Unix vs Linux: Difference Between Linux and Unix

By | May 20, 2020
Unix vs linux

Difference between Unix and Linux is a prevalent interview question and many newcomer developers get confused UNIX with Linux because of their name resemblance, similar command features and applications. If we look at the market shear of Operating Systems, here Linux dominates over UNIX, however, both the operating systems can be used in various platforms for the same objectives. As compared to other Operating systems software developers like to work on Linux based operating systems because they are free and provide more security, and many developers are unaware of term UNIX, and they use Unix and Linux interchangeably, but they are not. Another reason for confusing Linux with Unix is their terminal commands, both the operating systems shear most of the similar command. Here we have provided a head to head comparison between Unix vs Linux, but before that have a look at the brief history of both the Operating systems.

What is Unix?

Unix came in existence before Linux, in 1969 it was developed by AT&T employee at Bell Labs. The main idea of designing Unix to develop an Operating System for PDP-7, which would multi-tasking and Multi-user by nature. Unix was written in C language which makes it portable and closer to the hardware of the system, by that time there were limited portable operating system, most of the operating systems were tightly linked to a specific set of hardware platforms. The portability nature of UNIX makes it popular among the developer community and soon it expends for academic, research and even for commercial purposes.


Unix was not free and Bell Labs started it selling as a Unix software via licensable via with its owner, AT&T. Unix was highly used for the academic and many universities bought Unix software from Bell labs, in early 70’s Berkeley delivers a new UNIX software Berkeley Software Distribution(BSD) which was just an add-on to the AT&T’s Bell Labs Unix, and this becomes more popular than AT&T’s UNIX itself.

What is Linux?

Linux itself is not a complete operating system it is just an OS kernel which is the core or heart to any Operating system. A Linux Distro can be considered as a complete Linux operating system which uses Linux as a kernel. Linux came in existence way after UNIX in the early ’90s, it introduced as UNIX-Like operating system, and referred as the best derivatives of UNIX, like BSD.

In 1992 Torvalds, was curious about the working of operating systems then he decided to make one of his own and started to work on an Operating System kernel which eventually becomes Linux. Torvalds used MINIX which was a Unix-Like operating system whose source code was available free but because of some licensing issue, it was prevented from being free software. At that same time, Richard Stallman was working on a project GNU (GNU not Unix), but by far he was able to create some utilities and other programs, and yet needed a kernel because without a kernel there is no Open Source operating system. Later the Linux project of Torvalds starts growing and the GNU tools and Utilities of Richard gave born to a new open-source Operating system which soon overthrew the popularity of Unix.

Unix vs Linux: Head to Head Comparison

Here you will get the complete difference between Unix and Linux in a tabular manner.

Linux Unix


Linux is a kernel of GNU/Linux operating system, it is not a fully-fledged operating system.

Linux Distro such as Ubuntu, Mint, etc can be considered as a Linux Operating System.

Unix is a fully-fledged operating system which is developed and owned by AT&T


It started by the cumulative effort of Linux and GNU foundation. All the code is developed by AT&T

Core Programming Language

It is written in C and some other programming languages It is also written in C and other programming languages.

Derived From

It is a clone of Unix, or we could say it is derived from Unix AT&T developed UNIX from scratch.

Using State

Still, it is used. Still used in many platforms


Open Source under proper licencing Some of the Unix projects are Open source, but most are paid

Language Support

It supports multiple languages It only Supports English

User Default Interface

The Linux provides the Unix Shell for user interaction; however, its distro provides some graphical interface too. It supports both Command Line Interface(CLI) as well as Graphical Interface.

Popular Distro or Derivatives

Android, Ubuntu, Mint, etc IBM, MacOS, Darwin, etc


It provides the best security and by now there is only a limited number of malware reported for the Linux. Unix also provides high security and now there are active viruses on Unix.


Linux can be used in various devices and platforms which include mobiles, tablets, servers, computers, laptops, smart devices, etc Unix is widely used in servers, workstations and PCs


Linux provides frequent updates which help in reducing the active viruses. frequent updates are not a feature of Unix, Unix developer takes their time before releasing any updates.


Both shear most of the common command line and graphical utilities.

Kernel Type

It has a Monolithic Kernel It supports various kernel types including monolithic, microkernel and hybrid.


This is the complete head to head comparison between Unix vs Linux. Unix is the main operating system and Linux is one of its family members. There is no doubt that Linux has overpowered Unix, because of its Open Source code and a huge community. Now there are more Linux distro’s than Unix derivatives, and even servers are adapting Linux over Unix. The frequent updates and growing open source distro also hyped the popularity of Linux amongst developers and other common users.

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