Difference Between Linux and Unix

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

Difference Between Linux and Unix: Linux and Unix are multi-user operating systems. Both Linux and Unix are widely used operating systems. The major difference between Linux and Unix is that Linux is an open-source operating system, whereas Unix is proprietary.

Linux is open-source, derived from Unix, with a wider range of distributions, while Unix has a proprietary nature, established standards, and an extensive history with various commercial versions. Here, we will first discuss the difference between Linux and Unix based on various factors; thereafter, we will discuss what is Linux and Unix to understand the difference between them.

What is the Difference Between Linux and Unix?

Linux is freely available, highly customizable, and has a larger user community. Unix is a proprietary system with stricter standards, a longer history, and more commercial variations. There exist differences between both operating systems as the basic characteristics and ideation regarding formulation differ.

Differentiate Between Linux and Unix



The Broader public has access to the Linux source code.

The source code for Unix is private.

Linus Torvalds created the Linux operating system in 1991 at the University of Helsinki.

At AT&T Bell Labs, UNIX OS was developed in the late 1960s.

BASH is Linux’s default shell.

Bourne Shell is the Unix shell.

Linux offers quick threat identification and resolution.

Wait time for the correct bug-fixing patch is longer for Unix users.

The important Linux releases are Redhat, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, and Solaris.

The Unix versions HP-UX, AIS, BSD, etc. are significant ones.

Numerous devices run Linux, including desktops, servers, cellphones, and mainframes.

Most servers, workstations, and PCs run Unix.

The use of Linux is free.

Unix is a licensed OS.

What is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system widely in use nowadays. It was developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. This operating system is free to use. The Linux operating system is a multi-user, multi-tasking, open-source operating system.

Linux is sometimes called a clone of Unix, designed to act as the Unix operating system. It is essential to know that Linux is just a Kernal, not a complete operating system. Linux kernel is used to build the iteration of the Android OS.

Examples of the Linux operating systems are Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Debian GNU, etc.

History and Origins of Linux

  • Developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
  • Created as a free and open-source alternative to proprietary operating systems.
  • Built upon the GNU Project and GNU tools.
  • Derived from the Unix operating system.
  • Initially intended for personal use but gained popularity and community contributions.
  • Adoption by universities and research institutions propelled its growth.
  • Various distributions (e.g., Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian) emerged based on the Linux kernel.

What is Unix?

Unix is the mother of a few operating systems as it is the base for creating those operating systems such as Linux. The basic characteristic of Unix is that it uses plain text for storing data and follows a hierarchical file system approach. This is not free to use as Linux operating system and is only used by licensed users.

The kernel of the Unix operating system is known as the heart of the system, as it has complete control over the system.

Examples of Unix operating systems are AIX, HP/UX, ULTRIX, SunOS, Solaris, SCO UNIX, etc.

History and Origins of Unix

  • Developed at Bell Labs in the late 1960s and early 1970s by programmers including Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie.
  • Originally intended for internal use at Bell Labs.
  • First released outside of Bell Labs in 1971.
  • Adopted by universities and research institutions.
  • Various commercial versions emerged in the 1980s.
  • Evolved into different branches, including BSD and System V.
  • UNIX has various flavors, such as Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux and Unix

Let us see the comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of Linux and Unix in order to understand their differences better:

Factor Advantages of Linux Advantages of Unix Disadvantages of Linux Disadvantages of Unix
Open Source Customizability and Flexibility Stability and Robustness Learning Curve for New Users Proprietary Nature and Licensing Costs
Wide Range of Scalability and Performance Scalability and Performance Hardware and Driver Compatibility Issues Limited Hardware Support
Software and Rich Set of Networking Capabilities Established Standards and Interoperability Fragmentation and Distribution Variations Steep Learning Curve for Beginners
Applications Strong Security Features Strong Security Model Limited Support for Proprietary Software Lack of User-friendly Interfaces
Cost-effectiveness Excellent Command Line Interface Excellent Command Line Interface Gaming and Multimedia Challenges Smaller Community and Support
Community Support Suitable for Large Enterprise Environments Longevity and Industry Experience Lack of Standardization Slower Adaptation to New Technologies

Here are a few articles related to the differences between Linux and Unix:

Difference Between Linear and Non-Linear Data Structures Difference Between drop and truncate
Difference Between Hard Copy and Soft Copy Difference Between stack and queue
Difference Between High-Level and Low-Level Languages Difference Between overloading and overriding
Difference Between Encoder and Decoder Difference between div and span
Difference Between MAC Address and IP Address Difference between keyword and identifier
Difference Between Structure and union Difference Between Algorithm, Pseudocode, and Program
Difference Between hub and switch Difference Between Java and JavaScript
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium