Frequently asked questions

Our page about GNU/Linux covers the essential information. We hope this FAQ list can help if you are more curious.

Preguntas generales

¿Hay alguna diferencia entre "GNU/Linux" y "Linux"?

Se refieren a uno y a otro alternadamente, ¿hay alguna diferencia?

Estrictamente hablando, Linux se refiere a una parte central del sistema, llamada kernel o núcleo, la cual se coloca dentro del sistema GNU. Lo que los usuarios usan en sus equipos en realidad se llama "distribución del sistema GNU/Linux".

En la práctica, la palabra "Linux" fue mejor recibida (como era de esperarse), y hoy en día la gente usa simplemente "Linux" para referirse al sistema entero. No creerías la controversia que genera este hecho.

Calling the system GNU/Linux is much more meaningful, technically (end-users use a lot of "GNU" and a little of "Linux") but also philosophically: the strength and momentum of the Free Software movement started with and are still carried by the GNU project.

Llamar Linux al sistema es más práctico y simple para usuarios de equipos que suelen creen que Windows es lo único sobre la tierra.

To avoid confusion, we use "GNU/Linux" to refer to operating system distributions that include GNU software and the Linux kernel. When we use "Linux" without the GNU part, we refer to the kernel.

And what has that software to do with a GNU?

When Richard Stallman started to design GNU, the main system in use was Unix, which is proprietary. Because GNU is similar in function to (and compatible with) Unix, but is free software, he coined the term GNU which stands for GNU's Not Unix. It's a recursive acronym. If you enjoy that kind of humour, check out what GNU Hurd means.

¿Es Linux una marca registrada?

Yes. You cannot sell any random software under the name of Linux®. The trademark is held by the Linux Mark Institute.

¿Es GNU/Linux el único sistema operativo libre disponible?

No. GNU/Linux sólo es el sistema libre más usado; sin embargo, existe un número de sistemas que también son libres.

These include the UNIX derivatives FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, the BeOS clone Haiku OS, the Windows NT clone ReactOS, the DOS clone FreeDOS, and Syllable, just to name a few.

Is macOS a distribution of GNU/Linux?

No. There are a few free software components in macOS, and it is technically similar to GNU/Linux systems. But overall, it is proprietary software: all the issues about Windows apply to it as well.

Comprendiendo el software libre

¿Son lo mismo el "Open Source" y el "Software Libre"?

Yes and no. Technically, the great majority of open source programs are free software and vice-versa.

Filosóficamente, son muy distintos. El término "código abierto" fue acuñado para hacer ver al "software libre" más atractivo; quienes lo apoyan lo ven como una mejor forma de desarrollar software.

Supporters of the "free software" term value the freedom, not merely the way software is made, and thus argue that the term "open source" misses the point.

El término que decidas usar dependerá de tu visión del software.

Why are some GNU/Linux distributions sold, not given away?

Some websites actually sell distributions of GNU/Linux. So, why do you write it is "free as speech and available at no charge"?

The concept of free software, refers to freedom, not price. You have the freedom to copy, study, modify, and give free software away.

La mayoría de las compañías que desarrollan software libre hacen dinero vendiendo servicios relacionados con su software, en lugar de vender el propio software. Esto se suele hacer vendiendo todo como un paquete: El cliente compra el CD, el manual y el servicio de soporte técnico de una vez. Y el software aún garantiza tus derechos.

Más: Como malinterpretar el software libre | Libreta de conceptos FLOSS.

Why are some GNU/Linux distributions not fully free?

Some GNU/Linux distributions are available at no charge, but include restrictive software. Why is it so?

Normalmente hay tres tipos de políticas relacionadas con la inclusión del software privativo:

  • Algunos creadores de distribuciones de GNU/Linux permiten el software privativo para que algunos dispositivos de hardware funcionen. This happens because some hardware manufacturers such as NVidia do not care about their customers' freedoms, and only release restricting firmware and drivers (some of them don't even release anything, like Broadcom). These are available at no cost (they are freeware) but under restrictive licenses. Distributions such as Ubuntu thus include such components to improve hardware compatibility.

  • Some GNU/Linux distributors do not compromise on the freedom of software, and make sure their distribution are entirely free. Such is the case of Trisquel, which is a Ubuntu derivative with all restricting components removed.

  • Algunos creadores de distribuciones de GNU/Linux empaquetan software libre y privativo sin distinción. A ellos no les gusta que los usuarios piensen en su libertad; por el contrario, solamente publican las características técnicas de su producto. El usar dichas distribuciones no es mucho mejor que usar Windows. ¡Nosotros valoramos tu libertad y te recomendamos que escojas con cuidado!

Is macOS also a free operating system?

Do all the reasons for avoiding Windows apply to macOS?

Muchos usuarios de Mac creen que están exentos de las restricciones asociados con el uso de Windows. Desafortunadamente se equivocan.

macOS does have some low-level components which are free software; and Apple puts less energy into customer lock-in (with some notable efforts such as BootCamp).

However, the end-user is still fundamentally restricted — because of the proprietary license, he/she cannot use macOS for all purposes, nor copy, study, modify, or redistribute it.

Happily, because these freedoms matter a lot, it's possible to run popular GNU/Linux distributions (such as Ubuntu) on Mac computers.

Aren't GNU/Linux users the ones who make illegal downloads?

