GLUT was conceived by Mark Kilgard with the goal of providing a simple, yet powerful enough, toolkit to deal with the intricacies of the windowing system when building OpenGL applications. In my opinion GLUT was a very effective solution and completely fits the bill. As far as I know, GLUT is still the simplest toolkit around and yet it does most of what is needed for simple prototypes.
GLUT however is not free of criticism. Complaints about the lack of control on the event loop are abundant on the web and some extra functionality, context creation and multisampling, would be most welcome.
GLUT is not open source hence it could not be modified, so GLUT clones have appeared. These kept the API (all gluts functions are usually implemented exactly with the same name) but improved and extended it to address the above mentioned issues.
There are open source versions of GLUT, such as freeGLUT and OpenGLUT. They all kept the API so 99.9% of what will be presented in this tutorial is still valid. Nonetheless these new versions do have some extensions that make it worth a try. Check out the extensions in freeGLUT here.