Software & Apps Linux Is the Unix Operating System for You? Share Pin Email Print Conrhyss / wikimedia commons Linux Switching from Windows By Juergen Haas Writer Former Lifewire writer Juergen Haas is a software developer, data scientist, and a fan of the Linux operating system. our editorial process Juergen Haas Updated February 03, 2020 69 69 people found this article helpful An operating system serves as the software layer between your device's hardware and the programs that you run. The three most common desktop-class operating systems for the retail market are Windows, macOS, and Linux. There's really no such thing as "Unix" as a specific operating system. Rather, Unix refers to a family of operating systems, the most common of which include macOS, Android, and Linux. Windows is not a Unix variant. Unix vs. Windows: A Competitive History and Future Wikimedia Commons The Unix computer operating system has been in use for more than three decades. Originally it rose from the ashes of a failed attempt in the early 1960s to develop a reliable timesharing operating system. A few survivors from Bell Labs did not give up and developed a system that provided a work environment described as "of unusual simplicity, power, and elegance." Since the 1980's Unix's main competitor, Windows, has gained popularity due to the steadily increasing power of micro-computers with Intel-compatible processors, which is the platform that Windows was designed for. In recent years, however, a new version of Unix called Linux, also specifically developed for micro-computers, has emerged. It can be obtained for free and is, therefore, a good choice for people and businesses on a budget. On the server front, Unix has been closing in on Microsoft’s market share. In 1999, Linux scooted past Novell's Netware to become the No. 2 server operating system behind Windows NT. In 2001 the market share for the Linux operating system was 25 percent; other Unix flavors 12 percent. On the client front, Microsoft is currently dominating the operating system market with over 90 percent market share. Advantages of Unix Unix-based operating systems were developed to be robust, multi-user environments optimized for both desktop and server use. The philosophy of modern Linux distributions favors open-source solutions and free software. Fed Up With Windows 10? Here are 12 Reasons Linux Might Be Better The 10 Best Linux Desktop Environments Disadvantages of Unix Compared to Windows, learning Linux can be a bit more challenging. Although contemporary Linux distributions are generally well-polished, much software for the home market, including a lot of games, are still written for the Windows platform. Most home computers ship with Windows 10. Microsoft Office runs best on Windows, as do many bleeding-edge games. Because some aspects of LInux benefit from the use of a shell prompt, people unfamiliar with text-based OS management might be a bit lost.