Difference Wiki

Unix vs. Linux: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 16, 2023
Unix is a proprietary operating system developed in the 1970s, while Linux is an open-source OS inspired by Unix, created in the 1990s.

Key Differences

Unix originated in the late 1960s and was developed at AT&T's Bell Labs. This operating system was written in assembly language until 1973, when it was re-written in the C programming language. Linux, on the other hand, came into existence in the early 1990s and was developed by Linus Torvalds. While it draws inspiration from Unix, Linux is an independent operating system.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 16, 2023
Unix is proprietary in nature, with various versions licensed to different companies over time. These versions have led to multiple Unix-based operating systems, each with its unique features and characteristics. Linux, conversely, is open-source, meaning its source code is freely available. This openness has led to countless Linux distributions, customized and developed by various communities and organizations.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
In terms of user interfaces, Unix typically provides a command-line interface, although graphical user interfaces have been developed for several Unix versions. Linux offers both command-line and graphical interfaces, with many popular distributions having robust graphical environments.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
From a licensing and cost perspective, Unix often comes with licensing fees, given its proprietary nature. Some Unix versions can be expensive, especially for commercial use. Linux, being open-source, is typically free, although some enterprise distributions may come with subscription costs for added services and support.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023
Lastly, while both Unix and Linux are powerful and robust operating systems, Linux's open-source nature has led to a larger and more active community. This community constantly contributes to the OS's development, making Linux highly adaptable and innovative compared to the more standardized Unix.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Origin & Development

Developed in 1960s at AT&T's Bell Labs.
Developed in 1990s by Linus Torvalds.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 16, 2023

Nature

Proprietary.
Open-source.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Versions/Distributions

Multiple proprietary versions.
Numerous free distributions.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Interface

Command-line (with some GUI versions).
Both command-line and graphical interfaces.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Cost & Licensing

Often licensed with fees.
Mostly free, some distributions have costs.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023
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Unix and Linux Definitions

Unix

A platform that has given rise to multiple derivatives, including AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris.
Sun Microsystems developed Solaris as their version of Unix.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Linux

An operating system known for its adaptability and community-driven development.
The Linux community actively contributes to its continual improvement.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Unix

An OS predominantly command-line based, with some versions having graphical interfaces.
Learning the Unix command line can be challenging but rewarding.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Linux

A versatile OS with numerous distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions for desktops.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Unix

A proprietary operating system developed at AT&T's Bell Labs in the 1960s.
AT&T originally designed Unix for internal use.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Linux

An OS that's central to the open-source movement, promoting collaboration and freedom.
Linux has been pivotal in democratizing software development.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Unix

An operating system known for its stability and multitasking capabilities.
Many large enterprises trust Unix for their critical applications.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

Linux

An open-source operating system inspired by Unix, developed by Linus Torvalds.
Linus Torvalds released the first version of Linux in 1991.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 16, 2023

Unix

An influential OS that has inspired numerous other operating systems, including Linux.
Unix's principles have shaped the world of operating systems.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Linux

A platform that powers a vast majority of web servers and supercomputers worldwide.
Google, Facebook, and Amazon run their servers on Linux.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Unix

(software) Any Unix-like operating system, including Unix.
Sumera Saeed
May 15, 2015

Linux

(software) Any unix-like operating system that uses the Linux kernel.
Sumera Saeed
May 15, 2015

Unix

(software) Collectively, Unix and unix-like operating systems.
Sumera Saeed
May 15, 2015

Linux

An open-source version of the UNIX operating system
Sumera Saeed
May 15, 2015

Unix

Trademark for a powerful operating system
Sumera Saeed
May 15, 2015

FAQs

Are Unix and Linux the same thing?

No, but Linux was inspired by Unix.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

When was Unix developed?

In the late 1960s at AT&T's Bell Labs.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

How does Linux's performance compare to Unix?

Both are robust and efficient, but performance can vary based on specific distributions or Unix versions.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Is Unix open-source?

No, it's proprietary.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

What are some popular Linux distributions?

Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and CentOS, to name a few.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Is Linux suitable for desktop use?

Yes, many distributions are designed for desktop use.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Which companies have their versions of Unix?

IBM (AIX), HP (HP-UX), and Oracle (Solaris) are a few.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Can I contribute to Linux development?

Absolutely, it's open-source and community-driven.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Can I use Unix for free?

Generally, no, as it often requires licensing fees.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 16, 2023

Can I run Unix applications on Linux?

Often, yes, with some compatibility layers or modifications.
Janet White
Oct 16, 2023

Why is Linux popular for servers?

Due to its stability, security, and open-source nature.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Are there GUIs for Unix?

Yes, though historically it's command-line based, some versions offer GUIs.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

What programming language was Unix originally written in?

Assembly, but it was later re-written in C.
Sara Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

What's the shell in Unix and Linux?

It's a user interface, either command-line or graphical, for accessing OS features.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Can I install Linux alongside Windows?

Yes, this is commonly referred to as a dual boot setup.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023

Who is the creator of Linux?

Linus Torvalds.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 16, 2023

Which devices use Linux?

Everything from desktops and servers to smartphones (like Android) and IoT devices.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

What's the primary license for Linux?

The GNU General Public License (GPL).
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

How often are new Linux distributions released?

Varies, but many popular distributions have annual or biannual releases.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 16, 2023

Is MacOS based on Unix?

Yes, MacOS is based on a Unix derivative called Darwin.
Harlon Moss
Oct 16, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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