newbie: Unix Flavors
date: 7.31.99

Why the different flavors?

As more and more people began developing unix, the more they wanted their
own implementations. Disagreement among how things should work no doubt
lead to small groups branching off to create their own version of unix.
Rather than fighting over the design of the operating system, these 
individuals simply started their own projects. This was made possible 
because of the idea of open source code. The idea of free software that
can be modified to suit your own needs is summed up at

Many distributions run on proprietary hardware and are targeted at large
businesses. Other free distributions are aimed at the end user who is looking
for a powerful and flexible operating system.

That in mind, many people broke off previous unix projects to work on
their own distributions. Over the years, these have developed into dozens
of well known, commercial, and/or popular versions used today. Below
are many of the flavors found in today's networked world. Keep in mind
that the average user will probably be experimenting with some distribution
of Linux, BSD, or Solaris.

For a more detailed, comprehensive (and technical list, visit 
section 6.6 of the Unix FAQ.

AIX IBM Commercial/$ RISC AIX is created and developed by IBM, primarily for their own hardware. Even among unix flavors, many administrators consider AIX to be quite different than the others. A/UX Apple (dead?) Apple From the Unix FAQ: But I hear Apple has decided to drop A/UX (will go for AIX now that they're together with IBM on the PPC). BSDI BSDI Commercial/$ x86/PC From the BSDI web page: BSDI is the commercial supplier of the BSD/OS originally developed at the University of California, Berkeley. We concentrate on delivering and supporting robust, stable BSD/OS powered internet server software wherever cost effective, reliable and high performance solutions are required. FreeBSD FreeBSD Open/Free x86/PC FreeBSD is the most popular free derivitave of the BSD line of Unix. On top of being powerful and robust, it is open source and very stable. HP-UX HewlettPackard Commercial/$ HP (CISC/RISC) Created by Hewlett Packard, HP-UX is designed for their own line of hardware. HP-UX is a commercial version of Unix designed for high end business applications. IRIX SGI Commercial/$ SGI Silicon Graphics created IRIX for their own line of hardware. Well known for their powerful graphics ability, IRIX/SGI can be found developing many of the special affects found in movies today. Linux - Open/Free x86/Sparc/more Linux is probably the most commonly used flavor of unix out there today. Like the term 'unix', 'linux' has now come to mean any one of a number of distributions. Slackware The first distribution of linux, Slackware has received continued development and additions since 1991. Redhat Redhat is a more commercialized version of Linux. Well known for its ease of install, RPM package (which allows one command installation of utilities) and robust support, Redhat is gaining ground in the work place. Other distributions: Minix - Open/Commercial x86/PC/Atari/Amiga/Mac Minix is an older but stable flavor of unix able to be run on systems with small hard drives. For older computers lacking power, this may be a great option. NetBSD NetBSD Open/Free (almost any hardware) From the NetBSD page: The NetBSD Project is a collective volunteer effort to produce a freely available and redistributable UNIX-like operating system. NetBSD runs on a broad range of hardware platforms and is highly portable. It comes with complete source code, and is user-supported. NEXTSTEP Apple Commercial/$ x86/HP/NeXT NeXT is a little known about and little used Unix flavor that is akin to IRIX in that it is graphic heavy. Often found on NeXT hardware, these machines are a lot of fun to play with and strong with multimedia. OpenBSD OpenBSD Open/Free x86/Sparc/more OpenBSD is a spinoff of the Net/FreeBSD projects. The primary focus seems to be security more than anything. OpenSolaris Sun OpenSource x86/Sparc OpenSolaris is an open source operating system based on Sun Microsystems's Solaris. Like Solaris, it still Sun's version of unix being developed today, but with community's contribution. Sun has released most of the Solaris source code under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), which is based on the Mozilla Public License (MPL) version 1.1. OSF/1 DEC Commercial/$ DEC Now (apparently) called 'Tru64 Unix', OSF/1 is a high end 64 bit version of unix geared toward large servers and companies. Solaris Sun Commercial/$/Open x86/Sparc Solaris is Sun's version of unix being developed today. Based on SVR4 rather than BSD (as SunOS was), Solaris is one of the more widely used flavors of Unix in enterprise networks. Solaris is often used and found on older Sun hardware for hobbyists as well. Solaris source code is now available. SunOS Sun Commercial/$ Sparc/i386 No longer being developed, SunOS is Sun's previous iteration of Unix based on BSD. Designed for Sun hardware only, it provides a stable and fairly well supported platform for companies and individuals alike. Unixware SCO Commercial/$ x86/more Unixware (aka SCO) is a fairly old and infrequently used OS that is gaining a bit more popularity in recent years. Ultrix DEC Commercial/$ x86/more One of DEC's older flavors of Unix, it is no longer being developed in favor of 'Tru64 Unix'. UNICOS SGI Commercial/$ Cray Unicos is the primary operating system found on Cray super computers. Now owned by SGI, Unicos continues to serve SGI's continued development on the Cray computers. (c) copyright 1998, 1999 Brian Martin