ISSN 1654-9163 (print)   ISSN 2001-7235 (online)
The Abraham Zelmanov Journal
The journal for General Relativity, gravitation and cosmology



Unix-born operating systems

Unix generations

Below are listed only open source free operating systems (Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris), derived from Unix and developed under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) or the other license agreements which are similar to it. All the operating systems are absolutely free for copying, distribution and development. Software working under Linux and other Unix-like systems is completely included into the listed Linux/Unix distributions. Linux, BSD, and OpenSolaris use common software applications, generated from the same source codes.


Linux is a free open source operating system created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The hearth of the system is Linux Kernel, originally constructed by Torvalds, then surrounded by graphic shells such as KDE and GNOME (now with also novell 3D window managers Beryl and Compiz), and also many applications: office, programming, multimedia, etc. Despite a thousand individuals and many companies participate the project after 1991, Linux Kernel is Tux, the penguinmaintained by Torvalds till now. Commencing the last 1990's Linux project is sponsored by bulky corporations such as IBM, DELL, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, and others. Linux distribution, in contrast to other operating systems on sale without applications, provides as possible complete set of applications accessed to such a kind of operating system. This is why once installed on computer, Linux doesn't require additional software in most cases (despite any additional program or update can be installed). There are many distributions of Linux, generated from the source code by different teams of developers. The distrbutions differ by installation method and set of programs. We present only a few main Linux distributions most popular between corporate users and individuals. Tux, the penguin that above, is the officially logo of Linux, drawn by Larry Ewing (combined versions of this logo were drawn by Andreas Dilger).

  • Debian is the largest of Linux distributions started in 1993 by Ian Murdock. Debian distribution includes almost all (a few thousands) applications developed for Linux. Debian is available as stable, testing, and experimental versions. Debian stable is highly reliable: once set up on a computer it never require re-installation. This is why Debian is most popular among the internet servers.

  • Knoppix is a Debian based live Linux system on CD/DVD created and maintained by Klaus Knopper on the basis of Debian. Knoppix-Math is a related project (maintained in Japan) is contains much additional science software, and is oriented to scientists. Knoppix can work direct from CD/DVD or be installed on hard disk.

  • Ubuntu ("humanity to others", an ancient African word) is a Debian based project started by Mark Shuttleworth, and sponsored by his Canonical Ltd. Being a perfect configured system in one live CD or DVD alloved to install on hard disk, Ubuntu is fast-to-run. A large number of additional software can be downloaded from Ubuntu/Debian repository. Ubuntu Linux has 3 official modifications different by user interface: Ubuntu (GNOME), Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (Xfce) and Edubuntu (school-related project). CD versions of those can be ordered for free shipping from the Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Edubuntu web-sites.

  • Mandriva is formerly Mandrake Linux started by Gaël Duval. This is a French-made distribution of Linux. Mandriva Linux is most eqipped by fresh versions of hardvare drivers and multimedia software. Owing to the fact Mandriva is much popular among individuals. After the company-owner Mandriva Co. became bancrupted in 2011, this distribution of Linux is now continued by a truly free community. It has two distribution: Mageia, which is maintained, on volunteer basis, by the formerly employee of Madrake/Madriva, and openMadriva, which is mainained by OpenMandriva association.

  • OpenSUSE is a German-made distribution of Linux (now is sponsored by Novell, USA). High quality of the distribution and many features oriented to both everyday and professional use get SUSE Linux attractive to individuals.

  • Fedora is a follower of the famous RedHat Linux, sponsored by RedHat Inc. Being truly experimental system, Fedora joined most fresh versions of Linux software (a drawback is that the lack of support for multimedia).

  • Slackware is a "Linux consisting of bricks", created in 1993 and maintained till now by Patrick Volkerding. The main advantage of such a construction is that one can build Linux system by his own while installation, doing choose for its system components. The complicate installation process, oriented to experienced users (not recommended to beginners), pays for system configuration satisfying any of bizzare requirements.

  • Gentoo is an unique Linux distribution created by Daniel Robbins. Gentoo Linux consists of just source codes, which should be compiled to executable binary files while installation (the other versions of Linux present pre-compiled executables). Gentoo is good to experts (not recommended to beginners).

  • DSL, aka Damn Small Linux, is a 50MB mini Linux distribution (based on Debian), which can be run from a business card CD or be installed on hard disk. It is run light enough to power even a 486DX with 16MB RAM. Despite that, this is a fully functional system equipped by the lightweight versions of well-known applications

BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution)

Beastie, the daemonFreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD are advanced free open source operating systems derived from BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution aka Berkeley Unix), the version of Unix initially developed at the University of California, Berkeley. BSD operating systems are developed and maintained by large teams of individuals. FreeBSD has a few derivatives such as PC-BSD, DesktopBSD, and DragonFlyBSD, including live CD/DVD systems. The BSD Daemon, also called Beastie, is the officially logo of BSD. A most common is the above as drawn by John Lasseter.


BelenixOpenSolaris is an open source Unix based operating system, initially based on the source code of the Solaris Operating System of Sun Microsystems Inc. OpenSolaris is developed by a large team of individuals, and is distributed as a source code. OpenSolaris has a few ready-to-use distributions, produced on the base of the source code, such as NexentaOS, BeleniX, MilaX, Schillix, Indiana, and marTux, which include live CD/DVD systems. The logo that here is usual to BeleniX.

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The Abraham Zelmanov Journal is an annually issue scientific journal registered with the Royal National Library of Sweden.


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