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Linux Advantages Low cost: You dont need to spend time and money to obtain licenses since Linux and much of its software come with the GNU General Public License. You can start to work immediately without worrying that your software may stop working anytime because the free trial version expires. Additionally, there are large repositories from which you can freely download high quality software for almost any task you can think of. 2. Stability: Linux doesnt need to be rebooted periodically to maintain performance levels. It doesnt freeze up or slow down over time due to memory leaks and such. Continuous up-times of hundreds of days (up to a year or more) are not uncommon. 3. Performance: Linux provides persistent high performance on workstations and on networks. It can handle unusually large numbers of users simultaneously, and can make old computers sufficiently responsive to be useful again. 4. Network friendliness: Linux was developed by a group of programmers over the Internet and has therefore strong support for network functionality; client and server systems can be easily set up on any computer running Linux. It can perform tasks such as network backups faster and more reliably than alternative systems. 5. Flexibility: Linux can be used for high performance server applications, desktop applications, and embedded systems. You can save disk space by only installing the components needed for a particular use. You can restrict the use of specific computers by installing for example only selected office applications instead of the whole suite. 6. Compatibility: It runs all common Unix software packages and can process all common file formats. 7. Choice: The large number of Linux distributions gives you a choice. Each distribution is developed and supported by a different organization. You can pick the one you like best; the core functionalities are the same; most software runs on most distributions. 8. Fast and easy installation: Most Linux distributions come with user-friendly installation and setup programs. Popular Linux distributions come with tools that make installation of additional software very user friendly as well. 9. Full use of hard disk: Linux continues work well even when the hard disk is almost full. 10. Multitasking: Linux is designed to do many things at the same time; e.g., a large printing job in the background wont slow down your other work. 11. Security: Linux is one of the most secure operating systems. Walls and flexible file access permission systems prevent access by unwanted visitors or viruses. Linux users have to option to select and safely download software, free of charge, from online repositories containing thousands of high quality packages. No purchase transactions requiring credit card numbers or other sensitive personal information are necessary. 12. Open Source: If you develop software that requires knowledge or modification of the operating system code, Linuxs source code is at your fingertips. Most Linux applications are Open Source as well. 1. Today the combination of inexpensive computers and free high-quality Linux operating systems and software provide incredibly low-cost solutions for both basic home office use and high-performance business and science applications. The available choices of Linux distributions and Linux software may be over whelming at first, but if you know where to look, it shouldnt take long for you to find good online guidance. >>Next: How to Choose a Linux Distribution

Linux is capable of acting as client and/or server to any of the popular operating systems in use today, and is quite capable of being used to run Internet Service Providers

With support for Simple Network Management Protocol and other services (such as Domain Name Service), Linux is also well suited to serving large networks.

The difference in stability of Unix/Linux and Windows servers is up to debate, but chances are if you used a Linux operating system on your personal computer, you will find that the OS is very stable when compared to most versions of windows. The main differences in functionality is that Unix/Linux is best for perl/cgi scripting while Windows is best when it comes to ASP. If ASP is a necessity for you, you would not want to use Unix/Linux based web hosting.

Unix is widely used in internet servers and workstations where as Linux widely used on personal computers

Linux Operating system is based on the kernel of Unix operating system

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Major Linux Vs UNIX Kernel Differences


UNIX has been regarded as the mother of most of the operating systems. Some of the popular members of this family Include :

System V Release 4(SVR4) developed by AT&T. 4.4 BSD From university of California AIX from IBM. HP-UX from Hewlett-Packard. Solaris from Sun Microsystems.

Linux is relatively a new member of this family. Linux was initially written by Linus Torvalds in 1991 for IBM compatible personal computers. As an OS, GNU Linux has experienced huge success and popularity in last 20 years with most of the commercial servers now using GNU Linux. To add to the popularity, end users have also started using Linux these days with most of the popular Laptop and PC manufactures giving GNU Linux as a per-installed OS. For those who are still confused between Linux being an OS or kernel, Linux in true sense as written by Linus was a kernel that was written by referring to book on Unix internals (Though the Linux kernel has adopted good features from many other Unix like kernels too) while the commercially available distributions that contain utilities like graphical desktop, text editors, compilers etc on top of the Linux kernel are complete operating systems.

Though Linux Kernel borrows most of its features from Unix/Unix-Like kernels but still there are many points where the two type of kernels differ significantly. In this article, the main focus will be on these differences. The list is not exhaustive but contains the main differences.

1. Monolithic Vs Micro-kernel Approach

Monolithic kernels are those where all the kernel code runs as a single process while Micro-kernel kernels are those where the core of a kernel (that controls the different pieces of OS) runs in one process while other services like device drivers etc run as different processes. Linux follows monolithic approach while there are a couple of exceptions in Unix-Like kernels that follow Microkernel approach.

2. Adding/Removing features to kernel

While traditional Unix/Unix-like systems require static linking of new modules being added, Linux supports a powerful feature where-in kernel components like device drivers etc can be loaded and unloaded dynamically. This feature is known as Loadable kernel modules (LKM). Any new component can be added/removed as an LKM to the kernel. This means there is no need to compile

the whole kernel again. Also, if a component is not needed, it can easily be unloaded. This feature makes Linux kernel very flexible.

