Linux vs Unix [Key Differences]

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Unix is the foundation of all other operating systems. On the other hand, Linux’s core component is a kernel which is based on the principles of Unix. The main difference between the operating systems is not the presentation of code but rather the internal structure of the kernel code. In this article, I’ll discuss Linux vs Unix in-depth.

What is Linux?

Linux is a free and open-source operating system that is based on the principle of a Unix-like operating system. The source code is open which means it can be modified and for that reason, it is a highly customizable operating system. The user interface of Linux is a Unix shell, which links the hardware to the user and runs the programs.

What is Unix?

Unix is an operating system that supports multiple users at the same time. In 1969, Unix was started as a small project at AT&T Bell Lab which is a powerful operating system divided into many Unix-like operating systems that were carried forward by open source and other operating branches.

Difference Between Linux and Unix

Linux and Unix have a lot in common as well as many differences, so let’s take a look at some of the key differences between these two below:

Parameter Linux Unix
Launch Linus Torvalds launched Linux in 1991 which was an independent operating system. In 1969, Unix was started as a small project at AT&T Bell Lab by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson.
Licensing An open-source OS that belongs to the Unix-like family. A proprietary OS that belongs to the Unix family.
Free Free operating system. Not a free OS, some versions of Unix are free.
Kernel A monolithic kernel. It can be any kernel like monolithic, microlithic, or hybrid.
Availability Available from enterprise level to the server to personal computers. Available from enterprise level to Server OS. Not so much used on personal computers.
Community Support Has a strong community support. Each forum has a huge number of active members who mainly answer with a solution if one has any problem. Does not have as many members compared to the Linux forum and is mainly focused on the enterprise level.
Bug Fixing Time Huge community support. The developed community mainly helps when the user faces any kind of problem and fixes the bug quickly. Take a long time to fix the bug.
File System Support All files, and peripheral devices are considered as files and have a hierarchical file system. The file systems that Linux provides are Ext, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, JFS, ReiserFS, XFS, btrfs, and swap. Supports 3 Types of file system which includes ordinary, directories, and special files.
Graphical User Interface Highly customized desktop environment and GUI support that includes GNOME and KDE. Mainly a command-based OS but later had a GUI support named common desktop environment.
Usage Used from wearable to supercomputers. It is mainly used in servers and workstations.
Shell Compatibility For Linux, the default shell is Bourne again Shell (Bash). For Unix, the default shell is Bourne Shell.
Components Has 3 core components which include Hardware, kernel, and Applications. Also includes all the three components that are included in Linux.
Number of Users Multiple tasks, and user support. Supports multiple users and tasks.
Examples of Different Versions Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Arch Linux, etc. Solaris, SunOS, ULTRIX etc.

Linux vs Unix: User Preference

Unix is a powerful operating system. But it does not get popularity like Linux. Because it is mainly used as a server OS and enterprise level, not used widely on desktops. Moreover, Linux has a stronger kernel architecture than Unix. Users mainly prefer Linux because of its Open-source and free nature and strong community support. It is also very flexible due to its high degree of customization.


To sum up, this writing shows the comparison between the operating systems Linux and Unix based on some specific features. By reading this article the user will be able to choose the best OS for him. However, which one should be utilized completely depends on the specific needs of the users.

People Also Ask

What is the difference between Linux and Unix?

Linux stands as a freely available and open-source operating system, allowing any user to inspect and make modifications to its source code. In contrast, Unix follows a different distribution model, requiring a license for use. This type of distribution is commonly referred to as proprietary or closed source.

Do these two operating systems share the same kernel?

No, Linux is indeed a Unix-like operating system but it does not share the same kernel. Linux has its kernel which is called Linux kernel. The specific features of its kernel made it unique and popular in all other operating systems.

Is Linux built on Unix?

No, Linux is a clone of the Unix operating system. Linux is indeed built on the principle of Unix. It is designed to be used as open-source and free software, so it can be used on the desktop.

Is Ubuntu a Unix-based operating system?

Yes, because Ubuntu is a Linux-based system and Linux is a Unix-based system. Mainly Ubuntu is a popular Debian-based distribution of Linux which mainly depends on the Linux kernel.

Should one learn Linux or Unix?

One should learn Linux because he can use it on a desktop or PC and also it is free so it will be easier to learn Linux and also helpful. Again most Linux administrators can use Unix on their system. So one can skip the learning of Unix. However, if one wants to learn Unix then he has to learn from the proprietary version.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

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