UNIX Flavors (Distributions)
Which operating system is best for web hosting?
It seemed a simple enough topic, or so this web hosting novice thought. So I went through countless of sites in search of the answer and came up with a list of Web Hosting Operating Systems to choose from. Whereupon I concluded that there really wasn’t a system that would prove ‘best’ for all. It was, for the most part, simply a matter of needs, and of course, of preference, both from the web host’s and the web master’s points of view.
That takes care of that! Right? Well, not quite. I realized, in the course of my research, that from this list, another ‘list’ begged to be made. A list, that seemed necessary if one were to make an informed choice when it comes to operating systems.
This list, of course, is that of the many Unix ‘flavors’ available in the market. Unless you’re an expert, or simply a fanatic, chances are the concept of Unix having ‘flavors’ came as a surprise. Who knew flavors could apply to things other than ice cream, or food for that matter?
So what exactly is a Unix flavor?
About.com defines it as an implementation of Unix, with each flavor, designed to work with different types of hardware, and having its own unique commands or features. The UGU site provides one of the more comprehensive lists of Unix flavors, but for those who don’t feel like going though all those links, below is an overview of the more popular ones.
Flavors that are available commercially (read: sold) include:
Solaris – Sun Microsystems’ implementation, of which there are different kinds available: these are Solaris OS for SPARC platforms, Solaris OS for x86 platforms, and Trusted Solaris for both SPARC & x86 platforms; the latest version is Solaris 10 OS
AIX – short for Advanced Interactive eXecutive; IBM’s implementation, the latest release of which, is the AIX 5L version 5.2.
SCO UnixWare and OpenServer – are implementations derived from the original AT&T Unix® source code acquired by the Santa Cruz Operation Inc. from Novell, and later on bought by Caldera Systems; the latest versions are UnixWare 7.1.3 and OpenServer 5.0.7
BSD/OS – the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix implementation from Wind River; its latest version is the BSD/OS 5.1 Internet Server Edition
IRIX – the proprietary version of Unix from Silicon Graphics Inc.; the latest release of which is IRIX 6.5
HP-UX – short for Hewlett-Packard UniX; the latest version is the HP-UX 11i
Tru64 UNIX – the Unix operating environment for HP AlphaServer systems; Tru64 UNIX v5.1B-1 is the latest version
Mac OS – Mac operating system from Apple Computer Inc. having a Unix core; the latest version is the Mac OS X Panther
Flavors that are available for free, include:
FreeBSD – derived from BSD, it is an advanced OS for x86 compatible AMD64, Alpha, IA-64, PC-98 and UltraSPARC® architectures; the latest versions are FreeBSD 5.2.1 (New Technology Release) and the FreeBSD 4.9 (Production Release)
NetBSD – Unix-like OS derived from BSD and developed by The NetBSD Project; it is shipped under a BSD license and the latest release is NetBSD 1.6.2
OpenBSD – multi-platform 4.4BSD-based Unix-like OS from The OpenBSD project; its latest release is OpenBSD 3.4
Linux — a Unix-type OS originally created by Linus Torvalds, the source code of which is available freely and open for development under GNU General Public License; there are numerous Linux distributions available
A more detailed discussion of these flavors will be provided in future postings, so do come back soon.
Free in this case means that the software is free (to use), but does not necessarily mean that users won’t shell out money to get their own copy(ies). Suppliers may charge a nominal fee for materials used to copy/distribute these (i.e. CDs) and for shipping (if applicable).
BSD license simply put means that users are allowed to develop products based on NetBSD without the changes having to be made public
Although Linux has traditionally been freely available, the ongoing case by SCO against IBM and the rest of the Linux community might change this. A more detailed posting will be made on this topic in the coming days.
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