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Linux vs Unix

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An operating system is the most important software that a computer cannot work without. In this article, we would be discussing Linux Vs Unix operating systems in-depth and find out which one is better. So stay tuned with us to know the core difference between Unix and Linux Commands, architecture, and Kernel. Here, you would be learning the following topics:

Linux vs Unix - Major Differences

What is Unix?

Unix is the multi-user and multi-tasking operating system developed at Bell Labs in the early 1970s. Unix systems have a graphical user interface that provides an easy-to-use environment. There are different versions of Unix, and some of the simplified versions are - Sun Solaris, GNU, and macOS X. 

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What are the features of the Unix operating system?

Some of the prominent features of Unix are as follows:

  • It has built-in networking functions that help users to exchange information. 
  • It is a multi-user system where the same resources can be shared by multiple users.
  • It was the first operating system that was written in a high-level language and was easy to port to another machine with the least adaptation. 
  • The functionality of Unix gets extended through a standard programming interface.
  • Unix offers multi-tasking, which means each user can carry out several processes simultaneously. 


Unix Architecture

Unix architecture consists of several layers mentioned below:

  • Hardware: It consists of all the hardware-related information.
  • Kernel: It is the heart of the operating system that interacts with hardware. It also handles tasks like memory management, task management, file management, power management, etc.
  • Shell: This layer basically processes your request. When a user type commands at the terminal, Shell interprets the commands and calls the program a user needs. The commands that are used are -mv, cat, grep, id, wc, cp, nroff, etc.
  • Application Layer - The application layer includes graphics programs, database management programs, word processors, commands, etc. These programs, as a single unit provide an application to end-users.
Related Article: Unix Shell Scripting Interview Questions & Answers

What is Linux?

Linux is a free and open-source operating system that manages computer hardware resources and allows you to perform tasks such as surfing the web, editing files, etc.

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What are the features of Linux?

  • Supports multitasking
  • It can co-exist with other Operating systems.
  • It can run multiple-user programs
  • Individual accounts are protected due to appropriate authorization
  • Programs might consist of more than one process, and each process can have multiple threads

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Architecture of Linux

The Linux operating system consists of four layers - Hardware, Kernel, Shell, and Application layer. Let us find out more about these layers:

  • Hardware: The hardware layer consists of all the physical devices that are attached to the system. Some examples are -RAM, motherboard, CPU, Hard disk drive, etc.
  • Kernel: Kernel is the core layer of the Linux operating system that establishes the direct interaction with the hardware.
  • Shell: This layer acts as an interface that takes inputs from the user and sends it to the kernel and vice versa. 
  • Applications: These applications are the utility programs that run on the shell. Some of these applications are -web browsers, media players, text editors, etc.
Related Article: Tutorial for Beginners

Differences - Linux vs Unix

Are Linux and Unix the same thing? No, they are not. Unix and Linux are different from each other, but yes they do share a relationship because Linux is derived from Unix. Linux system is a continuation of the Unix design. Is Linux better than Unix? Read out more to find out which is better and more helpful for your working style.

Basis of Difference
Source Code
The source code is accessible to the general public
The source code is not available to anyone
Follows a monolithic kernel approach
Can be monolithic, microkernel, or hybrid
It is portable and can be booted from a USB stick
It is not portable
Linux is freely distributed and can be downloaded in different ways. Paid versions are also available
Different versions of Unix have different prices depending upon the type of vendor.
Linux is open-source where thousands of programmers can collaborate online and contribute to its development.
The different versions of Unix are developed by AT & T and also by commercial vendors
Text Made Interface
BASH is the Linux default shell and supports multiple command interpreters
Original it used to work in Bourne shell but not it is compatible with many software
Linux has two GUI - KDE and Gnome. 
Common desktop environment and Gnome
Threat detection
Threat detection is fast in Linux because it is community-driven. If any user posts about a threat, a team of developers starts resolving it.
Unix users have to wait a little longer for a bug to get fixed
It is available for more than twenty different CPUs including ARM
It is available for PA-RISC and Itanium machines
Supported file types
xfs, nfs, cramfsm ext 1 to 4, ufs, devpts, NTFS.
zfs, hfx, GPS, xfs, vxfs
Different Versions of Linux are Redhat, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, etc
Different Versions of Unix are HP-UX, AIS, BSD, etc

Linux vs Unix: Commands

There are certain differences between the shell commands of Unix and Linux. Linux Commands and Unix Commands may look similar but they are not the same. Let us understand it through examples. 

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Solaris vs Linux

Solaris also called Oracle Solaris belongs to the Unix family. Linux is compatible with more system architecture than Solaris and therefore, Linux is more portable. Solaris seems better when it comes to hardware integration and stability. Linux has a faster development rate as compared to Solaris. 

macOS vs Linux 

macOS is a Unix OS that has a Kernel called XNU. It is used in one of the most reliable PC's ie. Apple's computers. macOS is relatively easy to install. Linux is cheaper and more flexible. macOS uses the HFS+ file system, but Linux uses ext4.

Related Article: Learn Linux File Permissions

Limitation of Linux

  • There is no standard edition of Linux.
  • It has patchier support for drivers that may cause the malfunction of the entire system.
  • Linux is not very easy to use at least for new users.
  • Many programs that we use for Windows like Microsoft Office will run on Linux with the help of a complicated emulator
  • Linux may be suitable for a corporate user but much harder for a home setting.

Limitations of Unix

  • Unix is designed for a slow computer system; it can't offer fast performance.
  • It has an unfriendly and non-mnemonic user interface
  • Shell interface can be risky because a single typing error can destroy files.
  • It lacks consistency because its versions are slightly different on various machines.
  • Unix does not give any assured hardware interrupt response time.
Related Article: Linux Interview Questions and Answers

Is Linux better than Unix?

Linux has gained more popularity because it is more flexible and free when compared to Unix. They are not the same but very much similar, even the commands in each distribution also vary. There are studies that show Linux is growing at a faster rate than any other operating system and it is believed that in the coming future it may leave Unix installation far behind. 

Market and Future of Linux and Unix

History of Linux - Linux was introduced in 1991 and got popular in a short period of time. Originally, it was designed only for intel 386, but today it runs on every machine. It has millions of users, and it is doing well in embedded systems, industrial automation, cloud computing, mobile devices, robotics, etc. it is definitively less popular in the desktop system industry.

Talking about its future, Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux, has declared some developments and improvements in the features that will be compatible with a wider number of systems. 

Unix is an old OS, and its advocates are continuously developing new specifications to make it compatible with the coming era of computing. 

Related Article: Unix Interview Questions


Unix is said to be the mother of all operating systems, and the Linux kernel is derived from it. The major difference between Unix and Linux doesn’t lie in the presentation part but in how they process internally at the kernel part. 

We hope that this article must have clarified your doubts related to the Unix and Linux operating systems. Still, if you have any doubts, please drop the query in the comment section below.

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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Pooja Mishra is an enthusiastic content writer working at Mindmajix.com. She writes articles on the trending IT-related topics, including Big Data, Business Intelligence, Cloud computing, AI & Machine learning, and so on. Her way of writing is easy to understand and informative at the same time. You can reach her on LinkedIn & Twitter.

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