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Resources - Operating Systems - Unix and Unix-like derivatives

[Unix logo, original] Unix is the operating system upon which the Internet was invented.  Development of Unix originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a joint venture between General Electric, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Since then, the popularity of Unix grew significantly due to support from the University of California Berkeley and other universities, and continues to gain popularity today due to its long history of flexibility coupled with solid reliability.

Although pure Unix is centred around the command line interface (also commonly referred as "the shell"), GUI (Graphical User Interface) overlays (such as Xwindows and NextStep) are becomming increasingly common as more software designers are catering to end-user demands.

We hope to include links to all Unix flavours (and very commonly with "flavour" mis-spelled as in "Unix flavors" or "flavors of Unix") in alphabetical order, along with a short summary of what sets them apart from the others.

[AIX logo]AIX (IBM)
AIX is an open, standards-based operating system that conforms to The Open Group's Single UNIX Specification Version 3.  It provides fully integrated support for 32-bit and 64-bit applications, and is backed by IBM who have broad experience in providing solutions to businesses of every size, in every industry, in every corner of the world, for which IBM has an excellent reputation for service and support.

[Amoeba logo]Amoeba
Amoeba is a powerful microkernel-based system that turns a collection of workstations or single-board computers into a transparent distributed system.  It has been in use in academia, industry, and government since the early 2000s, and runs on the SPARC (Sun4c and Sun4m), the 386/486, 68030, and Sun 3/50 and Sun 3/60 architectures.  With networking, it is often used to form a powerful processor pool for research in distributed and parallel operating systems, runtime systems, languages, and applications.

[Aros mascot]Aros
The AROS Research Operating System is a lightweight, efficient and flexible desktop operating system, designed to help you make the most of your computer.  It's an independent, portable and free project, aiming at being compatible with AmigaOS at the API level (like Wine, unlike UAE), while improving on it in many areas.  The source code is available under an open source license, which allows anyone to freely improve upon it.

[AS/400 logo]AS/400 (IBM)
In 1988 IBM introduced the AS/400 Operating System which was designed to run on accompanying AS/400 mini-mainframe hardware.  Some notable features were 128-bit address pointers and TIMI, a CPU-neutral instruction set that is very similar in concept to byte codes in modern Java Virtual Machine technology.

[DesktopBSD logo]DesktopBSD
DesktopBSD aims at being a stable and powerful operating system for desktop users.  It combines the stability of FreeBSD, the usability and functionality of KDE, and the simplicity of specially developed software to provide a system that's easy to install and use.

[DragonFlyBSD logo]DragonFlyBSD
DragonFlyBSD is a free Unix-like operating system created as a fork of FreeBSD v4.8.  It was started with the belief that the methods and techniques being adopted for threading and symmetric multiprocessing in FreeBSD v5.x would lead to a poorly performing system that would be very difficult to maintain.

[EdgeBSD logo]EdgeBSD
EdgeBSD is a free, multi-platform BSD-based UNIX-like operating system created as a fork of NetBSD.  Emphasis is in portability, standardization, proactive packages maintenance, and modular virtualization with a RUMP Kernel.

[FreeBSD logo]FreeBSD
FreeBSD is a free, advanced operating system for x86 compatible, Alpha/AXP, IA-64, PC-98 and UltraSPARC architectures.  It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley.  It is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals.  Additional platforms are in various stages of development.

[HP logo]HP-UX
HP-UX is Hewlett-Packard's implementation of Unix that runs on their PA-RISC range of processors as well as Intel's Itanium processor.  Earlier versions also ran on the HP 9000 Series 200, 300, and 400 computer systems based on the Motorola 68000 series of processors, as well as the HP 9000 Series 500 computers based on HP's proprietary FOCUS processor architecture.

[Inferno logo]Inferno
Inferno® is a compact operating system designed for building distributed and networked systems on a wide variety of devices and platforms.  With many advanced and unique features, Inferno puts an unrivalled set of tools into your hands.  The 4th edition is available as Free Software, on similar license terms to that of xBSD.

Inferno can run as a user application on top of an existing operating system, as a web browser plug-in, or as a stand alone operating system.  Each Inferno system presents an identical environment to the applications, irrespective of the underlying host OS or architecture, allowing the developer to work with a truly homogeneous environment across multiple different platforms.

