Understanding the History, Versions, and Main Components of UNIX.

This is the first article of our new series of UNIX articles. In this segment, we are going to discuss the history, meaning of different versions and core components of UNIX.

The Unix operating system was developed by a gathering of researchers at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories. Unix has discovered a place in numerous spots, from the mainframe computer to home computer systems to the smallest of hardware devices. This first article of our UNIX Article series gives a detailed overview of the historical backdrop of Unix and covers the major ideas of the fundamental Unix operating system.

History of Unix

In 1969, Bell Labs analysts developed the first version of Unix (at that point called UNICS or Uniplexed Operating and Computing System), which has developed into the normal Unix systems as of today.

As Unix picked up acknowledgement by colleges, students who used it started graduating and moving into positions where they were responsible for buying systems and software. At the point when those individuals started buying systems for their organizations, they considered Unix since they knew about it, spreading adoption further. Since the primary long periods of Unix, the operating system has developed fundamentally, with the goal that it currently shapes the foundation of many significant companies’ computer systems.

Unix never again is an abbreviation for anything, however it is gotten from the UNICS abbreviation.

Versions of Unix

In the good old days Unix was made accessible as source code instead of in the common binary form. This made it simpler for others to alter the code to address their issues and it resulted in forks in the code which means that there are presently numerous different adaptations.

There are essentially two base versions of Unix: AT&T System V and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). By far most of all Unix flavors are based on one of these two versions. The main differences between the two are the utilities accessible and the usage of the file structure. A large portion of the Unix versions include the System V adaptation utilities in /usr/bin and the BSD version in/usr/ucb/bin so you have the decision of using a utility with which you are agreeable.

The different adaptations of Unix frameworks give the users the power of decision: you can choose the distribution that best matches your necessities or system requirements. This capacity to pick is considered by numerous individuals as a quality of strength, although some consider it to be a weakness in that, these different adaptations and implementations create a few incompatibilities (in the execution, commands, communications and more). There is no official version of Unix; there are simply unique implementations. Linux, for instance, is a variation of Unix that was developed starting from the earliest stage as a free Unix-like option in contrast to the costly business Unix versions available at that time. Here are a portion of the more famous kinds of Unix operating systems: Solaris, Darwin, FreeBSD, NetBSD, macOS etc.

Every one of these versions implements its version of Unix in a somewhat different manner, yet despite the fact that the usage of a command may change on certain systems, the main commands and its functionality follow the standards of one of the two significant unix versions. For instance, there are two versions of the ‘ps’ command (for showing processes) available on most systems. One version of ps may live in/usr/bin/ps (the System V version) while the other may exist in/usr/ucb/bin (BSD version); the commands work similarly, yet give output or accept arguments in a different way.

In 1991 Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student, started working on a Unix-like system called Linux. Linux is really the kernel (we will talk about it in future articles). As the Linux project picked up momentum, it developed into a significant contender in the Unix community. Numerous individuals are first acquainted with Unix through Linux.

Another free version of Unix that has picked up popularity is the BSD group of software. These freely accessible Unix distributions have given new life to the Unix operating system, which had been encountering a decrease as the Microsoft Windows  progressed. Moreover, Apple has become the most noteworthy volume provider of Unix systems. Presently Unix is pushing ahead in the professional workplace just as in the end user desktop market.

Different Components of Unix

An operating system acts as an user interface between the user and the hardware of a system. Regardless of whether your OS is Unix, DOS, Windows, or something different, all that you do as a user or software engineer interacts with the hardware here and there. Unix began as a Command Line Interface (CLI) system, there was no Graphical UI (GUI) to make the system simpler to use. Presently Unix has probably the most adjustable UIs accessible, in the types of the Mac OS and Linux’s KDE and GNOME interfaces.

Let’s take a look on components that make up the Unix Operating System: The Kernel and The Shell.

Unix Kernel

The Kernel is the most minimal layer of the Unix framework. It gives the main capabilities of the systems and permits processes (programs) to get to the hardware in a deliberate way. Fundamentally, the kernel control processes, input/output devices, file system tasks, and some other basic capacities required by the operating system. It additionally manages memory. These are totally called autonomous capacities, in that they are run without directions by a user procedure. The Kernel permits the system to run in multiuser (more than one user working on the system simultaneously), performing multitasking (more than each program running simultaneously).

History of Unix, Understanding the History, Versions, and Main Components of UNIX., TechRX

A Kernel is developed for the particular hardware on which it is working, so a Kernel worked for an ARM Machine can’t be run on an Intel processor machine without changes. Since the Kernel manages low-level tasks, for example, getting to the hard drive or performing multiple tasks, and isn’t easy to understand by the normal user.

Unix Shells

The Shell is a command line interpreter that makes the user interact with the operating systems. The first Unix shells have been modified into a wide range of different types of shells throughout the years, all with some one of a kind component that the developers felt was inadequate in other shells. There are three significant shells accessible on most systems: The Bourne Shell (likewise called SH), the C shell (CSH) and the Korn shell (KSH).

The Bourne shell (likewise essentially called Shell) was the main shell for Unix. It is as yet the most generally accessible shell on Unix systems, giving a language (Shell Scripting) to develop scripts. The C shell is another popular shell commonly available on Unix systems. This shell, from the University of California at Berkeley, was created to address some of the shortcomings of the Bourne shell and to resemble the C language (which is what Unix is built on). The Korn shell was created by David Korn to address the Bourne shell’s user-interaction issues and to deal with the shortcomings of the C shell’s scripting quirks. The only drawback to the Korn shell is that it requires a license, so its adoption is not as universal as that of the other two.

Here are some of the well known shells accessible for the Unix systems: SH (called the Bourne Shell), KSH (Korn Shell), BASH (Bourne Again Shell, an improved version of Bourne Shell), ZSH (Z Shell), TCSH (TENEX C Shell)

The Other Components

The other Unix components are the File System Structure and The Utilities. The file system makes the user to view, organize, secure and interact with, in a steady way, files and folders (or directories) stored on the Unix system. (will examine it in detail in future articles)

Utilities are the applications that make the user to work on the Unix system (not the Shells). These utilities incorporate the Web Browser for exploring the Internet, Word processors, email programs.

We will continue the series in the next article. Stay Tuned !

Share your thoughts and comments with us in the comments below.​


  • History of Unix, Understanding the History, Versions, and Main Components of UNIX., TechRX

    My name is Biplab Das. I’m the leader of TechRX and Founder of and Professionally I'm a full-time IT support engineer whose childhood obsession with science fiction never quite faded. A quarter-century later, the technology that I coveted as a kid is woven into the fabric of everyday life. People say smartphones are boring these days, but I think everyone is beginning to take this wonderful technology marvel for granted.

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