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Desktop OS market share
as of November, 2012[1]
Microsoft Windows - 82%
Mac OS X and Mac OS - 6%
iOS - 6%
Android - 3%
Java ME - 1%
Linux - 1%
Other - 0%
The history of UNIX and its variants

UNIX, often spelled "Unix" when the product trademark is not important, is a multi-user multi-proccessing operating system. It was developed beginning in 1969 at Bell Labs. It was created by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Douglas McIlroy, and others, using the newly invented C programming language. The system itself is a multiuser and multiprocessing system, enabling it to perform multi-threaded applications, support multiple applications at one time, and support a large number of users at the same time. It also is network oriented; which means that it is able to operate well in a network of computers. Security is also emphasized in Unix, due to the requirements of the multiuser environment, but also due to the networking it is primarily made for.

Many ideas found in Unix were new. Other operating systems copied them. Today, there are many operating systems that have some of the ideas of Unix in them. For this reason, some people talk about a "Unix philosophy" of doing things. One of these systems with many of the Unix ideas in it, is called Linux. Linux does not use code from UNIX, it only shares some of the ideas. Therefore Linux is not a UNIX operating system. Instead it is called "Unix-like".

There can be many different users in a Unix-like operating system. Most of them have a personal area where they can put things. This is called a user account.

The main method of interacting with a Unix system is the command line interface. Users run commands and programs by typing text characters (the "command lines"). This is a very powerful and flexible way of working, because it allows things to be combined and done automatically, and it is still used by most Unix users and administrators.

A graphical user interface usually used by Unix systems is the X Window System. The X Window System is only a shell of a graphical interface. It is made of many protocols. The X Window System itself does not provide decorations for windows or controls to the user to move and resize windows. This is handled by a window manager or desktop manager.

Some of the popular desktop environments and window managers are:

Like most other graphical user interfaces, they use windows, dialog boxes, support the use of a computer mouse and are designed to be easy to use.

There are many thousands of programs available for the X Window System. Programs like word processors and spreadsheets are available including free and open-source software.

Two kinds[change | edit source]

Today, there are two kinds of operating systems that look like Unix. The first group contains all those that have common kernel code with the original, developed at Bell Labs, later AT&T. This includes the commercial UNIX variants, like Solaris, AIX or Mac OS X. The other group includes free ones that usually have BSD in their name, like FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD, and systems based on the Linux kernel. The free systems, with the exception of the BSD systems, do not have common code with the original UNIX. To avoid confusion, many people speak about Unix and Unix-like systems.

As to the applications, most can be made to run on any modern Unix or Unix-like system. KDE and GNOME were developed for Linux, and later ported to the commercial Unix variants.

Other websites[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Operating System Market Share, November 2012, courtesy of Net Applications, a marketing company which obtains its data from the Alexa Toolbar or related products. Because people who install these products on their computers are not always aware that the product reports web browsing habits back to the marketers at Alexa some security software considers the Alexa Toolbar spyware and removes it. Both the automated removal-as-spyware and the self-selecting nature of those who install software that reports on personal web browsing habits raises questions as to whether the resulting data represents a unbiased statistical sample of Internet users.