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(table valid for autumn 2003, update 15. Nov 2003: x86_64 (AMD64) added)

UNIX motto: freedom!click for bigger plate (opens in own window)

Since the creation of UNIX systems in the early 70s of the 20th century there has a considerable number of flavors evolved. Because CPUs as hardware basics evolve very quickly, the deployment of these changed and continues to change. And so the dominant UNIX flavor on appearing respective slowly vanishing CPUs changes too sometimes. Since all but one proprietary, non-UNIX OS are totally or virtually dead respective obviously dying, and in about 5 years I estimate, that the last (not) mentioned proprietary OS will bite the dust too — you certainly know, which I mean! —; this table with some trends marked shows not only the picture of the current and probable near future UNIX world, but of the OS world in total because of the extinction of all non-UNIX OSs in the near future.

Virtually all of these UNIX systems (UNIX is a registered trademark of the Open Group, at least at the time of the writing, it has changed sometimes in the past) are protected by name and contents of course, despite their common origins in the AT&T labs (today Lucent) at the beginning of the 70s, mostly to companies (for example Sun Microsystems owns Solaris, Apple Inc. owns Mac OS X), but sometimes also to others like GNU/Linux (owned by Linus Torvalds respective Richard Stallman). And the CPU names are protected even better you know…

Regarding GNU/LINUX, the partly already (available CPU support!) dominance of it is expected to grow even more strongly in the foreseeable future, but maybe one day a better flavor of UNIX (most likely a similar system like Mac OS X, using the GNU Hurd Kernel?) may replace it too nevertheless?

If a CPU or OS or a combination of both is questionable to exist still in five years from now, I have put a question mark in behind; a lower x marks availability of a UNIX flavor (arranged in rows, in brackets year of introduction so far I know) for the CPU (arranged in columns), an upper case X a more relevant availability with some considerable distribution and a big, bold P means dominance on that CPU, usually dwarfing the other “competitors” (if any) on that CPU. Newest I have introduced a bold M additionally, to label generel dominance on that CPU, including the proprietary non-UNIX systems. I hope that this table is helpful for some of you or at least interesting. It's not easy to get this completely and 100% correct, so any additions/corrections by you visitors is highly appreciated! Only major CPUs and UNIX flavors are included anyway, in case you miss some rare beasts. And by the way, if you're seeking for more details about relations and history of UNIX, look at this fine French site.


hor.: CPU vert.: flavor IA32 ? / AMD K-X ? Power PC SPARC Alpha ? PA-RISC ? Mips ? IA64 x86_64 (AMD) S/390 M68??? ??
GNU/Linux (1983/1991) P X x X x x P M X P
Solaris (1982, as SunOS) x ?   P              
AIX (1986)   X ?                
Mac OS X (2001) (x) (Darwin) M                
OSF/Tru64 (1990, as OSF/1)       P ?            
HP-UX (1982)         P ?   x      
IRIX (1988)           P ?        
Open Edition (1985, as IX/370)                 P ?  
Open UNIX (UnixWare, OpenServer) (1993) X ?                  
*BSD (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, especially NetBSD) (1978–1993) X ? x x x x x   x   x


Final remarks: IBMs Open Edition and Apples Mac OS X are somewhat special versions of UNIX systems: the Open Edition, some kind of an add-on to the highly proprietary and in my view also doomed host OS, is polluted with some host-specific (non-)features; and Mac OS X lives without the standard UNIX GUI base X server by default (but it can be installed additionally relatively easy), features on the other hand the only object oriented Kernel in this table so far (I know).


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