3. Kernel Threading
Many Unix-Like kernels are organized as a set of kernel threads. A kernel thread can be thought of as an independent execution flow. A kernel thread can run user process or some kernel code. The basic Idea is to do context switches between the kernel threads which is less expensive than context switches between processes as threads operate in same address space. While many Unix-Like OS use kernel threads for process context switching, Linux uses kernel threads only for executing some kernel code periodically.

4. Multi-threaded application support

Almost all modern OS, be it Unix-Like or Linux distributions, support multi-threading. A multithreaded application is one which creates more than one execution flows. These independent execution flows are known as threads. Threads are light weight processes. In most of the Unix-Like systems, light weight processes are based on kernel threads while in Linux these LWP are created by a call to function clone() which lets the application to create a separate process like fork() does but the difference being that with clone() the newly generated process can share its physical memory, opened files, address space etc. As these newly created process works in a shared environment, so they are given a different name threads. So we see that Linux and Unix/Unix-Like differ in the way multi-threaded environment is handled internally.

Streams I/O subsystem is included in most of the Unix kernels and has become a preferred interface for writing device drivers, terminal drivers etc. While on the other hand there is nothing like Streams in Linux.

6. Preemptive Vs Non-Preemptive Kernels

Preemptive kernels are the kernels which can preempt the currently executing process. It means that a process which is currently executing can be forcibly interrupted if a process with higher priority is ready for execution. On the other hand, Non preemptive kernels are those where a running process cannot be forcibly interrupted even if a higher priority process is ready for execution.

Normally, Linux OS are Non preemptive while some of the Unix systems like Solaris 2.x etc are fully preemptive. Usually Real time OS have fully preemptive kernels. These days we have Linux Real time OS which have fully preemptive kernels.

So we see that though Linux was born out of the basic idea from Unix but still it differs from Unix/Unix-Like kernels in many ways. Despite of these differences Linux still inherits a lot from Unix and is still considered as a member of Unix family of kernels.

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{ 13 comments read them below or add one }


hajigholamali January 9, 2012 at 4:14 am



Attouchi January 9, 2012 at 4:41 am

Another clear distinction in kernels of Linux and UNIX: The kernel API. UNIX API is BSD, while Linux API is POSIX. Yes, BSD and POSIX share many functions, but not all. And even shared functions may differ in behavior and supported actions.
3Himanshu January 9, 2012 at 5:35 am

@Koutheir Attouchi

Thanks for the information.


kumar January 9, 2012 at 6:05 am

nice info .

Emin January 9, 2012 at 6:50 am

Nowadays, in distributions, linux kerne is by default in a Voluntary Preemptive state. I belive there is an exception in Linux Arch were kernel is Preemptive.

6Spliff January 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

Good article,

Thanks ;D

Mayer January 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

Unfortunately, I have to say this is the most misleading and uninformed article of thegeekstuff that I have seen to date.

1. Monolithic Vs Micro-kernel Approach What you are writing is true, but it is misleading. Why? You say while there are a couple of exceptions in Unix-Like kernels that follow Micro-kernel approach, but you dont give any examples of micro-kernel OSes (NeXTStep and Mac OS X would be such OSes, btw.). The OSes you mention (from Sys V to Solaris) all take the same Linux does: a monolithic kernel, so its hardly a distinctive feature of Linux.

2. Adding/Removing features to kernel

Again, what you are writing is true, but misleading. Yes, in the olden days one would have to re-link the kernel to add a new driver to it and reboot (even SunOS 4 still required this). However, most Unix-like OSes you mention have loadable kernel modules. Its the standard nowadays and not something that is specific to Linux. It differentiates modern Unix-like OSes from their roots 30-40 years ago, but is not something thats in any way specific to Linux.

Sections 3-5, I agree with. Now for the last point and the worst disinformation.

6. Preemptive Vs Non-Preemptive Kernels What you write here is simply outright wrong. Thats all theres to it. Normally, Linux OS are Non preemptive while some of the Unix systems like Solaris 2.x etc are fully preemptive. This is simply untrue (well, the Linux portion of the sentence is). I invite you to look through

the kernel sources, specifically http://lxr.linux.no/linux/kernel/sched.c. Youll find scheduling routines to interrupt processes and take the CPU away from them. It would look like you are mixing up two things here: real time scheduling and preemptive scheduling. Those two are not anywhere near the same. The only two OSes I know that used non-preemptive (i.e. co-operative) scheduling were Mac OS up to version 9 and Windows prior to NT. I dont recall if the Windows 95 family had some preemptive capabilities or not, 3.1 definitely did not. No modern OS still uses non-preemptive scheduling!

Yes, Linux is not a real-time OS by default. But no, the Linux kernel does not employ cooperative scheduling. Otherwise, say, a hung Apache process could hog the an entire webserver and bring it down, right? Nobody would want to run their corporate web-sites or databases off a Linux machine, but they clearly do, as you say yourself.