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Solved Whats the best Unix OS to use for a beginner?

August 16, 2011 at 16:18:44
Specs: Windows 7
Whats the best Unix OS to use for a beginner to get comfortable with Unix?

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August 17, 2011 at 04:44:51
You'll probably find some form of Linux is easiest to install and use. People swear by Ubuntu and Mint, so I suppose they must be good for beginners.

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August 17, 2011 at 18:46:58
Thats linux, im talking about unix, they are different linux is a unix like os but it is not unix.

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August 17, 2011 at 23:36:57
✔ Best Answer
There are several different flavours of Unix. Which one do you want to learn? If you know enough to know that Linux is not Unix then what aspects of Unix are you interested in that aren't implemented in Linux?

If you just want to learn generic Unix, then Linux is as good as anything else. It implements all the basic Unix system calls and runs the same programs as any real Unix. It's an ideal way for a beginner to learn the basics of Unix.

To learn a particular variant in greater detail you need to specify which variant interests you.

Edit: I've checked, and there are only four Unixes that are registered as complying to the Unix03 standard:

Mac OS X (10.5 or 10.6)
HP-UX (11i V3 Release B.11.31 or later)
IBM AIX (5L and 6)
Solaris (10 and later)

If you have the hardware, the first three are fine choices. If not, Solaris is your only option.

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August 18, 2011 at 20:23:08
thats what im asking. im asking which one is the easiest and free to use.

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August 18, 2011 at 23:30:47
I've already answered your question. Unless you have the specialized hardware to run the other ones, Solaris is your only choice. You don't have that hardware or you would already be running Unix.

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September 2, 2011 at 17:07:14
I heavily recommend you try out FreeBSD (

OpenBSD / NetBSD good also.

If you don't get on with the BSDs try maybe OpenSolaris.

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September 2, 2011 at 23:51:59
The BSDs are great but, like Linux, they don't fit the OP's requirement to be official Unix. As far as learning how to use Unix, any Linux or BSD would be ideal. Who cares about the internal implementation?

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September 4, 2011 at 15:38:06
Give me a break. The only reason they can't call the BSD's 'official UNIX' is due to legal issues only. FreeBSD uses exactly the same system calls/APIS/internals etc.

Linux is completely different, internally and implementation. Linux is just 'like UNIX' whereas BSD is exactly the same. Socket programming for one example is completely different on Linux than UNIX.

So if he is interested in programming as one example, he should care, instead of taking your ignorance as gospel.

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September 4, 2011 at 23:21:18
Although implemented differently, Linux supports all the Unix system calls. The same is true of OS X, which is a true Unix but is implemented differently from Solaris, for example. If you want to call me ignorant perhaps you could tell me what Unix system calls aren't supported.

As far as learning Unix is concerned, even Unix programming, Linux is as good as anything else.

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September 5, 2011 at 05:49:57
just because the name is the same or similar doesn't mean they behave the same. Even in the 'official' UNIX the names vary slightly..........

one major difference between programming Linux + BSD etc. is that in Linux system call parameters are passed using registers. In BSD they are passed on the stack. So not really 'the same' is it.

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September 5, 2011 at 07:55:10
I'll resist the temptation to call you ignorant, but I will point out a few basic facts.

You have certainly demonstrated a difference between Linux and FreeBSD. But that doesn't mean that either of them are a true UNIX. The calling convention, both for APIs and System Calls is not part of the UNIX specification. That's why libraries exist that provide stubs for the calls. In practice it depends upon the processor that the OS is implemented on.

In OS X, for example, System Call parameters are passed in registers, not on the stack. OS X is, indisputably a true UNIX (and has been certified as such). The same is true of AIX, another certified UNIX. So I guess, by your argument, Linux is more like a couple of true UNIXes than FreeBSD is. But that argument is fatally flawed. You are assuming a part of the UNIX specification that doesn't exist.

The truth is that all UNIX variants, and all UNIX-like systems differ in implementation and in low-level features such as calling conventions. The same OS may even differ depending upon whether it is a 32-bit or a 64-bit implementation on the same processor. If you want to learn to program UNIX at the level you describe then you have to use the particular UNIX that is your target. In practice any sensible programmer will make use of the library stubs to System Calls, or even higher level library routines. (Once you start using registers or the stack you are into assembler programming; fascinating though this is there is no way that you can learn UNIX assembler programming without using the specific system you want to program for.) These are essentially portable between the various UNIX and Unix-like OSs and are designed to hide implementation details.

If the OP wants to learn UNIX programming then Linux will do the job just fine. If he wants to learn how to administer a UNIX system then he needs to use that particular system. System administration is very different between, FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris, and AIX. And if he just wants to learn a generic "UNIX" system - how the commands work, the file structure, that sort of thing - then, again, Linux will do the job just fine.

So, again I would ask - since you have called me "ignorant" would you be kind enough to demonstrate a difference between all true UNIX systems and Linux. Otherwise I might begin to suspect that you are pontificating beyond your comfort level.

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September 12, 2011 at 08:58:40

Just out of my own curiosity, being a beginner in the *nix class of OS's.....and because you seem to know something about the subject matter

Who, or perhaps I should be asking, what organization, decides what versions of UNIX are "official" or "true" and on what criteria is it based?

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***

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September 13, 2011 at 13:51:20

I don't track this stuff much myself, but you can read about unix certification at

It speaks about the latest Unix standard 03

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September 24, 2011 at 13:10:02
Curt - sorry not to reply earlier as I've been off-line for a couple of weeks, but nails has given you the reference. The truth is that all of the "unix-like" OSs are, to all intents and purposes, UNIX in all but name. TBH, most people would find the free BSDs or Linux to be much closer to the general concept of UNIX than OS X, for example. But the latter is a certified UNIX whereas the former two aren't. It's largely a question of money; the people who look after the free systems can't afford, and probably aren't interested too much in, the certification process.

As far as I am concerned, if you can take a program written for a genuine UNIX OS and recompile it on another OS with only trivial changes then they're both "Unix" - or perhaps we should make that "unix". Most people are more concerned with the command-line utilities, rather than low-level programming, so if anyone wants to learn how to use UNIX and all the command-line programs that are associated with it then Linux provides an ideal environment.

If you want to learn the nitty-gritty of configuring and maintaining a Solaris system, for example, that's another matter. Linux won't teach you that (although it would give you a good foundation to build on); but neither would AIX or OS X (or, indeed, FreeBSD).

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September 28, 2011 at 07:21:58
Thanks for the info Nails/ijack.

There's enough info there to keep me reading for a while.

I'm still a beginner in the UNIX world and was just curious, now I'll know! lol

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***

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