Unix is a operating system

PDP 11

An operating system (OS) is a program that allows you to interact with the computer - all of the software and hardware on your computer. How?

Basically, there are two ways.

  • With a command-line operating system (e.g., DOS), you type a text command and the computer responds according to that command.
  • With a graphical user interface (GUI) operating system (e.g., Windows), you interact with the computer through a graphical interface with pictures and buttons by using the mouse and keyboard.

With Unix you have in general the option of using either command-lines (more control and flexibility) or GUIs (easier).

Unix and Windows: Two Major Classes of Operating Systems

And they have a competitive history and future. Unix has been in use for more than three decades. Originally it rose from the ashes of a failed attempt in the early 1960s to develop a reliable timesharing operating system. A few survivors from Bell Labs did not give up and developed a system that provided a work environment described as "of unusual simplicity, power, and elegance".

Since the 1980's Unix's main competitor Windows has gained popularity due to the increasing power of micro-computers with Intel-compatible processors. Windows, at the time, was the only major OS designed for this type of processors. In recent years, however, a new version of Unix called Linux, also specifically developed for micro-computers, has emerged. It can be obtained for free and is therefore a lucrative choice for individuals and businesses.

On the server front, Unix has been closing in on Microsoft’s market share. In 1999, Linux scooted past Novell's Netware to become the No. 2 server operating system behind Windows NT. In 2001 the market share for the Linux operating system was 25 percent; other Unix flavors 12 percent. On the client front, Microsoft is currently dominating the operating system market with over 90% market share.

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