[Irix logo]Irix (SGI)
The IRIX operating system is the leading technical high-performance 64-bit operating system based on industry-standard UNIX.  Since the 1980s SGI has been designing scalable platforms based on the IRIX operating system to connect technical and creative professionals to a world of innovation and discovery.

[LUnix logo]LUnix:  Little Unix for the Commodore 64
LUnix is an experimental operating system for the Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 without additional hardware.  The Commodore 64 has 64 kB of RAM and an 8-Bit CPU running at 1MHz.  The main features of LUnix are its UNIX-like environment and command shell, multi-tasking, and multi-session capabilities.  LUnix is free software.

[Commodore 64 logo]The Commodore 64 was the first mainstream personal computer (promoted as a "home computer" in the early 1980s) which reached an international level of sales that, to date (year 2009), no other single model of personal computer has ever come close to achieving (this accomplishment deserves special mention because this computer was of excellent quality in both its design and its massive manufacturing processes).

[MicroBSD logo]MicroBSD
MicroBSD is currently developed by individuals from Bulgaria.  This new distro will get some of the ideas from the old MicroBSD project and will add specific Bulgarian localization.  We will add improvment in several areas security, user interface and easy setup.

[MidnightBSD logo]MidnightBSD
MidnightBSD is a new BSD-derived operating system developed with desktop users in mind.  It includes all the software you'd expect for your daily tasks - eMail, web browsing, word processing, gaming, and much more.

With a small community of dedicated developers, MidnightBSD strives to create an easy-to-use operating system everyone can use, freely.  Available for Intel x86, AMD64, SPARC, and as Virtual Machines.

[Minix mascot]Minix
MINIX 3 is a new open-source operating system designed to be highly reliable, flexible, and secure.  It is loosely based somewhat on previous versions of MINIX, but is fundamentally different in many key ways.  MINIX 1 and 2 were intended as teaching tools; MINIX 3 added the new goal of being usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability.

The Linux kernel was based on MINIX, hence it is said that Linux has its roots here.

[MirOS logo]MirOS
MirOS BSD is a secure operating system from the BSD family for 32-bit i386 and sparc systems.  It is based on 4.4BSD-Lite (mostly OpenBSD, some NetBSD).  The MirPorts Framework is a portable ports tree to facilitate the installation of additional software.  The project also releases some portable software.

[NetBSD logo]NetBSD
NetBSD is a free, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system, developed and supported by a large and vivid international community who make it available for many platforms, from 64-bit Opteron machines and desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices.  Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research environments, and it is user-supported with complete source code.  Many well-known applications are included in The NetBSD Packages Collection, which greatly simplifies the installation and management of major and minor open source software.

[OpenBSD mascot]OpenBSD
OpenBSD is a free, multi-platform BSD-based UNIX-like operating system created as a fork of NetBSD.  Emphasis is in portability, standardization, correctness, proactive security, and integrated cryptography.  OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSD/OS, SunOS, and HP-UX.

[OpenIndiana logo]OpenIndiana - Community-driven illumos Distribution
Illumos is a consolidation of software that forms the core of an Operating System.  It includes the kernel, device drivers, core system libraries, and utilities.  It is the home of many technologies including ZFS, DTrace, Zones, ctf, FMA, and more.  The developers pride themselves on having a stable, highly observable, and technologically different system.  In addition, Illumos traces its roots back through Sun Microsystems to the original releases of UNIX and BSD.

[OpenSolaris logo]OpenSolaris (Sun)
OpenSolaris is an open source Unix-like platform, poised for the development of your next generation applications due to their focus on reliability, all backed by world class support from Sun.  OpenSolaris also includes unique features like the TimeSlider, ZFS as the default filesystem, enhanced Image Packaging System (IPS), COMSTAR, DTrace enabled packages for extreme observability and performance tuning, D-Light, and many more.

PC-BSD is a free operating system that was designed with ease-of-use in mind.  Like any modern operating system, you can listen to your favorite music, watch your movies, work with office documents, and install your favorite applications with a setup wizard and just a few clicks of the mouse.

[Plan 9 mascot (Glenda)]Plan 9 (Bell Labs)
Plan 9 from Bell Labs is a research system developed at Bell Labs starting in the late 1980s.  Its original designers and authors were Ken Thompson, Rob Pike, Dave Presotto, and Phil Winterbottom.  They were joined by many others as development continued throughout the 1990s to the present.

