Posted by: Monish | May 24, 2008

What is the difference between Linux and Unix?

Unix is popular operating system, developed by AT&T in 1969 and it has been very important to the development of the Internet. It is a multi-processing, multi-user, family of operating systems that run on a variety of architectures. UNIX allows more than one user to access a computer system at the same time.

A widely used Open Source Unix-like operating system. Linux was first released by its inventor Linus Torvalds in 1991. There are versions of Linux for almost every available type of computer hardware from desktop machines to IBM mainframes. The inner workings of Linux are open and available for anyone to examine and change as long as they make their changes available to the public. Because of its robustness and availability, Linux has won popularity in the Open Source community as well as among commercial application developers.

Here is more input:

  • Unix requires a more powerful hardware configuration. It will work in large mainframe computers but will not work in an x86 based personal computer. Linux however, (which is built on the concept of Unix) has small hardware requirements and it will work on both a large mainframe computer and an x86 based personal computer.
  • Unix is an Operating System developed in olden days in which the kernel, the heart of the OS, interacts directly with the hardware. Because UNIX treats everything as a file, it provides greater security for users. An example of a UNIX distribution is posix. Linux uses the UNIX architecture as its basis and provides more facilities and applications. Linux could be considered to be a GUI to the UNIX core. Examples of Linux distributions are Redhat, Fedora, S.U.S.E, Mandriva, and Ubuntu. Solaris OS also uses the UNIX kernal almost all UNIX commands will work on solaris in addition to 500 Solaris specific commands. Both UNIX and LINUX are Open source.
  • Unix is the foundation for a number of operating systems, with Linux being the most popular one. Novell and Free BSD are 2 other commonly used Unix variants.
  • UNIX is an operating system created in the early days of computers. More recently, Linux was created as an open-source, freeware operating system. It is “UNIX-LIKE”, meaning that it uses many UNIX constructs but also departs from traditional UNIX in many ways. Like UNIX, Linux is faster than many of the other commercially available operating systems. It appears to also be far more robust than any of the Microsoft products. Linux is being used in many time critical applications because of it’s speed. It is also used in many applications that need to maintain uptime because Linux, like UNIX, can run for months at a time without rebooting. While the typical method of solving Microsoft problems is to “reboot”, that particular requirement does not seem to be appropriate in a Linux/Unix environment. While UNIX has created a windows-like work environment, Linux has improved greatly on that concept. Linux has become a real player in the consumer operating system market… and it’s free. While you may want to pay for a Linux distribution, the actual code is free and you are allowed to load it on as many machines as you want. You can get Linux for free if you wish to load it across the internet.


  1. Nice to read a post related to UNIX.
    But, I think I should clarify one thing that, Linux is not an Operating System at the first place. Its only a Kernel. The operating system is GNU/Linux, not Linux. And Linus Benedict Torvalds never came up with an OS, he designed the Kernel!
    The only problem here is many people, even after using GNU/Linux do not refer it as GNU/Linux but as Linux.
    Whatever you have mentioned about SUSE, Ubuntu etc etc, they are not Linux distributions, but they are GNU/Linux distributions.
    When a common man uses Linux for GNU/Linux, that I think is ignorable, but for a software engineer/hobbyist , I don’t think its pardonable.

    By the way, these are the words of RMS (Richard M. Stallman).

  2. You said
    >> Unix requires a more powerful hardware configuration. It will work in large mainframe computers but will not work in an x86 based personal computer.

    This is inaccurate. There are versions of Unix for x86 (AMD and Intel) processors, (like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD).

    The system requirements for RAM, cpu speed, and HD storage are the same as any popular linux like SUSE or Ubuntu. My personal favorite is OpenSolaris x86/x64 for Intel, which is freely downloadable from


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