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A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix)
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
is one that behaves in a manner similar to a
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the
Single UNIX Specification The Single UNIX Specification (SUS) is the collective name of a family of standards for computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can ...
. A Unix-like
application Application may refer to: Mathematics and computing * Application software, computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks ** Application layer, an abstraction layer that specifies protocols and interface methods used in a co ...
is one that behaves like the corresponding
Unix command This is a list of Unix commands as specified by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Std 1003.1-2008, which is part of the Single UNIX Specification (SUS). These commands can be found on Unix operating systems and most Unix-like ...
or
shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure)A shell is a type of structural element which is characterized by its geometry, being a three-dimensional solid whose thickness is very small when compared with other dimensions, and ...
. There is no
standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit of ...
for defining the term, and some difference of opinion is possible as to the degree to which a given operating system or application is "Unix-like". The term can include
free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly sh ...
operating systems inspired by
Bell Labs Nokia Bell Labs (formerly named Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) and Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984)) is an American industrial research and scientific development company A company, abbrev ...
' Unix or designed to emulate its features, commercial and proprietary work-alikes, and even versions based on the
licensed A license (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English ...
UNIX source code (which may be sufficiently "Unix-like" to pass certification and bear the "UNIX" trademark).


Definition

The Open Group The Open Group is a global consortium that seeks to "enable the achievement of business objectives" by developing "Open-source model, open, vendor-neutral technology standards and certifications." It has over 840 member organizations and provides ...
owns the
UNIX Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

UNIX
trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual pr ...

trademark
and administers the Single UNIX Specification, with the "UNIX" name being used as a
certification mark A certification mark (or conformity mark) on a commercial product indicates the existence of an accepted product Standardization, standard or regulation and a claim that the manufacturer has verified compliance with those standards or regulatio ...
. They do not approve of the construction "Unix-like", and consider it a misuse of their trademark. Their guidelines require "UNIX" to be presented in uppercase or otherwise distinguished from the surrounding text, strongly encourage using it as a branding adjective for a generic word such as "system", and discourage its use in hyphenated phrases. Other parties frequently treat "Unix" as a
genericized trademark A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, because of its popularity or significance, has become the generic term for, or synonymous with, a general class of Good (economic ...
. Some add a
wildcard character In software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, physical hardware, from which the system is built and ...
to the name to make an abbreviation like "Un*x" or "*nix", since Unix-like systems often have Unix-like names such as
AIX AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive, pronounced , “ay-eye-ex”) is a series of Proprietary software, proprietary Unix operating systems developed and sold by IBM for several of its computer platforms. Originally released for the IBM RT P ...
,
A/UX A/UX is Apple Computer Apple Inc. is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries ...
,
HP-UX HP-UX (from "Hewlett Packard Unix") is Hewlett Packard Enterprise's proprietary software, proprietary implementation of the Unix operating system, based on Unix System V (initially Unix System III, System III) and first released in 1984. Rec ...
,
IRIX IRIX ( ) is a discontinued operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems like macOS ...
,
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product ...

Linux
,
Minix#REDIRECT Minix Minix (from "mini-Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of Computer multitasking, multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Corporation, AT&T Unix, whose development started i ...
,
Ultrix Ultrix (officially all-caps ULTRIX) is the brand name of Digital Equipment Corporation Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC ), using the trademark Digital, was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1960s to the 1990s. The compa ...
,
Xenix Xenix is a discontinued version of the Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data ...

Xenix
, and
XNU XNU is the computer operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems like macOS macOS (; ...
. These patterns do not literally match many system names, but are still generally recognized to refer to any UNIX system, descendant, or work-alike, even those with completely dissimilar names such as
Darwin Darwin most often refers to: * Charles Darwin (1809–1882), English naturalist and writer, best known as the originator of the theory of biological evolution by natural selection * Darwin, Northern Territory, a capital city in Australia * Darwin ( ...
/
macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later OS X) is a Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interface, graphical operating system developed and marketed by Apple Inc. since 2001. It is the primary operating system for ...
,
illumos Illumos (stylized as illumos) is a partly free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, copy, study, ...
/ Solaris or
FreeBSD FreeBSD is a free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any ...

FreeBSD
. In 2007, Wayne R. Gray sued to dispute the status of UNIX as a trademark, but lost his case, and lost again on appeal, with the court upholding the trademark and its ownership.


History

"Unix-like" systems started to appear in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many
proprietary {{Short pages monitor