GNU/Linux Frequently Asked Questions

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

Questions générales

"GNU/Linux" et "Linux" sont-ils différents?

Vous passez d'un terme à l'autre sans arrêt. Quelle est la différence ?

Originellement, Linux se réfère à un module technique (appellé le kernel ou noyau), à l'intérieur du système GNU. Ce que les utilisateurs utilisent aujourd'hui, pour être exact, ce sont des "distributions du système GNU/Linux".

Dans la pratique, le mot "Linux" l'a emporté, et aujourd'hui il est utilisé pour désigner le système tout entier. Cela génère une quantité incroyable de controverses.

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.

Appeller le système Linux est plus pratique et attirant pour les utilisateurs d'ordinateurs n'ayant jamais rien connu d'autre que Windows.

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.

Linux est-elle une marque déposée ?

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

GNU/Linux est-il le seul système d'exploitation libre disponible?

Non. GNU/Linux est de loin le système libre le plus utilisé ; mais il existe nombre d'autres systèmes.

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.

Comprendre le Logiciel libre

Est-ce que l'"Open Source" et les "logiciels libres" sont la même chose?

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

En termes de philosophie, les choses sont assez différentes. Le terme "open source" a été inventé pour rendre les "logiciels libres" plus attractifs. Ses partisans considèrent l'open source comme une meilleure façon de développer des logiciels.

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.

Le terme que vous emploierez dépend donc de votre jugement.

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.

Beaucoup d'entreprises tirent donc profit de services autour de leur distribution GNU/Linux, plutôt que du logiciel même. Tout est souvent vendu ensemble: le client achète le DVD, la documentation imprimée, et le contrat d'assistance en même temps. Cela n'empêche pas le logiciel d'être libre.

En savoir plus: Comment mal comprendre le logiciel libre | L'Agenda du Libre.

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?

Il y a typiquement trois cas de figure :

  • Certains distributeurs de Linux incluent certains logiciels non-libres pour permettre à du matériel de mieux fonctionner. 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.

  • Certains distributeurs de Linux assemblent des logiciels restrictifs à du logiciel libre. Ces distributeurs préfèrent que leurs utilisateurs ne considèrent pas leurs libertés; et ils insistent surtout sur les capacités techniques de leur produit. Utiliser de telles distributions n'est pas beaucoup mieux qu'utiliser Windows. Votre liberté compte pour nous, et nous vous recommandons de choisir avec précaution !

Is macOS also a free operating system?

Do all the reasons for avoiding Windows apply to macOS?

Il est fréquent que les utilisateurs de Mac pensent qu'ils sont exemptés des restrictions liées à Windows. Ce n'est malheureusement pas le cas.

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 a été conçu par des gens qui n'aiment pas voir tous les ordinateurs de la planète fonctionner sur un système propriétaire. Il n'y a certainement aucun mal à cela !

Lire la suite dans l'article: Comment mal comprendre le logiciel 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 Comment mal comprendre le logiciel 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.

Notez qu'il n'est pas nécessaire d'acheter du nouveau matériel pour utiliser Linux.

Linux est-il disponible en Français ou en d'autres langues ?

Oui ! Toutes les distributions principales (telles que celles que nous recommandons), sont disponibles dans nombre de langages et reconnaîtront la configuration de votre clavier.

Contrairement à Windows, toutes les langues sont inclues dans chaque CD d'installation, il ne vous faudra donc pas télécharger (ou acheter !) une version différente simplement pour changer la langue de votre logiciel.

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!

L'autocollant n'est là que pour la publicité et n'a pas de valeur légale. Nous sommes persuadés que pouvoir choisir quel logiciel utiliser sur son propre ordinateur est un droit fondamental.

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

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

Pas du tout. Linux fonctionnera sur votre ordinateur.

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

Est-ce que je peux lire mes DVD et MP3 sous GNU/Linux ?

La réponse simple à cette question serait "oui", mais ce n'est qu'une demi-vérité.

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.

Le problème des DVD est encore plus compliqué. La plupart des DVDs sont encryptés avec un système appellé "CSS". Il y a un logiciel très largement utilisé, nommé libdvdcss, qui permet de décrypter ces DVDs. Hélas, contourner la restriction sur votre DVD est illégal dans beaucoup de pays, y inclus l'Union Européenne et les USA.

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.

Les DVDs non-encryptés, comme les DVDs enregistrés par les particuliers, sont parfaitement lisibles avec du logiciel libre.

Est-ce que je peux jouer aux jeux 3D les plus connus sous 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.

D'autres questions ?

Si vous avez une question qui n'est pas traitée ici, il y a de nombreuses communautés pour vous aider. Notre section "En lire plus" vous aidera à trouver le bon endroit pour poser votre question.

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