Linux Vs. Unix: What's the Difference? -


Linux and Unix are often compared to each other. If the similarity in their names wasn't enough, Linux is technically a descendant of Unix, and they share a number of similarities in tool kits and overall structure. They aren't exactly the same, though, and the approaches and philosophies behind them are radically different.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


You might want to include BSD in this discussion of Unix and Linux.


No discussion of the history of Unix, no matter how brief, should fail to mention the influence of Multics, from which it took numerous ideas. Check out the Multicians web site (I’m not allowed to post the link) for more information.

It was only when Bell Labs pulled out of the Multics project in 1969 that Ken Thompson built what he at first called Unics.

That first version was implemented on a PDP-7, in assembler, and it was when porting it to the PDP-11 that he realised that they needed an implementation language with at least weak typechecking.

Incidentally, the DEC PDP-11 was a minicomputer, not a mainframe.

The reason so many universities started to run linux was twofold: firstly, it was superior to DEC’s proprietary OS, secondly, as Bell at this pre-anti-trust-case time were not allowed to sell anything computer-related, educational establishments could get the system complete with source code for some trivial amount, $100 rings a bell.


“In 1991, a computer science student at the University of Helsinki named Linux Torvalds grew frustrated with the restrictive licensing of MINIX, another operating system descended from Unix.”

I’m sure most people reading this article will spot this goof, but the name of the developer of the Linux kernel is Linus Torvalds not Linux Torvalds.


:joy: Thanks for picking up that typo. Author has been notified and the article will be updated shortly.