GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU’s Not Unix!

Techopedia Explains GNU

GNU has a Unix-like design, but it is available as free software and does not contain any Unix code. GNU is comprised of a collection of software applications, libraries and developer tools, along with a program to allocate resources and communicate with the hardware, or kernel. GNU can be used with other kernels and is often used with a Linux kernel. A GNU/Linux combination is the GNU/Linux operating system. The main components of a GNU system include the following:

  • GNU compiler collection
  • GNU C library
  • GNU Emacs text editor
  • GNOME desktop environment

GNU programs can be ported to a multitude of other operating systems, including different platforms such as Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. GNU is sometimes installed on Unix systems as a replacement for proprietary utilities.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…