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UnixRevew.com: MacWeek Says UNIX Is Not an Operating System

Oct 19, 2000, 22:40 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Casad)

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"Every gives examples of some of the features that must be present in a "real" operating system and that (apparently) he doesn't consider part of UNIX, including "a graphical user interface, hundreds of utilities, and additional applications and functions that are required to make it run: control panels, extensions, libraries, and programming kits..."

"The article, which appears to no longer be available online, seems to offer the viewpoint that, because there was no central authority governing the development of the UNIX world, the improvements made to UNIX systems since the 1970s do not get counted as part of UNIX. Even such core features as the graphics interface options and network functions that let users "copy files and send them on a network" (TCP/IP? The r* utilities?) are not UNIX according to Every. One can only guess that the world's most popular Web server and the world's most popular email server (which comes standard on most UNIX distributions) also disappear from consideration. Many may agree with his argument that Sun Solaris is not really UNIX, but the implication that the BSD variants aren't UNIX and, in fact, that UNIX System V isn't UNIX, makes it difficult to determine what he really thinks UNIX is."

"Of course, like most arguments, this one comes down to semantics. Unfortunately, Every chooses an obscure definition of UNIX and an even more non-standard definition of an operating system. "An operating system," he writes, "is the software that comes with a computer (or OS distribution) that programmers and users need to make themselves productive." His definition seems to include almost anything -- not just a Web browser, but word processor, spreadsheet, and screen capture utility. (One wonders if he thinks that Mac OS is not an operating system, since so many Mac users "make themselves productive" with Internet Explorer and Word for Macintosh.) Most of the features he claims are necessary for a real operating system are, in fact, available for every UNIX version. The fact that they may have come from different sources does not mean they are not part of a coherent and cohesive system."

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