How The Faces Of Unix Keep Changing

The major remaining flavors of Unix, and where their development stands right now.

January 23, 2006

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo


IBM is at work on AIX version 5.4, due sometime next year. While Unix generally is good at balancing workloads across multi-CPU servers and server clusters, AIX 5.4 will take that a step further by balancing processing workloads across virtual machines.

The release will include workload-management technology that came with IBM's 2005 acquisition of Meiosys Inc. and high-availability and security improvements. Customers are expected to have access to some new features this spring at IBM's new AIX Collaboration Center in Austin, Texas. "We want to pull ISVs and selected customers inside the tent, into the development process," says IBM VP Karl Freund. So will IBM create an open-source version of AIX along the lines of what Sun Microsystems has done with Solaris? Don't count on it.


Hewlett-Packard updates HP-UX every two or three years, and the next release, HP-UX 11i version 3, is scheduled for the end of this year. Like IBM, HP is emphasizing improved security and high availability. HP-UX 11i v3 will offer extended virtual-view and partition-management capabilities and improved support for storage area networks.HP also is migrating third-party applications that ran on VMS and Tru64 Unix--platforms it acquired in its merger with Compaq--to its HP-UX-on-Itanium Integrity servers. But users of those systems have dragged their feet on converting to HP-UX; about 20% of them have moved to Linux.

New capabilities are added incrementally, too. HP just added identity management to HP-UX for user authentication.


Sun Microsystems will make additions to Solaris 10 as part of work on the 7-month-old OpenSolaris project as well as through internal development. Already, 71 proposed additions have been generated via the OpenSolaris initiative. They include a wireless driver for x86 platforms. "We'll use the same rigorous test process as always" with the open-source additions, says executive VP John Loiacono.

Sun developers also are working on ZFS, a 128-bit file system with increased error-detection and correction capabilities for the next Solaris 10 release, due within six months. A self-correcting file system simplifies management of large storage systems. In addition, Solaris' ability to host virtual machines will be enhanced to include Red Hat Linux VMs under Solaris 10.OpenServer

SCO Group offers three product lines: OpenServer, used mainly for branch automation, UnixWare for telephony services, and Me Inc., a network-services-based platform. |With Me Inc., mobile phones or other mobile devices are used as a remote control to a Me server. Customers subscribe to services that run on the server. Me services include System and Network Monitoring, Business Heartbeat, and a multimedia messaging utility called Shout.

With System and Network Monitoring, alarms are created for various systems at the customer site. The Business Heartbeat service lets users track things like inventory and IT assets. Shout lets people send multimedia messages to the mobile devices of a predefined group of users. It can be used for opinion polling.


At the center of Apple Computer's OS X is a BSD Unix kernel and other BSD components, together called Darwin. Additional open-source components sit on top of Darwin, as well as applications written by Apple. Any changes Apple makes become available to the open-source community, and many find their way to FreeBSD.When it comes to Unix on the laptop, Apple is ahead of the game. For years, it has had OS X running on its PowerBooks. Apple's unified operating-system strategy means OS X on a small desktop is the same as on a G5 server. New releases extend across Apple's product line. The company likes to take advantage of existing components with open-source licenses. For example, rather than write a Web server from scratch, Apple has innovated on top of Apache.

Return to the story:
What's Left Of Unix?

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights