Unix Vs Linux: What’s the Difference Between It?

Unix Vs Linux: What’s the Difference Between It?
Unix Vs Linux: What’s the Difference Between It?

Introduction 

All developers start on their basic computers and popular operating systems such as MacOS or Windows. But as they progress deeper into the development scenario, they require something that adds to their productivity, gives more room for customisation and change and allows them to call the shots on the usage of resources in their operating systems. 

LINUX and UNIX are two operating systems primarily used for development purposes. But do you actually require to learn about them both or one suffices? What are the advantages of using LINUX and UNIX? What are the disadvantages of using LINUX and UNIX? What is the key difference between LINUX and UNIX? 

And finally, the ultimate question – in the battle of LINUX Vs UNIX, which one will emerge victorious? 

Read on. 

What is UNIX? 

UNIX is an operating system which emerged in the 1960s and was the brainchild of Ken Thompson of AT&T Bell Labs. The operating system has been written in a powerful and popular procedural language – C. The utilisation of C as the language for this operating system ensured that any future modifications can be made properly, the system will be accepted far and wide and offer significant portability. 

The UNIX operating system is essentially a command line operating system, which means that the operations performed are done through the command line. However, graphical user interfaces have also been developed that make the usage of the platform easier for beginners as well. 

The UNIX operating system finds its usage in companies, enterprises and universities in general. While UNIX does not win the popularity contest for students, it certainly does not mean that it can’t be used by students as well. 

What are the features of the UNIX operating system? 

  • The UNIX operating system offers a multi-user, multi-tasking capability for its users. 
  • The UNIX operating system finds its use in large businesses and enterprises because of its ability to be set up as the primary controlling unit for the enterprise and/or the business. 
  • The UNIX operating system has been popularised because of its use in the commercial world and universities. 

What is LINUX? 

LINUX is an open source operating system which was developed by Linus Torvalds as a side project in 1991. The LINUX operating system, being open source, gives a chance for people to customise and modify it based on their needs. Hence, a large number of companies and developers have created their own versions of this operating system utilising the LINUX Kernel which are both used for internal purposes as well as free use for the developers worldwide. 

Some popular LINUX based operating systems are – Ubuntu, Zorin OS, Elementary OS etc. 

Now that we have introduced both the operating systems, it is time to surface the differences between the two.

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What are the features of the LINUX operating system?

  • The LINUX operating system as UNIX also supports multitasking. 
  • The processes running in the LINUX operating system are multi-threaded and the operating system itself is a multi-processing system. 
  • The LINUX operating system is also popular because it can be used with other operating systems as well. 
  • The security of the LINUX operating system is appreciated far and wide 
  • Although essentially similar to UNIX in almost every sense, LINUX OS does not use the same code base.

UNIX Vs LINUX: What is the difference?

ParameterUNIXLINUX
Source CodeThe UNIX is a proprietary operating system and the source code is not available to the general public. The LINUX is an open source operating system and hence the source code is available to the general public. 
Creator The UNIX operating system was created by Ken Thompson at AT&T Bell Labs.The LINUX operating system was created by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki. 
Default ShellThe UNIX operating system’s default shell is the Bourne Shell.The LINUX operating system’s default shell is BASH.
Bug Fixing and Threat DetectionThe UNIX operating system takes longer time than the LINUX operating system to make bug fixes and patches to the system.  The LINUX operating system on the other hand can easily detect threats and come up with a fast solution. 
Popular VersionsThe popular versions of UNIX include – HP-UX, AIS, BSD etc. The popular versions of LINUX include – Redhat, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Solaris etc. 
Cost UNIX operating system is a proprietary operating system and the cost of different versions of UNIX vary depending on the vendor and the features. LINUX being an open source operating system is freely distributed. However, paid versions of this operating system also exist in the market.
Development The development of UNIX operating system is centralised to official vendors and AT&T laboratories The development of the LINUX operating system being open source is vast and highly distributed. Any developer can contribute to its enhancements and create operating systems on his own 
User Base The UNIX operating system is primarily used as a workstation in enterprises and businesses. The LINUX operating system is primarily used as a personal computer. 
Devices The UNIX operating system can be installed on workstations or servers or personal computers as well.The LINUX operating system can be installed on personal computers, mobile devices and tablet computers. 

Limitations of UNIX Operating System 

  1. The UNIX operating system is an operating system that uses the command line interface because of which it is not very suitable for beginner level programmers. 
  2. The commands are extremely specific and even one small typo or an addition of a special character can produce unexpected results. 
  3. The developers who use the UNIX operating system understand how exactly the commands are working and interacting with the programs. The knowledge of the design of the UNIX operating system becomes crucial for one to use it properly. 
  4. The documentation and tutorials of the UNIX operating system are not in an abundance and hence the developers have to figure out most of the system on their own. 

Limitations of LINUX Operating System 

  • Companies making hardware drivers prefer making it for popular operating systems such as Windows or Mac and hence sometimes Linux operating systems don’t have the right hardware drivers on them.
  • Learning LINUX is a steep curve. One has to learn about operating systems, architecture, get comfortable with the command line interface and practice a lot. 
  • Some popular software like Photoshop is unavailable for LINUX operating systems. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Linux based on Unix?

Linux and Unix are similar but their code bases are different.

Is Unix still used?

Yes, Unix is still used in businesses, enterprises and universities as the main control unit, internet servers and personal computers as well.

Is Windows Unix or Linux?

Windows is neither Unix or Linux.

Does Linux need antivirus?

No, Linux based operating systems do not require an antivirus.

Does Apple use Linux?

No, macOS is a Unix based operating system.

Key Takeaways

In the battle of UNIX Vs LINUX, it is difficult to pick a winner. Considering from a learner’s perspective, UNIX is comparatively harder to learn than LINUX. Considering from a business’s perspective, UNIX is a better choice to use than LINUX. Considering from a student developer’s perspective, LINUX is a better choice than UNIX. 

And hence, to pick the ultimate winner between Unix vs Linux, you have to consider the use case first and then move on to picking what is best for you. 

Happy Learning!

By Pooja Gera