GNU Astronomy Utilities

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1.6 New to GNU/Linux?

Some astronomers initially install and use a GNU/Linux operating system because their necessary tools can only be installed in this environment. However, the transition is not necessarily easy. To encourage you in investing the patience and time to make this transition, and actually enjoy it, we will first start with a basic introduction to GNU/Linux operating systems. Afterwards, in Command-line interface we’ll discuss the wonderful benefits of the command-line interface, how it beautifully complements the graphic user interface, and why it is worth the (apparently steep) learning curve. Finally a complete chapter (Tutorials) is devoted to real world scenarios of using Gnuastro (on the command-line). Therefore if you don’t yet feel comfortable with the command-line we strongly recommend going through that chapter after finishing this section.

You might have already noticed that we are not using the name “Linux”, but “GNU/Linux”. Please take the time to have a look at the following essays and FAQs for a complete understanding of this very important distinction.

In short, the Linux kernel15 is built using the GNU C library (glibc) and GNU compiler collection (gcc). The Linux kernel software alone is just a means for other software to access the hardware resources, it is useless alone: to say “running Linux”, is like saying “driving your carburetor”.

To have an operating system, you need lower-level (to build the kernel), and higher-level (to use it) software packages. The majority of such software in most Unix-like operating systems are GNU software: “the whole system is basically GNU with Linux loaded”. Therefore to acknowledge GNU’s instrumental role in the creation and usage of the Linux kernel and the operating systems that use it, we should call these operating systems “GNU/Linux”.



In Unix-like operating systems, the kernel connects software and hardware worlds.

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