[Plurix logo]Plurix
Plurix is a native high-speed Operating System for PC clusters.  Its DSM storage can directly support network computing, intranets, and multimedia tele-co-operation.  An optimistic transaction scheme coupled with restartable transactions automatically guarantees consistency of shared data structures, relieving application programs from this responsibility.

Java objects are kept in DSM (Distributed Shared Memory) and are easily accessible from authorized workstations.  Combining object-oriented methodology, restartable transactions, and DSM, we gain ease of use and simplicity without sacrificing speed.

[PureDarwin logo]PureDarwin (Apple)
PureDarwin is the Open Source POSIX-compliant operating system from Apple that forms the basis for MacOS X, released by Apple Inc. in 2000.  It is composed of code developed by Apple, as well as code derived from NEXTSTEP, FreeBSD, and other free software projects.  Darwin forms the core set of components upon which Mac OS X and iPhone OS are based, and is compatible with the Single UNIX Specification version 3 (SUSv3) and POSIX UNIX applications and utilities.

[QNX logo]QNX Neutrino RTOS
The QNX real-time OS technology focuses on mission-critical applications -- everything from medical instruments and internet routers to telematics devices, 9-1-1 emergency call centers, process control applications, and air traffic control systems.

[RMoX logo]RMoX
RMoX is an experimental process oriented operating system for Pentium based hardware, written in the occam-pi programming language.  It is intended to be used as a Scalable, Compositional Operating-System for Commodity Platforms.

[RoFreeSBIE logo]RoFreeSBIE
RoFreeSBIE is a Live DVD/CD installable on hark disk.  Its goal is to promote FreeBSD and make it an educational tool and a mobile desktop too.

[SkyOS logo]SkyOS
The Sky Operating System, or SkyOS, is an Operating System written for x86-based personal computers.  SkyOS was created in 1996 by Robert Szeleney as a small Boot Loader, then over the next 8 years SkyOS evolved into a full-featured, modern operating system, with a goal to be the easiest to use desktop operating system available for the average computer user.

Although this project was halted for a while due to concerns with the increasing challenges of keeping up with the latest advances in hardware (which is a massive undertaking for any Operating System), it appears that SkyOS has been continued with NetBSD as a drop-in kernel (and the possibility of also using other Unix flavours or Linux distributions as drop-in kernels), which easily addresses the challenge of supporting current hardware.

[Solaris logo]Solaris (Sun)
Solaris is Sun's UNIX operating system, known long ago as SunOS (which had its roots in BSD).  The newer versions are far more SYS-V based with some SVR4 features, along with OpenWindows 3.0.

[Stratus VOS logo]Stratus OpenVOS
Stratus servers running the OpenVOS operating system (which was recently known as VOS) have long been valued for their ability to deliver industry-leading uptime due to Stratus fault-tolerant architecture, which was designed to provide maximum availability and performance even in the face of failure and reconfiguration.  VOS is POSIX-compliant and provides industry standard development tools including gcc, g++, gdb, bash shell, Perl, and many others, which are beneficial to Unix/Linux programmers because it means they can be productive immediately.

The previous product, Stratus VOS (, seems to have disappared although many references still remain on their FTP host via HTTP:

[UnixWare logo]UnixWare (SCO)
UnixWare is a Unix operating system, originally released by Univel, a jointly owned venture of AT&T's Unix System Laboratories (USL) and Novell Inc., is now maintained by The SCO Group (SCO).  UnixWare is primarily marketed as a reliable, scalable, secure Unix server.

[WindRiver logo]WindRiver VxWorks
Built on a highly scalable, deterministic, hard real-time kernel, backed by a 25-year track record, VxWorks enables companies to scale and optimize their run-time environment using only the specific technologies required by their device.  From the smallest footprint requirement to the highest performance level, WindRiver VxWorks gives developers the flexibility to build their optimal solution quickly and easily while meeting cost, quality, and functionality requirements.

[z/OS logo]z/OS (IBM)
IBM's z/OS is a highly secure, scalable, high-performance enterprise operating system on which to build and deploy Internet and Java-enabled applications, providing a comprehensive and diverse application execution environment.
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