The Narrowing Gap Between Linux and UNIX


Surprisingly, in this day and age, there are still people in the IT sector that hold enterprise Linux up to a software standard that is over four decades old: UNIX.

On the one hand, this seems kind of weird in a world where devices that are more than a few years old are treated as disposable and anything on the Internet more than 18 months old is ancient.

On the other hand, UNIX is a pretty good platform and it isn’t standing still. Talented engineers at Oracle, IBM and HP are still working to build innovation into their flavors of UNIX, with some good results. UNIX is still relevant the same way most jet airliners are pushing 30 and are still safe: they are constantly being maintained and updated.

Put in that context, it’s not hard to see why enterprise Linux is still held to the UNIX standard. It’s more than just UNIX was first—it’s also because UNIX is still a solid platform.

Forrester analyst Richard Fichera has a pretty high opinion of UNIX and its place in the enterprise, so it was a pleasant discovery when his latest blog post on the maturation of Linux compared to UNIX came out—and used SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.3 as a baseline.

Fichera really liked what he saw when checking out the features of SUSE Linux, including virtualization, scalability, high availability and IBM Power support.

“In summary, modern Linux is looking an awful lot like UNIX, and the latest round of capabilities gives it many of the high-end features that have distinguished enterprise-grade UNIX variants such as Solaris and AIX as little as three years ago,” Fichera wrote. “While both Oracle and IBM have continued to invest, and have added further features to their UNIXs that offer differentiation from Linux, the difference is shrinking, and the number of workloads that cannot be effectively served by Linux on x86 systems continues to shrink.”

This is one more voice adding to what SUSE has been saying for quite a while: UNIX is good, but there is very little UNIX can do on expensive hardware that Linux can’t do on less-expensive commodity machines.

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