Despite being as old as man landing on the moon, the UNIX operating system is still as relevant today as it was in 1969. UNIX is older than the PC, microprocessor and video display at 43. In fact, few software technologies since have since proved more durable or adaptable than the UNIX operating system.
The operating system’s durability lies its stability – this is why the UNIX programming standard is crucially important. Since 1995, any operating system wishing to use the UNIX trademark has to conform to the Single UNIX Specification, a standard of The Open Group. In this blog we identify some of the reasons why this standard is still relevant today.
One of the key reasons is that the UNIX standard programming interfaces are an integral and scalable foundation for today’s infrastructure from embedded systems, mobile devices, internet routers, servers and workstations, all the way up to distributed supercomputers.
The standard provides portability across related operating systems such as Linux and the BSD systems and many parts of the standard are present in embedded and server systems from HP, Oracle, IBM, Fujitsu, Silicon Graphics and SCO Group as well as desktop systems from Apple.
The Single UNIX Specification provides a level of openness which those without the standard cannot, ensuring compatibility across all these platforms. Because the standard establishes a baseline of core functionality above which suppliers can innovate, applications written to the standard can be easily moved across a wide range of platforms.
It enables suppliers to focus on offering added value and guarantee the underlying durability of their products with the core interfaces standardised. UNIX interfaces have found use on more machines than any other operating system of its kind, demonstrating why having a single, maintained standard is incredibly important. The UNIX standard enables customers to buy with increased confidence, backed with certification.
I work closely with the community to further the development of standards conformant systems by evolving and maintaining the value of the UNIX standard. This includes making the standard freely available on the web, permitting reuse of the standard documentation in open source projects, providing test tools, and developing the POSIX and UNIX certification programmes.
The open source movement has brought new vitality to UNIX and its user community is larger than ever including commercial vendors, operating system developers and an entirely new generation of programmers. Forty years after it was first created, UNIX is still here, long after Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong hung up their moon boots. With the right standards in place to protect it, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue to grow in the future.