Isn't GNU/Linux about cracking, "piracy" and illegal download websites?

No. Wherever you read or heard this, you should update your views. GNU/Linux is completely distinct from such things. Whether you want to do them, or whether you prefer intelligent, legal downloads, GNU/Linux will work just as well as Windows. Unfortunately you can't identify gangsters by the make of their cars; the same thing goes for their operating system.

GNU/Linux fue creado por personas a quienes no les gusta la idea de que todos los computadores del mundo usen productos privativos de una misma compañía. ¡Y eso, definitivamente no tiene nada de malo!

Leer más en el artículo: Como malinterpretar el software libre.

Is GNU/Linux a form of communism?

"Everything has to be free" and "No one owns anything" sounds somewhat frightening. Are GNU/Linux and its GPL License something for anarchists or communists?

GNU/Linux has nothing to do with a political system and anyone — regardless of their political views — can use it. We have this explained simply in our article Como malinterpretar el software libre.

Installing GNU/Linux

Does GNU/Linux come pre-installed on computers?

Yes it does. LinuxPreloaded.com has built a website specially for that purpose, listing vendors that sell GNU/Linux desktops and laptops.

¡Y ten en cuenta que no hace falta comprar un nuevo computador para usar GNU/Linux!

¿Puedo obtener GNU/Linux en mi idioma?

Si. Todas las distribuciones principales, como las que recomendamos, están disponibles en varios idiomas, y soportan muchos tipos de teclados.

Al contrario de Windows, todos los idiomas están incluidos en el disco de instalación, así que no hace falta que descargue (o pague) una versión totalmente diferente para cambiar el lenguaje en su computador.

Is it legal to install GNU/Linux on my computer?

There is a shiny Windows sticker on it! Am I allowed to erase Windows or use it together with GNU/Linux?

Yes. It is absolutely, completely legal, provided of course it's your computer!

La etiqueta es pura mercadotecnia, no tiene valor legal. Creemos que es un derecho fundamental elegir cuál software instalar en nuestro propio hardware.

In fact this right is threatened by the rise of things such as DRM and Trusted Computing. Read our article "Por una sociedad libre" for more information.

Do I have to purchase a new computer to run GNU/Linux?

Definitivamente no será necesario. Funcionará perfectamente en tu computador actual.

The only thing you might be worried about is using very recent special hardware, such as graphics cards. Otherwise, almost all GNU/Linux distributions can run on normal PCs (often called "i386" or "x86" computers), 64-bit-processor computers and Apple Mac computers. Read how you can try or install GNU/Linux on your computer, be it instead of or together with Windows.

Using GNU/Linux

Will Microsoft Office run on GNU/Linux?

No. It is technically possible to adapt Microsoft Office to GNU/Linux, but Microsoft isn't keen on allowing Office users to choose their operating system. There are other issues with MS Office and openness — like Microsoft's fierce opposition to supporting the OpenDocument format.

However, a complete, free, reliable office suite exists: LibreOffice. Or you can choose its close cousin, Apache OpenOffice. They will both happily use all your existing office files in MS-Word, MS-Excel, and MS-PowerPoint format, and are really free (both as in freedom and as in price). And they run on Windows as well as on GNU/Linux.

LibreOffice.org   OpenOffice.org

¿Puedo reproducir mis DVDs y MP3s en GNU/Linux?

La respuesta simple a esta pregunta sería "sí", sin embargo esto es sólo una verdad a medias.

Quite a few GNU/Linux distributions do not include MP3 playback software due to the patent situation of the MP3 format. These patent issues do not affect the user directly, so most distributions make it fairly easy to install MP3 support over the Internet after the installation, making it possible to legally play MP3 files, for non-commercial use.

Por otro lado, la situación con los DVDs es más compleja. La mayoría (o todos) los DVDs son encriptados con un sistema llamado CSS ("Sistema para la Codificación del Contenido", en castellano). Y aunque hay un software libre ampliamente soportado que es capaz de decodificar dichos DVDs (llamado libdvdcss), en lugares como Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea es ilegal usarlo porque se estaría esquivando las restricciones impuestas.

There is a legal solution to play your DVDs on GNU/Linux where libdvdcss is illegal. The Fluendo company has developed an (non-free) application for that purpose which can be purchased from their website.

Sin embargo, los DVDs no encriptados, como la mayoría de los creados en casa, pueden reproducirse perfectamente usando sólo software libre.

¿Puedo jugar juegos 3D en GNU/Linux?

Yes and no. Some games, for example the Quake series, Rust, Counter-Strike, Tomb Raider, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and many more have GNU/Linux versions. Since the release of the popular Steam platform to the GNU/Linux operating system, the number of GNU/Linux compatible games on Steam has been growing rapidly. Check out the Steam store where you can find a wealth of high quality, GNU/Linux compatible games.

Most popular games, alas, only work on Windows and occasionally on macOS. Some Windows games can be run on GNU/Linux with Wine or its non-free variant CrossOver, which involves some unpleasant effort for the user. For a list of games known to work on Wine, see their games database.

¿Tienes más preguntas?

Si tienes una pregunta que no es respondida aquí, hay muchas comunidades dispuestas a ayudarte. Nuestra sección "Más detalles" te ayudará a encontrar el lugar correcto para preguntar.

If you can think of a frequent question that we haven't answered yet, do let us know, or file an issue.