All Unix, Linux and other Unix-like operating systems are families of computer operating
systems derived from the original Unix System from Bell Telephone
Laboratories. Today, the largest Unix descendent directly certified as
"UNIX" is macOS by Apple. The original commercial Unix derivatives included
HP-UX, AIX and SunOS, to name a few. The diversity and perceived
incompatibility between various Unix systems led to the creation of
interoperability standards including the Portable Operating System Interface
Unix is the original and most powerful and popular multi-user and
multi-tasking Operating System. The basic concepts of Unix were originated
in the Multics project of 1969. The Multics system was intended as a
time-sharing system that would allow multiple users to simultaneously access
a mainframe computer. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others developed the
basic building blocks of Unix including a hierarchical file system and a
command line interpreter for the PDP-7. Multiple generations of Unix systems
were developed for myriad computers.
As mentioned, historical perceived incompatibility between the various early
Unix systems led to the creation of POSIX and the Single Unix Specification.
Historically, the rigid "standardization" approach led to the creation of
various open source approaches to Unix including the Free Software
Foundation (FSF), GNU and Linux. Unix programs were originally created
around core design philosophies that included requirements like single
purpose, interoperable, and working with a simple standardized text
interface. Unix systems are built around a core kernel that manages the
system and the other processes. Kernel subsystems may include process
management, file management, memory management, network management and
Unix is a multi-user system where the resources can be shared by various
Unix provides multi-tasking. Users can execute many processes at
the same time (practically speaking).
Unix was the first computer operating system that was written in a
high-level language (C Language).
Unix provides a hierarchical file structure which facilitated fast data
Unix has built-in networking functions so that computers can easily exchange
Unix functionality can be extended through user programs built on a
standard programming interface.
UNIX certifies compliance with a full set of interoperability standard, managed and maintained by the Open Group, which includes, not only the kernel, but the entire operating system.
What is Linux?
Linux is a Unix-like operating system created by Linus Torvalds at the
University of Helsinki in 1991. The name Linux refers to
the Linux kernel, the software on a computer which permits applications and
users to access the devices on the computer to perform specific
functions. The development of Linux was a landmark example of global, free
and open source software collaboration. Many companies and similar numbers
of individuals have released their own version of Unix-like operating
systems based on the Linux Kernel.
Similar to Unix kernels, the Linux kernel relays instructions from an
application from the computer's processor and sends the results back to the
Broader in scope than commercial Unix products, Linux has been installed on a variety of platforms including mobile phones, tablets, video game consoles, NAS storage arrays, routers and small embedded controllers.
Currently the world's largest and most powerful data centers and scientific
research centers use some "flavor" of Linux.
The development of Linux is a stellar example of the power of free and open
source software development and global human collaboration.
A Linux "distribution" is a release of a Unix-like operating system based on
the specifications of the Linux kernel.
Linux, like Unix, is a multi-user
system where the resources can be shared by various system users.
Linux, like Unix, provides
multi-tasking. Users can execute many processes at the same time
Linux, like Unix, was written in C.
Linux, like Unix, provides a
hierarchical file structure which facilitated fast data access.
Linux, like Unix, has built-in
networking functions so that computers can easily exchange information.
Linux, unlike UNIX, specifies only the kernel but
not the entire operating system.
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An Interest Fact about the History of Unix and Linux
AT&T Corporation and Sun announced that they were collaborating on a project to merge the most popular Unix variants on the market in 1987. The idea was to merge Berkeley Software Distribution, UNIX System V, and Xenix. This became Unix System V Release
4 (SVR4). Sun announced on September 4, 1991 that they would replace its existing BSD-derived Unix, SunOS 4, with one based on SVR4. This new Unix variant was identified internally as SunOS 5. At the same time, the new marketing name "Solaris 2"
was introduced. The justification for this new branding by Sun was that Solaris encompassed not only SunOS, but also the OpenWindows graphical user interface and Open Network Computing (ONC) functionality.
SunOS 4.1.x micro releases were retroactively named Solaris 1 by Sun. However, the Solaris name is used almost exclusively to refer only to the releases based on SVR4-derived SunOS 5.0 and later. For releases based on SunOS 5, the SunOS minor version
is included in the Solaris release number. For example, Solaris 2.4 incorporates SunOS 5.4. After Solaris 2.6, the 2. was dropped from the release name, so Solaris 7 incorporates SunOS 5.7, and the latest release SunOS 5.11 forms the
core of Solaris 11.4.
SunSoft stated in its initial Solaris 2 press release their intent to eventually support both SPARC and x86 systems but the first two Solaris 2 releases, 2.0 and 2.1, were SPARC-only. An x86 version of Solaris 2.1 was released in June 1993 as a desktop
and uniprocessor workgroup server operating system. Sun released Solaris 2.4 in 1994, supporting both SPARC and x86 systems.
Historically, Solaris was developed as proprietary software. However in June 2005, Sun Microsystems released most of the codebase under the CDDL license and founded the OpenSolaris open-source project. Sun wanted to build a developer and user community
around the OpenSolaris software. After the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle in January 2010, Oracle decided to discontinue the OpenSolaris distribution and the development model. Oracle stopped providing public updates to
the source code of the Solaris kernel in August 2010. This action turning Solaris 11 back into a closed source proprietary operating system. OpenSolaris was forked into Illumos and remains alive through several Illumos distributions.
Simon Phipps, a former Sun Microsystems employee not hired by Oracle in the acquisition, reported on Twitter on September 2, 2017 that Oracle had laid off the Solaris core development staff, which many interpreted as sign that Oracle no longer intended
to support future development of the platform. While Oracle did have a large layoff of Solaris development engineering staff, development continues today of which Solaris 11.4 was released in 2018.
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