Linux vs Unix

Are you finding difficulty in choosing the best operating system to run your shell program? We are here to help you all, today in this blog; we will be explaining the major differences between these two popular operating systems. After this, I hope you will be able to choose the best one according to your requirements. I think most of the developers find it difficult here, this is due to the similarities between Linux and UNIX. In some cases, you may find the same type of libraries and files used to execute the shell programs. Are you ready to learn more about these two popular operating systems? Let’s begin; First, we will start with the definitions of both Linux and UNIX:

What is UNIX?

The UNIX operating system was first invented in the 1960s by the company known as “AT & T” bell labs. This operating system is fully written in C language and consists of useful libraries/packages. This type of operating system is a control program that helps to establish the communication between the users and computer hardware. You know something; UNIX was developed before Windows operating system and almost 95% of programs are written in C language. UNIX was designed as an operating system for shell program experts, used mainly on workstations, hosts, and servers. In UNIX, all the computer programs that allocate the system resources and coordinate all the details of the computer’s internals are also known as “Kernel” in Unix operating system.

History of UNIX

UNIX is a multi-user and multi-tasking operating system developed by AT&T corporation in the late 1960s. It was highly used for workstations, internet servers, mainframe computers, etc. There are many valuable features of UNIX OS, such as multi-user, simple to use, portable, holds an extensive software library, etc. Denis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were renowned scientists in 1969 whose team developed the first version of UNIX on a minicomputer. By late 1970, UNIX shifted to another powerful computer system, and the team ported the same to PDP-11. 

Later, in the mid-1970s, some students and professors of the University of California together improved UNIX with the latest add-ons. Then in 1983, the new version of UNIX, System V, was released and continues to develop. UNIX became an inspiration for many open-source OS such as FreeBSD. 

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What is a Linux operating system?

Linux is a popular operating system, which is designed on the base of Linux Kernel. Linux is an open source system and which runs on multiple hardware platforms. The importance of using the Linux operating system is to provide free and less expensive operating services for users. Linux operating system is also considered as a user-friendly work nature which can be modified easily and also enables a user to create variations in the source code. Users can use this type of operating systems like Windows, MAC, Android, and IOS. This operating system always conveys the input data which is processed by the processors and brings them to the hardware for display purposes.

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History of LINUX:

The LINUX operating system began its journey in the 1990s as a project by the Finnish Software Engineer Linus Torvalds. He started developing the LINUX kernel, and in 1994, Version 1.0 was released, which was the core of the Linux OS. He began to create LINUX, a system equivalent to the MINIX, a UNIX OS. For this, he used the GNU C compiler for the same, which is still a great choice for compiling Linux code. There are some other compilers also in use, like Intel C.

At first, they gave it the name "Freax," but later, it changed to Linux. Earlier it was released for commercial use only, but in 1992 he released the Kernal version under the General Public License of GNU. Today Linux OS is widely used for supercomputers, mobile devices, electronic devices, home appliances, etc. 

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Differences Between LINUX and UNIX:

In this section, we are going explain the major differences between Linux and UNIX based on many categories:

1. Cost:

  a. As we already know that Linux operating system is freely available, and users can download them through books, software applications, magazines, and books, etc. To work on some advanced features, you will get paid versions for Linux operating systems.

b. In the case of UNIX, it is quite different, you have to pay different amounts to get different types of versions depends on the type of vendors. 

2. Development:

a. Linux is a type of open source, and hundreds of shell programmers need to collaborate online and contribute the development management.

b. UNIX system offers various versions. These versions are primarily developed by the company “AT & T” with other vendors.

3. Users:

a. Everyone can access the Linux operating system, for example, home users to shell developers, and also computer enthusiasts can also access this operating system.

b. The UNIX operating system can be used mainly in internet servers, personal computers, and workstations.

4. Text made interface:

a. BASH is one of the default Linux shells, and it provides multiple command line interpreters for the users.

b. This was originally developed to work with Bourne shell files. Now a day it has become more compatible to use with many software application developments. 

5. Graphical user interface:

a. Linux operating system offers two types of graphical user interfaces such as KDE and Gnome. Though you can see many alternatives for GUI they are Mate, Xfce, and LXD, etc.

b. Whereas UNIX offers a common desktop environment set up and Gnome to work with the graphical user interface.

6. Viruses:

a. Linux consists of about 60 to 100 viruses and which are currently not spreading while developing software programs or applications.

b. There are about 80 to 120 viruses reported till date in UNIX operating systems.

7. Threat detection:

a. In Linux operating systems, threat detection, bug fixing, and the solution are very fast this is because Linux consists of community-driven benefits. For example, if any Linux user posts any type of threat or bug, a qualified team of developers starts working on them to resolve these threats.

b. Unix users need to wait a long time, to perform the bug fixing approaches.

8. Architecture Overview:

a. This Linux operating system was initially developed mainly to support Intel’s X86 hardware processors. The Linux architecture type is available for more than 20 different types of CPU which also consists of ARM.

b. The UNIX operating system is available on PA –RISC and machines called Itanium.

 9. Usage:

a. Linux operating system can be installed on different types of devices like tabs, computers, and mobiles.

b. The UNIX operating system is mainly used for workstations, personal computers, and internet servers.

10. Best features:

a. In Linux operating system, the kernel will be updated without using any reboot factor.

b. In the UNIX system, different advanced file systems available such as Feta ZFS, next-generation files, and DTrace dynamic tracing files.

11. Versions:

a. You will get different versions of the Linux operating system such as Red Hat, Open Suse, and Ubuntu.

b. Different versions of UNIX available are, HP-UX, BSD, and AIS, etc.

