by January 4, 1999 0 comments

In the beginning there was Multics.
“MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service” was an attempt in the late
sixties by MIT, Bell Labs, and GE, amongst others, to create a time-sharing operating
system. It never did succeed, though Honeywell did bring out a commercial version. Ken
Thompson of Bell Labs was one of the developers associated with the project, and after the
attempt at Multics was given up, Thompson went on to write Unix (a pun on Multics) to play
games on a salvaged PDP-7. Dennis Ritchie, the inventor of C, is considered the
co-developer of Unix.

This was in 1969. In 1972-1974, Unix was completely
rewritten in C, making it the first portable OS. It’s this portability that led to
the deployment of Unix on a wide range of hardware imaginable. Rights to Unix, including
the source code and the name, rested with Bell Labs. Bell Labs, licensed the source code
to other companies, but not the name. They had to sell their product under a different
brand name. Though these flavors developed independently, there have been various attempts
at standardization, including AT&T’s attempts in the mid-eighties, and the later
day POSIX standards.

This attempt is to make you familiar with some of the
variants of Unix.

AIX IBM’s version
of Unix.
IBM’s version
of Unix.

BSD The Berkeley System
Distribution. Unix was first developed for the DEC VAX and the PDP-11. The commercial
versions that evolved out of BSD include SunOS and Ultrix. Free BSD is a free
version of BSD Unix.
The Berkeley System
Distribution. Unix was first developed for the DEC VAX and the PDP-11. The commercial
versions that evolved out of BSD include SunOS and Ultrix. Free BSD is a free
version of BSD Unix.

HP Unix No surprises
here. HP’s version of Unix.
No surprises
here. HP’s version of Unix.

Irix The version of
Unix used in Silicon Graphics workstations and servers. Irix has a strong graphical
orientation. Silicon Graphics has recently started a line of workstations running Win NT.

Linux The hottest
operating system today. Linux and the OpenSource model that it propagates has taken the
computing world by storm. For more on Linux see our March issue.
The hottest
operating system today. Linux and the OpenSource model that it propagates has taken the
computing world by storm. For more on Linux see our March issue.

MacOS X Pronounced OS
ten, this is Apple’s operating system, written specifically for the server.
Basically, this is BSD Unix 4.4 on top of the Mach kernel (3 and 4). OS X can be termed to
be Unix with the Mac interface. In fact, you’ll have the Unix command-line interface,
something you would probably not have even dreamt of as happening on a Mac. The OS is
expected to be POSIX compliant.

Minix Developed by
professor Andrew S Tanenbaum as a lite version for students to use on a PC.
Developed by
professor Andrew S Tanenbaum as a lite version for students to use on a PC.

NextStep After Steve
Jobs left Apple, he started Next and developed an OS called NextStep, based on the Mach
kernel.
After Steve
Jobs left Apple, he started Next and developed an OS called NextStep, based on the Mach
kernel.

SCO OpenServer One of
the two versions of Unix currently being pushed by SCO (Santacruz Operations). OpenServer
is positioned for small and medium businesses.

Solaris The current
version of Unix from Sun. It’s available on Sun’s own Sparc and UltraSparc
machines, as well as on Intel platforms.

True64Unix Originally,
called Digital Unix. Subsequent to Compaq’s takeover of Digital, it was renamed
True64 Unix.
Originally,
called Digital Unix. Subsequent to Compaq’s takeover of Digital, it was renamed
True64 Unix.

UnixWare SCO’s
Unix for enterprises.
SCO’s
Unix for enterprises.

Xenix

Microsoft-licensed Unix from Bell Labs to develop it for the x86 family of processors.
Microsoft didn’t sell Xenix to end-users, preferring to sell it to OEMs like SCO and
Intel instead. SCO’s version of Xenix was the most popular of the lot. Xenix never
did really catch on, and its usage has almost died.

 

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