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ok, so what is the big difference between unix and linux? other than the linux is free part.
i'm about to take a course in unix in college, and i'd like to know what i'm getting into. is the folder setup the same way? is the kernel the same? what are the biggest differences that come to mind??
UNIX is the general name for a loosely related confederation of operating systems written between the 1970s and the early 1990s. One example of a UNIX operating system is Minix, from whence Linus derived Linux. Linux is like UNIX only because it defines the same API that UNIX does, which facilitated the porting of dozens of software libraries and applications.
If you know your way around Linux, the same can be said of most UNIX variants, and vice versa.
Actually "Linux" is only one particular (even if widely used) kernel family.
A complete system, which is what you mean by UNIX, should be referred to as GNU/Linux. There are even free (speech) unix-like os not based on linux, like FreeBSD and OpenBSD. (http://www.freebsd.org/)
Don't forget GNU/DOS and GNU/Windows. Actually, the BSDs often have GNU utilities on them so they're GNU/FreeBSD and GNU/OpenBSD and GNU/NetBSD as well. Incidentally, why is it GNU/Hurd if the Hurd is GNU, too? Isn't that redundant? I guess so it won't be confused with GNU/Foo.
There are free non-Unix OSes, too. FreeDOS, ReactOS, and a zillion others. Er, GNU/FreeDOS and GNU/ReactOS and a GNU/zillion GNU/others.
Y'know, all through the 80s there were GNU utilities but the things didn't *run* except as UNIX. But I don't recall any GNU/UNIX movement because, after all, GNU's Not Unix. But if GNU's Not Linux, either, then it should be called Linux, as that's the only way it *runs*, *until* the Hurd and then it should be called GNU/Hurd because it *is* Hurd. Or Hurd is GNU. Or so I've hurd.
Anyway - with dosemu I suppose I run a GNU/Linux/FreeDOS/RIT/Symantec system. Or, well, since GNU comes before Linux, to carry out the logic, I run a Symantec/RIT/FreeDOS/GNU/Linux system.