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The Definitive Guide to UNIX and UNIX-Like Operating Systems

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:08 pm    Post subject: The Definitive Guide to UNIX and UNIX-Like Operating Systems Reply with quote

The Definitive Resource on UNIX and UNIX-Like Operating Systems

This document is permanently under construction, which means that on new information being available, it will get updated

This document is written to serve as a *comprehensive repository about UNIX and related operating systems. While not directed at first time users (since the install procedures and UI's of many leave a lot to be desired), they're welcome to read up and comment! The guide to Linux might be a better starting option for them, though.

The Beginner's guide to Linux can be found here:

[NB: Any usage of UNIX should be read to mean, UNIX and UNIX-Like OSs.]

This doc is divided into 3 core areas : UNIX OSs classified on their usage/application areas. These are:

1)Professional/Organizational/Propreitary: These versions of UNIX have been developed by mega(!) corporations for self and client use. They are normally not suited to personal installations (correct me if I'm wrong..), and are normally developed keeping a certain goal in mind. An example is the IRIX system, developed by SGI, which is aimed at high end graphics workstations and similar uses.

2)Free/OpenSource: This classification contains those distributions which can be used freely for purposes as varied as setting up firewalls and gateways, to high end clustering.

3)Development Oriented: These versions are the classics, which help computer science students acutally peer into the innards of an OS, and learn their intricacies.


Arguable the most beautiful and application intensive operating system ever made, MAC OS X is the stuff OS heaven is made of. Seriously! The screenshots themselves will make you drool. The OS is a heady mix of the propreitary apple rendering mechanism, the darwin UNIX core and the X11 workstation. This means that it can run both X11 and Mac applications without any trouble. Compatibility with Windows makes it one of the only OSs which can run Adobe Photoshop, a UNIX terminal screen and
Sherlock, at the same time!

Pros: Elegant, Extensive Eyecandy,amazing compatibility with Linux,Windows
Cons: Hardware specific, expensive(?)
Latest Version: Panther
URL: http://www.apple.com/macosx

A propreitary UNIX solution from Silicon Graphics inc., it has been designed for SGI's range of graphics workstations and servers, and contain tools and other features which help in development of cutting edge graphics and multimedia solutions.

Pros:Interoperable between Novell Netware and AppleTalk, support for major graphics industry standards like OPENGL, Motif, X11 etc. , Scalability with SMP, high availability
Cons:Hardware specific (designed for propreitary SGI machines), expensive, not compatible with Linux
Latest Version:6.5
URL: http://www.sgi.com

Aimed at HP servers, it is a highly secure OS which ranks high in terms of manageability and applications which are mission critical.

(i)High Availability Clustering support (through ServiceGuard, the propreitary clustering solution)
(ii)Good Manageability (using OpenView, the management solution)
(iii)Security (using Host based IDSs, LDAP integration, Directory enabled computing, and Install time security - to provide security out of the box)
(iv)Performance and Scalability Provides storage management (using OpenView) and iCOD - Instant Capacity on Demand, which allows additional processors to be brought online when required.
Cons:Extremely expensive, propreitary, license based fees
Latest Version:11i
URL: http://www.hp.com/products1/unix/operating/

IBM's flagship UNIX product, this is again geared towards the server arena.It is a robust and scalable platform, with a strong linux affinity. Integrated security and being platform agnostic offer another dimension, different from other such products.

(i)Flexibility - Affinity with Linux
(ii) System Scalability - with efficient storage mechanisms for files as large as 16TB
(iii)Security Features - Kerberos authentication, Pluggable Authentication module (a custom solution to permit the use of distributed security services to reduce administrative effort associated with linking users to multiple applications)
(iv)Extensive Debugging and Profiling tools
Cons:Expensive, License based fees
Latest Version:5.2
URL: http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/aix/overview/index.html

5)SUN Solaris
This popular UNIX version from SUN offers very good features, and runs on a variety of hardware - including x86 and SPARC architectures. It includes several good features which make it a good service oriented OS.

(i)Manageability - using the resource and volume managers
(ii)Security - features such as Kerberos authentication, SSH support, IPSec, etc
(iv)High Availablity solutions
(v)Effective Compatibility with Linux
Cons:Expensive, Hardware specific
Latest Version:10
URL: http://www.sun.com/solaris

Free and OpenSource

The Berkeley systems division distribution of UNIX. Arguably one of the most famous of the old school, it now majorly exists as its 3 latest avatars : FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD. Mentioned below.

This is a free version of the BSD UNIX OS. It emphasizes on internet protocols, and security purposes. It is extremely suitable to set up gateways, firewalls and other related applications. It has all the typical UNIX features, and s extremely stable. It has available a list of ported software, which numbers over 10000. Installation of new software and their upgradation is very simple. It is also extensively compatible with linux.

Pros: Good Performance, High upgradeability, easy updates, consistent performance, linux compatiblity, huge software database, intensive security, extensive documentation
Cons: I wont be mentioning specific cons for any of the BSD's, because you can only dictate such terms in comparison to other OSs. In this case, there arent any comparitive OSs reviewed. [Am open to suggestions though!]
Latest Version: 5.2.1
URL: http://www.freebsd.org

The best things about OBSD are its extensive hardware support and integrated cryptography. This makes it an OS suited to run on a variety of platforms, for network uses. The security features too are extremely good, making it one of the most secure and stable OSs today.

Pros:Integrated Cryptography, Extensive hardware support, out of the box secure, good development platform, stable
Cons:--See FreeBSD--
Latest Version:3.4
URL: http://www.openbsd.org

Another of the BSD series, this is probably the most hardware supportive OS in the world. In the words of a NetBSD user, "If I have a spoon feeding me, then NetBSD is what computes the nutrients" or "Ofcourse it runs NetBSD". Sufficient background, i expect!

Pros: Hardware compatible, portable, smallest footprint (amongst BSDs), good package availability
Cons:--See FreeBSD--
Latest Version:1.6.2
URL: http://www.netbsd.org

Development Purposes

Written by Andrew Tanenbaum as a demo OS for his university class, MINIX was the inspiration(?) for Torvald's to create Linux. It is an extremely small OS, and is ideal for new students of OSs to analyze and work with. Its source code is available for free, and it is dealt with in Tanenbaum's book too.

Latest Version: 2.0
URL: www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/minix.html (official), www.minix.org (fan site?!)

This is another development and Demo OS written by Douglas Comer. Similar to MINIX, its much simpler than it, and even more effective in analysis of concepts and source code.
URL:Not Available
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Joined: 05 Sep 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Sweden


PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

looks like a good guide for those that seek to find experience on something other than Linux these days.

Just a note about OpenBSD, something should be mentioned when you mention OpenBSD is their PF which is very good and in my eyes is leading the development and increases the scope of firewalls and packet filtering.

Good job!
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Trusted SF Member
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Joined: 26 May 2002
Posts: 16777206
Location: Bi Mon Sci Fi Con


PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An excellent job mate! Cool

a few addendums.

Much as I hate to say it .... SCO Unixware, Openserver??

/me rushes of to wash shouting *unclean unclean* !

IBM also own Dynix but I don't think you can buy that any more.
Solaris runs on sparc , IA32, and IA64 (well amd64).
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SF Reviewer
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Joined: 07 Aug 2003
Posts: 3
Location: India


PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:31 pm    Post subject: Permanent Updates List Post Reply with quote


Following up some comments, i'll post a few more version as and when i get more info.

SCO Unixware
openBSD update

for now.

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Tudor Popescu
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you kindly. This information is very useful for me. Great site! Thanks again!

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