Difference Between Unix and Linux

Computer World had come up with an operating system way back in the year 1956. The synergy of the operating system was an amazing feature that took the IT industry to the next level.

Many operating systems are available to date, close to thousand.

There are varieties of the operating system available in the world; Single and Multi-tasking OS, Single and Multi-user OS, Distributed OS, Templated OS, Embedded OS, Real-time and Library OS.

The advent of technology and curiosity of the scientists made way to a few of the comprehensive Operating systems to the computer world. Two of which to be named are UNIX and Linux.

Unix and Linux came in different timelines; however, each has its own characteristic features that the IT world cannot deny.

UNIX came to the world first, and Linux is a clone of Linux and has advanced user interface features that are most sought by the developers these days.

Unix vs Linux

The difference between UNIX and Linux is UNIX is a complete operating system whereas Linux is a kernel. In simple words, UNIX is the complete truck whereas Linux is an engine in the truck, it is just a part of the truck.

Unix vs


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonUnixLinux
History of Manufacture and developmentUNIX was developed in the year 1970 at the Bell Labs. It was prepared for Bell Labs’ internal use and later started distributing to various companies.Linux came into existence in 1991. It is an open-source software developed by sharing the code and collaborating with various developers.
Primary FocusUNIX initially and for a long time worked primarily on Command Line Interface (CLI), though in recent years Graphical User Interface is developed on UNIX systems but not as effective as its counterpartsLinux is an open-source OS based on UNIX. Linux had both CLI and GUI right from the beginning making it comprehensive. CLI is optional in Linux
Flexibility in UsageUNIX has very little compatibility with many different types of hardware.Linux is very flexible and compatible with most of the hardware systems available.
Installation EaseUNIX always requires well-defined hardware machinery. It can be installed only in selected CPUsLinux is a free download software. It can be downloaded easily too. Minimum system requirements are to be met for Linux Installation
PriceUNIX is not free. There are many flavors of UNIX available in the market and every flavor is priced at different ratesLinux is free. Few versions of Linux like the Red hat Linux are charged however they are very less expensive than the Windows.


What is Unix?

UNIX is a multi-tasking and multi-user operating system developed in the Bell Labs. It was prepared to use internally for the Bell Systems, but later the licensed version of it was distributed to many companies.

UNIX is the first portable operating system reaching numerous platforms. The operating system can provide simple tools that perform specific limited functions, these tools are combined by the command language to perform complex functions too.

The UNIX system is based on UNIX philosophy which is unique for this operating system. It uses a hierarchical file handling system while the data storage is facilitated by using a plain text format.

The Kernel is the master control for UNIX, it has the entire control over the system. The Kernel acts as an interface between the user and the hardware of the system.

Apart from the kernel, it is the shell that plays a vital role in the operating system. It acts as the interface between the kernel and the user.

There are many variants of UNIX distributed to many companies at different levels. Each variant maintains its kernel.

Unix operated systems are aligned with their systems. This means to say that the hardware is also shipped along with the software.

UNIX by far is designed for a very limited audience and also for specific applications and functions. The interfaces available are eventually stable.


What is Linux?

Linux functions on a wonderful package management system. It is developed from the collection of many software that is built upon the kernel.

The software used in the development of the Linux Kernel are open source and free. Linux consists of the following: A Linux Kernel, GNU system and utilities, a compiler for library functions, and a window system and desktop environment.

Linux is free to download by anyone. The source code can be seen by anyone too.

This operating system is considered to be faster than many other operating systems existing at the moment. Indeed, it is portable to many hardware systems.

Installation of Linux is pretty simple not many hardware specifications are required for the installation. Linux is available for free of cost, and few distros of the same are very economical too.

The interfaces available in Linux systems evolve time and again and it is dynamic. The best part is, Linux supports most of the file systems available in other operating systems. The threat detection and bug fixing aspects are very fast with Linux.

A cluster of programs supported by the Linux kernel is a comprehensive operating system for many IT firms.


Main Differences Between Unix and Linux

  1. The difference between UNIX and Linux is a family of derived distributions whereas UNIX is the family of derived operating systems.
  2. In the case of Linux, there are different variants maintained by different communities but merges into one kernel. While UNIX’s variants are maintained by different companies and they have their kernel.
  3. The installation of Linux is almost easy, it can be installed with minimum system requirements whereas UNIX can be installed strictly with selected hardware systems.
  4. Linux is preferred mostly for its economical reasons, and it especially sought for cloud deployment of data. UNIX is preferred for specific purpose sever requirements and also for the availability of specific applications.
  5. Linux is free with an exception of few variants which are also cheap when compared to Windows operating systems. UNIX is never free and the cost structures are different from different variants.


  1. https://www.usenix.org/system/files/login/issues/login_fall18_issue.pdf#page=61
  2. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=945769
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