In this comparison of Linux versus Unix, we’ll answer some of your questions and explain the basics of each. If you’re considering a switch from Windows or Mac to Linux, we’ll give you a list of the popular Linux distros or Unix flavors you can choose from to start your research. And to reduce the overwhelm of exploring a new system even further, we’ll also give you examples of which distros to explore if you’re looking for a replacement for Mac or Windows and if you’re a graphic designer, gamer, or office user.
Linux Versus Unix
- Is Unix the same as Linux?
- Is Linux like Windows or Mac?
- What is a Distro?
- How Do I Know which Linux or Unix is Right for Me?
- Where Can I Find Linux Resources?
Linux versus Unix: Basics
When it comes to operating systems, Unix is the granddaddy of sorts. First created in the 1960’s, it’s gone through constant evolutions over the years. Linux and Unix are open-source systems which mean their code is accessible, unlike the proprietary Windows software. Both Linux and Unix are also free to users. Some say that Linux is a flavor of Unix and others insist that it is a clone of Unix. Linus Torvalds wrote Linux and licensed under GNU Public License.
The graphical user interface (GUI) in a Unix or Linux system is what many people are used to from a Windows or Mac environment. In a Unix system, some functions won’t be covered by the GUI which means you need knowledge of Unix to perform various functions by typing commands.
The center or brain of the Unix system is called the kernel, and it executes processes. The Shell is the middle man and runs interference between the kernel and the programs or commands typed in by the user. The shell can be changed temporarily as desired and shells can be modified by users with advanced knowledge.
Linux vs Unix: Distros and Flavors in 2017
A distro in Linux or a flavor in Unix is a packaging of software components configured to be used “as is” for a specific purpose. For Unix, there are hundreds of “flavors” popular with Unix-like systems such as Solaris OS for SPARC or for x86, AIX by IBM, BSD/OS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Mac OS X Panther, and more.
With Linux developed decades after Unix, there are several different popular distributions or distros available to choose from, and each of them has slightly different emphasis and features. Popular Linux distros include ArchLinux, Debian, OpenSuse, Fedora, Zorin, Manjaro, Ubuntu, Linux Mint.
Unix vs Linux-Which is Right for me?
When it comes to comparing Linux versus Unix, it’s important to look at Linux distros and Unix flavors that are similar in purpose or emphasis. Every person’s needs are different and the only one to truly determine which Unix or Linux distro is best is you. With that said, here are some suggestions for distros or flavors to explore based on their focus and emphasis:
Ubuntu is an easy to use interface and is one of the most well-known distros for a good reason. It has a comprehensive package manager, and the community of Ubuntu users is extremely supportive. If you need a distro where you can lean on the community of users for support and questions, this is the way to go.
Linux Mint is based on Debian and Ubuntu distros and is said to be pretty functional straight out of the box. It includes things like browser plugins, DVD playback support, and media Kodex. It’s a good option for those who don’t want to have to mess around with multiple downloads during the setup. It focuses on stability, not visual appearance. The current version is Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa. It’s a good alternative for both Windows and Mac users.
ZorinOS is designed with a goal of being as close to the Windows environment as possible. Its developers intended it to be as user-friendly as possible. It would be a decent replacement for Windows for the casual office user. Window users looking to make the switch should also look at Robolinux and ChaletOS. If Zorin is the Windows replacement, then ElementaryOS is the Mac alternative, and you’ll find several custom designed apps that other Linus distros don’t include. Also in the running for Mac users are Ubuntu Gnome and Solus.
If graphic design is your thing, look at distros like Ubuntu based openArtist or Ubuntu Studio or AV Linux. The menu on OpenArtist boasts a host of software functions organized by function and a choice of design package versions, such as Blender. For those with music in the soul, try distros like Ubuntu Studio, AVLinux, or KXStudio. Those looking for a distro for gaming need to have drivers for the graphics cards. Most of the modern desktop distros will fit the bill, but gamers will want to check out distros like Steam OS, Play Linux, Fedora Games Spin, Game Drift Linux, or Ubuntu GamePack.
Before making the complete switch, you may want to try out a Linux system. You can do this using something like VirtualBox by Oracle. It’s designed to let users try out a guest operating system on their host system.
Other resources for anyone looking to make a switch from one system to another include:
Switching from a traditional desktop environment like Windows or even Mac which is already Linux based to a Linux is a major move for many people and should not be undertaken lightly. There is quite a bit of a learning curve, especially for Windows users or anyone who doesn’t have knowledge of using commands. Ensure you’ve done your research when it comes to Linus vs Unix before making this kind of a move.
Talk to Linux vs Unix users to get a feel for which you prefer. Join a Linux-based users group and get advice on what knowledge you’ll need and how much time you can expect to invest in the changeover. Those who have made the switch report no regrets other than perhaps wishing they’d taken more time when choosing their first distro so do your homework up front to prevent any frustrations later.