Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is Unix? What is Linux?

What is Unix?

  • An operating system developed by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the late 1960's.
  • In 1978 AT&T's Unix seventh edition was split off into Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD).
  • AT&T SVR5 spawned several other commercial versions of Unix including:
    • Sun Solaris
    • HP-UX (Hewlett-Packard)
    • AIX (IBM)
    • IRIX (Silicon Graphics)
    • Digital Unix / Tru64 Unix (Digital Equipment Corporation)
    plus many others.
  • A nice history of Unix can be found here from USAIL
  • Additional notes on learning about and using Unix from USAIL

What is Linux?

  • A freely available version of the UNIX operating system
  • Started by Linus Torvalds in 1991
  • Programmers from around the world contribute code
  • Main portion of Linux: The Linux Kernel
  • Can be downloaded from a number of sites ( as well as purchased in packages (called distributions) from companies such as RedHat ( and Suse (
  • Runs on Intel 486, Pentium (and better) processors as well as Sun Sparc, DEC Alpha and dozens of other processors (e.g., Xbox).
  • Ways of installing/using Linux:

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