What is UNIX?


This is a “no-nonsense” tutorial, aimed at getting people with little or no previous UNIX® experience to the stage where they can use the operating system for basic tasks. From that point, there are other resources on this web site that will help you to develop your knowledge further.

In this tutorial, unlike some others, we don’t dwell of the theory and philosophy behind every feature – we just want to get you up and running as quickly as possible.

You may follow this tutorial in sequence – each page has a link at the bottom pointing to the next page in the logical sequence. You may also select pages from the Table Of Contents. When you wish to suspend the tutorial, please bookmark it using your browser, so you may return to the same point another day.

What is UNIX?

We’ll keep this short, as it is really background information. You can click on any of the links to explain terms you don’t understand. If you skip this section, you’ll still be able to follow the rest of the tutorial without any problems.

UNIX is an Operating System. It differs from other operating systems in several ways:

  • It is multi-user.
  • It is multi-tasking.
  • It has been around for a long time, so is widely used and ‘mature’.
  • Because of the previous point, it is very stable. A UNIX operating system very rarely crashes.
  • UNIX is like a ‘tool kit’. It contains many small programs and tools, that can be used together to solve complex problems.
  • Like all tool kits, it takes a little while to learn how to use each tool effectively. This tutorial will help you to take the first steps, then other areas of the web site will help you to expand your knowledge as and when you need to.
  • If you’re completely new to UNIX, the first thing you’ll need to do is learn how to log in and log out. Even if you already know how to do this, you may benefit from reading those sections before proceeding.

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