Possibly the perfect OS. Take rock-solid UNIX stability, graft on the nifty Mac OS UI, and you have A/UX. Runs only on 68k-based Macintoshes. Worship this Operating System. Rumours of an underground cult of A/UX users at TAMS are completely false.

A/UX is Apple's version of Unix in the days when Mac OS X was not even a thought in anyone's mind.

It's a Unix implementation that is based on AT&T Unix System V.2.2 along with numerous extensions like streams and other features from V.3, V.4 and BSD 4.2/4.3. Of course it's fully POSIX compliant and gives you all the SYSV, BSD and POSIX compatiblity you'd expect.

The reason people think that A/UX might be the perfect operating system is the excellent grafting of MacOS 7 into the system, right in X. You can use it as a 'real' Unix, or let the system insulate you from it by using all the fabu GUI tools that Apple is famous for.

Being a product of bygone days, A/UX will only run the old M68000 CISC Macs, such as the Quadra's, Centris's and some Mac II's. The basic requirement is a 68030 CPU with a PMMU. The last machine Apple made that ran A/UX out-of-the-box was the Quadra 800. 8 meg of RAM is the minimun along with an 80 mb disk.

A few years ago, Apple sadly dropped A/UX completely in favour of AIX, and then went to MacOS X Server. Hopefully its legacy will live on. A/UX is not free (unlike MacOS 7.5 and older), and so while there are a multitude of machines able to run it, you cannot buy it and it's illegal to copy it.

Sources: the A/UX Faq: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/aux-faq/

If you're interested in running A/UX today, assuming you can obtain a copy, the ideal hardware would be a Macintosh Quadra 950. These machines have a 33MHz 68040 processor, good video, and the capability to use lots of RAM. Its dual, or triple with the PDS expansion card, SCSI busses also allow a fairly respectable amount of mass storage to be attached.

I have one of these at home running the most recent revision, and it makes a surprisingly capable workstation. Most old Mac OS apps will run on it, and though the CPU is fairly glacial by today's standards, it runs very well. Because A/UX includes an X server, any applications that don't run natively can be displayed remotely, while running on a newer machine. For example, I use Firefox running under AIX on my RS/6000 for web browsing, and thanks to NFS, my downloads can go directly to my home directory on the Quadra.

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