12. Supported File types:

a. The file systems which are supported by Linux are xfs, cramfsm ext 1 -4, nfs, ufs, NTFS, and ufs.

b. The file systems which are supported by UNIX are zfs, GPS, xfs, hfx, and vxfs.

13. Portability:

a. Linux operating system is portable and can be booted from USB data stick device.

b. UNIX is not portable when compared to Linux.

 14. Source code:

a. The source code in the Linux system is available for general public usage.

b. The source code in the UNIX system is not available to any users.

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Unix Architecture

The Unix architecture consists of the following layers:-

Unix architecture


Unix OS includes a hardware layer comprising information related to hardware systems like CPU, Hard Disk, RAM, etc. All these support the computer system to work efficiently using the software installed. Without hardware, no system can work efficiently, and we cannot use the device. 


The Kernel is the operating system's core section that interacts with the hardware system. It handles all the important actions of the UNIX operating system. Moreover, Kernel can manage many tasks like memory management, file and power management, etc. 


Shell is like an interface between the Kernel and the user, which generally processes the requests. It interprets the commands a user enters into the terminal and then calls the program the user needs. Here, we can use commands like mv, cat, grep, cp, wc, etc.

Application Layer

The application layer of Unix architecture consists of various programs like database management, graphics, commands, etc. All these programs together provide an application to the end-user. Also, it ensures that an application will communicate effectively with other applications on multiple systems.

Linux Architecture

The architecture of Linux also consists of four different layers similar to the UNIX OS, which are as follows:-

Linux Architecture


The Linux architecture's hardware layer consists of different physical devices linked with the system. These include the motherboard, RAM, CPU, HDD, etc. They help the system run well, and the user gets the desired results.


The Kernel is the most crucial layer of Linux OS that directly connects with the system hardware. It helps to manage all the activities of the OS. Also, it handles different tasks to improve the system. 


A shell acts as an interface between the end user and the Kernel. It shares the inputs the user gives to the Kernel and vice versa, which runs the system efficiently. Moreover, it translates the commands inserted by the user and calls the required program or application.


The applications in the Linux architecture system are the programs that run on the Shell. The applications consist of web browsers, text editors, commands, etc. The programs will collectively provide a single application to the end user.

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Key Features of the UNIX Operating System:

The following are the key features of the UNIX operating system:

1. UNIX operating system offers multi-task and multi-user benefits.

2. Offers hierarchical file system management.

3. Supports building blocks approach.

4. This operating system provides pattern matching or wildcard characters.

5. Better programming facility.

6. Easier documentation.

7. Most of the servers run on UNIX operating system.

Key Features of Linux:

The following are the key features of Linux:


1. Offers Multi-user capabilities.

2. Used for multitasking purposes.

3. Portability and security.

4. CD/USB usage.

5. Graphical user interface in Windows XP system.

6. Supports customized usage of keyboards.

7. Provides different application support.

8. File system management.

The important versions of UNIX are;

a. HP-UX

b. AIS

c. BSD etc.

There are different versions of Linux are;

a. Red Hat

b. Ubuntu

c. Solaris

d. Open Suse etc.

 Limitations of Linux:

The below are the few limitations of Linux:

1. You will not get a standard edition of the Linux operating system.

2. Linux system provides patchier support for data drivers which may also result in a malfunction of the entire system.

3. Linux operating system is, not so useful for new users when compared to Windows.

4.  Many of the programming languages which we use for Windows will run on Linux by using the complicated emulator. For instance, Microsoft office.

5. Linux is the best suitable operating system for corporate users. Sometimes it is very difficult to use them in home settings.

 Limitations of UNIX:

The following are the few limitations of using UNIX;

1. The UNIX operating system is an unfriendly, inconsistent, non-mnemonic, and terse type of user interface.

2. When you compare UNIX with Linux, UNIX operating system is mainly designed for slow computer systems. Due to this reason, you can’t expect fast performance.

3. Shell interface can be used only on few devices when the user makes typing mistakes when destroying inappropriate files.

4. Versions of UNIX on different machines are quite different, so it not consistent to use.

5. One of the major limitations of the UNIX operating system is that UNIX does not offer 100% hardware interrupt response time, and also never support for real time or response time devices.

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Future of UNIX and Linux Operating Systems

Both are high-end operating systems widely used across the globe. Linux is a more widely used OS that is rapidly replacing UNIX and other operating systems. Moreover, Linux became more popular than UNIX or other operating systems because of its simplicity, ease of use, open-source, and flexibility. It is developing faster and can leave other operating systems behind in the coming days. 

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I hope in this blog, we have tried our best to explain all the aspects of both the popular operating systems; Linux and UNIX. This Linux VS UNIX blog also helps you to learn and know about various objectives of Linux and UNIX operating systems. In this blog, we have given fewer features to know their differences; you can take usage, architecture, security, cost, and versions, etc. Sometimes, you may get a situation where you have to work on both the operating systems, my suggestion is to try to use both of them to know their usage, limitations, and various features to choose which one is the best OS on your own. 

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Saritha Reddy
Saritha Reddy
Research Analyst
A technical lead content writer in HKR Trainings with an expertise in delivering content on the market demanding technologies like Networking, Storage & Virtualization,Cyber Security & SIEM Tools, Server Administration, Operating System & Administration, IAM Tools, Cloud Computing, etc. She does a great job in creating wonderful content for the users and always keeps updated with the latest trends in the market. To know more information connect her on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.