A multiuser, multitasking 32-bit operating system written in C and developed in the late 1960s at AT&T's Bell Labs. There are many flavors of UNIX: Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, SunOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, BSDi, Irix, and many more. UNIX is made up of the kernel, the heart of the operating system, the file system, a hierarchial directory method for organizing files on the disk, and the shell, the user interface which provides the way the user commands the system.

In the words of a Slashdot reader, "It's more than an operating system! It's a religion!"

put in context, this was a reply to a certain Mac weenie who claimed UNIX was not an OS.

Technically, UNIX is a trademark of The Open Group. I spit on that trademark. So, when I say UNIX, I mean POSIXy UNIX-like operating systems, mmm'kay?

UNIX is an operating system that prides its history, with countless variants and a cult following of extremist zealots and bigots (I use such terms affectionately). It comes in countless flavors and runs on just about any hardware. Many dislike its philosophy and construction (such as jwz and Miguel de Icaza, particularly that of X11, and jwz seems to have issues with the whole philosophy of the platform), but IMHO it was designed rather nicely from the ground up, even if by accident. C and the internet as we know it both originated from UNIX.

There are two major UNIX camps: The Free Unices (*BSD, GNU/Linux), and the commercial UNIX that run on typically expensive hardware (SGI, HP-UX, Solaris SPARC, etc..) Commercial UNIX is almost a parallel universe from the free camp. UNIX can also be divided into System V-derived and BSD-derived, though some (like HP-UX) share code from both.

Zealots have been trying to push UNIX on the desktop for at least a good 15 years or so now. Be it with NeXT, or the more recent Mac OS X, GNOME, KDE.. Many have pointed to X11 as the reason why it has been unsuccessful. I myself wonder why they bother. Sure, mainstream consumers running real operating systems would be nice, but I just don't see it happening. Mac OS X seems as if it would get a significant niche, though (though they said that about NeXTSTEP, didn't they?). Regardless, I will continue to exclusively use UNIX-likes until you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Today, UNIX has gained enormous popularity (much hyped) through the works of Linux and the GNU Project. I feel very strongly against the Linux hype you see these days. When I hear people call Linux a "Windows alternative", I want to shoot them. Those people at, say, ZDNet make me sick. Windows users love to run the mouth about Linux, when really they should make up their minds: join the community or let the fuck alone. If Linux becomes a popular consumer OS, you'll see for yourself, until then please stop bullshitting. Do you see any OEM computers shipping with Linux? Do you see people buying them? Do you see suckers getting those boxed Red Hat CDs at CompUSA? Do they know what to do with them, do they throw them out a week later?

uninteresting = U = Unix brain damage

Unix /yoo'niks/ n.

[In the authors' words, "A weak pun on Multics"; very early on it was `UNICS'] (also `UNIX') An interactive time-sharing system invented in 1969 by Ken Thompson after Bell Labs left the Multics project, originally so he could play games on his scavenged PDP-7. Dennis Ritchie, the inventor of C, is considered a co-author of the system. The turning point in Unix's history came when it was reimplemented almost entirely in C during 1972-1974, making it the first source-portable OS. Unix subsequently underwent mutations and expansions at the hands of many different people, resulting in a uniquely flexible and developer-friendly environment. By 1991, Unix had become the most widely used multiuser general-purpose operating system in the world - and since 1996 the variant called Linux has been at the cutting edge of the open source movement. Many people consider the success of Unix the most important victory yet of hackerdom over industry opposition (but see Unix weenie and Unix conspiracy for an opposing point of view). See Version 7, BSD, Linux.

Some people are confused over whether this word is appropriately `UNIX' or `Unix'; both forms are common, and used interchangeably. Dennis Ritchie says that the `UNIX' spelling originally happened in CACM's 1974 paper The UNIX Time-Sharing System because "we had a new typesetter and troff had just been invented and we were intoxicated by being able to produce small caps." Later, dmr tried to get the spelling changed to `Unix' in a couple of Bell Labs papers, on the grounds that the word is not acronymic. He failed, and eventually (his words) "wimped out" on the issue. So, while the trademark today is `UNIX', both capitalizations are grounded in ancient usage; the Jargon File uses `Unix' in deference to dmr's wishes.

--The Jargon File version 4.4.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk, updated by Apatrix.

The MULTICS (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) project was an attempt by MIT, General Electric, and Bell Labs to create a second-generation timesharing system based on MIT's CTSS. Eventually, Bell Labs dropped out of the project and this left one Bell Researcher, Ken Thompson with little to do. Finding a discarded PDP-7, he decided to write a smaller version of the MULTICS project in what was the customary systems development language at the time, ASM. Thomposon's project earned the name UNICS (Uniplexed Information and Computing Service) from Brian Kernighan as a joke on MULTICS but it stuck and eventually became..Unix.

His collegues were quite impressed with his effort and soon after, Dennis Ritchie joined Thompson and decided to move Unix to the more modern PDP-11/20 which would greatly help its later success. To do this, Richie and Thompson rewrote the whole system in a new language created by Richie, C. Then in 1974 Richie and Thompson wrote their landmark paper about Unix recieving the ACM Turing Award for their efforts. This event only helped stir interest in Unix and soon universities (Most happened to use the PDP-11/20s) from around the United States were requesting copy's of the Unix source code from AT&T. Since AT&T was forbidden by the government to enter the computer market, they willingly gave out the source for a modest licensing fee.

Eventually Version 6 came around and was replaced by Version 7 (Microsoft's Xenix was based on it), the first truly portable version of Unix. However, it was during the time of Version 6 that the one of the most significant changes in Unix history would occur. The University of California Berkeley had acquired the Unix code and modified the code significantly as well as adding many utilities such as vi, csh and Pascal and Lisp compilers creating the BSD distro. Berkeley Unix was well funded by ARPA and other government grants and as such was chosen to create the Internet protocols of today (TCP/IP).

By the 3BSD release the Computer Science Research Group (CSRG) lead by Marshall Kirk McKusick at Berkeley had managed to port it to the VAX and eventually the last relelase 4.4BSD before they dissolved in 1992.

This would prove to split the Unix community in 1/2 with some adhering to AT&T's "System V" standard and other to BSD's standards. This was resolved with the creation of POSIX to make all Unix systems compatable with each other by creating a standard that all Unix variants must comply with.

Today, Unix runs most of the world's most powerful servers and has become a multimillion dollar industry. All built on the side project of Ken Thompson.

BSD Unix Variants

System V Variants

Those italicized represent Unices that share ample code from each type of Unix.

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