Unix vs Linux: differences and comparison

unix linux
unix linux

Dernière mise à jour: 19 mai 2024

Unix and Linux are like two cousins ​​in the world of computers. They look similar, but have different histories and characteristics. Let's take a look at their stories and what sets them apart.

The History of Unix

In the 1970s, a team in the United States created Unix for large computers. Later, this team made other versions of Unix.

Other companies also made their own versions of Unix. Then a university got Unix, changed it, and created a new version called BSD.

So, Unix has two main families: the original and BSD.

The History of Linux

In the 1990s, a man named Linus Torvalds wanted to create a system like Unix, but different.

He wrote a new core for this system and called it Linux. Linux was made for small computers, not big ones like Unix. Then other people added features to Linux to make it complete. Today, there are many versions of Linux, and some are free.

The main differences between Unix and Linux

Types of machines they are installed on

In the beginning, Unix was mainly installed on large systems. In contrast, Linux was intended for microcomputers.

However, over time, Linux has expanded to be used on supercomputers, but oddly enough, Unix is ​​not commonly found on typical personal computers.


After considering machine types, another key point is interoperability.

The Linux community has always highlighted this notion, favoring standardized protocols, open formats and public technical specifications, which guarantees great adaptability.

Origins and development

On the one hand, Unix was designed by Bell Labs and later adapted by giants such as IBM and HP. On the other hand, Linux has grown thanks to a more community approach with volunteer developers.

This fundamental difference allowed Linux to offer a variety of applications in many areas, while Unix remained relatively closed and often more expensive.


 Continuing on the theme of diversity, Linux stands out for its specialized distributions.

Each distribution combines the Linux kernel with specific software to meet distinct needs, whether Android for smartphones or Ubuntu for PCs. In contrast, Unix is ​​designed for more consistent use.

Presence in the general public

While Unix remains anchored in the world of servers, Linux has gradually found a place in the general public market. Thanks to the diversity of its applications and its user-friendly interfaces, it is attracting more and more users of personal computers, an area where Unix is ​​almost absent.

Savings made

Finally, one of the major advantages of Linux is its cost. Its ability to install on standard PC hardware provides significant savings.

Previously, servers with similar functions often required more expensive Unix systems. Thus, Linux often represents an interesting economical alternative.

Unix today: Where are we?

So, do we still use Unix today? Yes, even if we talk about it less with the rise of Linux. Here are some areas where Unix still plays a role:

  • Macs : If you have a Mac, you are using some kind of Unix without knowing it. macOS, the operating system for Macs, is actually based on Unix.
  • Businesses : Some large companies have computers that run Unix. They use it because they've always done it that way and it works well for them.
  • Phones and Internet : Unix is ​​often hidden in the large equipment that runs our phones and the Internet.
  • Special tasks : In certain very specific jobs, such as finance or industry, Unix is ​​used because it is solid and reliable.
  • Schools and universities : Many schools still teach how Unix works. It's a good way to learn how computers work in general.