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Thursday, March 4, 2010

UNIX

Starting as a project by two Bell laboratories researchers, Dennis Ritchie and Kenneth Thompson, who simply wanted to make computing easier for themselves, the UNIX gradually became industry standard around the 1960s up till date. This was against the backdrop that the two researchers wanted an operating system that was easier, safer and user friendlier than Multics, the operating system which was being used at the time by Bell Laboratories. Though it never could topple Bill Gate’s MS-DOS and later Windows, it had by the 1980s become the most transported operating system used by large and middle-sized computers. Written in C, UNIX was developed by AT&T.
The UNIX OS can be said to have been a major player in the development of the internet due to its unique environment and server-client model. Its popularity also arose principally from the fact that it was freely distributed. Currently, many UNIX derivatives are distributed both freely and commercially.
Made up of the Kernel, file system and the command-line interface called the shell, UNIX boasts of more than 600 commands enabling users to manipulate data in any conceivable way. The above noted, UNIX has many advantages that makes it the best operating system to use.
Regarding cost, UNIX can be said to be very cost effective since it exists in both freeware and commercial distributions. This makes it better than the totally commercialised operating systems that exist today, for instance windows.
In matters of portability, none compares with the UNIX system. Because of the many distributions of different versions of UNIX, such as Linux (which also comes in many distributions) Sun’s Solaris, etc, one can easily use programs designed for one distribution in other distributions and not have to worry about efficiency. Currently, with the embedding of winetools in the source code of many UNIX distributions, many application software developed especially for the windows platform can now be used by UNIX users.
Because UNIX is freeware, it makes available source codes to people who intend to adapt them for personal use or in the name of education. This cannot be said for licensed OS like Windows which makes it a crime to edit its (window’s) source code. Because of that, one can always expect better output from the UNIX because there are so many people working to make it better to use.
Security is also better in a UNIX system than many other operating systems. Because of the compact layers of the UNIX kernel and the command-line Shell which requires that only the administrator with Super User (SU) privileges can change system parameters, it is very difficult to encounter security breaches from malware and unauthorised access.
Finally, it is worth noting that gone are the days when the UNIX shell scared a lot of people from using UNIX. Now with the incorporation of the motif GUI in many UNIX distributions, including Linux, it has become user friendly yet maintaining its security. No wonder the increasing popularity UNIX distributions, such as Linux, enjoy presently.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Slater, Robert, Portraits in Silicon, The MIT Press, Cambridge, 1992.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix, 11-02-2010
http://www.unix.org/what_is_unix.html The Open Group, 28 December 2003, 11-02 -2010
http://www.unix.org/whitepapers/uos.pdf, the Open Group, 11-02-2010

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