Cheatsheet

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You might see some terms you are not familiar with. Here is a collection of some that might help you.

Term Abbreviation Explanation
Linux Has two meaning. It's either just the Linux kernel, or it's an operating system that uses the Linux kernel. Most of the time when you read Linux, it means the whole system.
Distribution Distro The "type" of Linux you are using. Examples: Nobara, Pop!_OS, Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, ...
Desktop Environment DE How your Linux looks like. Think of the difference between Windows 7, 10, and 11. Unlike on Windows, this can be changed without reinstalling your system. Examples: KDE Plasma, or Gnome.
Window Manager WM Arranges your windows at the place you want them to be. Examples: kwin, mutter, i3, qtile, awesomewm, or sway.
Compositor Makes visual effects, but costs performance.
Package manager Essential part of your distro, has the purpose of downloading, installing, and removing packages. Examples: apt, or pacman.
Package Program, part of a program, or library
Library Collection of stuff that programs use to function. Typically has the ending .so. (on windows this would be .dll)
Terminal Black window with text. Essentially a different way to operate your system.
Display Manager DM Starts your DE. Examples: sddm, or gdm.
Shell The "environment" you have in the terminal. Examples: zsh, fish, or bash.
Display Server Draws stuff on the screen. Can be either x.org, or wayland.
Kernel The "heart" of your system. If a program wants specific resources (reading/writing a file, or getting processing time for example), it asks the kernel, and the kernel delivers them. Linux is actually just the kernel, but most people refer to the whole system (the distribution) when saying "Linux". Examples: linux, linux-lts, linux-zen, linux-tkg-pds, linux-tkg-bmq, xanmod, ...
Wine Compatibility layer to run Windows programs on Linux.
GNU GNU stands for GNU is not UNIX. Yes, it uses GNU to explain what GNU means. And it's probably part of your Linux system. That's why some people refer to Linux as GNU/Linux. They argue, that Linux is just the Kernel, and GNU is what makes it an operating system. However, most people use Linux to refer to the whole OS.