the * is called a wildcard. wildcards are interpreted as different things by the shell. a few examples:
* an asterisk matches any number of characters, including none.
? the question mark matches any single character
 Brackets enclose a set of characters, one of which may match a single character at that position.
so *nix could match unix, linux, nix, thisisareallylongandstupidnamenix, etc.
and ?nix could match unix, onix, knix, but not linux
but as michaelk has said, it typically means both unix and linux.
hope this helps.
Last edited by lyceum; 05-17-2004 at 09:46 AM.