An operating system originally created by a number individuals at Bell Telephone Labs in 1969. The people usually credited are Dennis Richie and Ken Thompson. Unix was designed as a simplified version of a massive and never fully completed mainframe Operating System called Multics. Originally created for the DEC PDP-7 and moved to the PDP-11, Unix has subsequently been ported to a large number of computers.
Unix is a multitasking operating system built around a small machine specific kernel and a large number of command line driven utilities. Unix is noted for being robust and reliable. It is widely used. Unix supports a wide variety of file systems, command shells and utilities. It is often used for low volume applications where a reliable, low cost Operating System is needed for a specific computer. General purpose applications are not so common. Documentation is voluminous, but frequently incomprehensible. Different releases are frequently mildly incompatible. Graphical interfaces exist, and are moderately standardized under X-Windows.
Unix originated as a command line driven language and is well known for it's diverse, cryptic and often quite inexplicable command line options. It is not noted for user friendliness.
An open source variant of Unix called Linux is very widely used largely because the price is right (it's free), and the source code is available for reference. The numerous releases of Linux are largely, but not completely, compatible.
Modern mainstream applications such as spreadsheets, word processing, and data bases are available at reasonable pricing for Linux environments. Font handling and printing is reported to need work. Support of common applications in other Unix environments is spotty at best. Most MSDOS programs can be run under Linux in a DOS emulator. Windows applications are more problematic.
Return To Index Copyright 1994-2008 by Donald Kenney.