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Unix is a family of related or similar multi-tasking operating systems originally developed by Bell Labs in the late 1960s and 1970s for mini-computers, such as the PDP-11. Unix was developed by C programmers, probably because C was also developed by Bell Labs. "Unix has never really made any inroads on the desktop."

Over time improvements to Unix were developed by others under license from AT&T. They used the AT&T source code but generally did not use its Unix trademark. Important examples from the 1980s include BSD, SunOS and Xenix.

In the 1990s AT&T sold Unix to Novell. Novell transferred the trademark to X/Open in 1994[1], which in turn licensed it for use on any operating system which met the Single Unix Specification[2], separating the name "Unix" from the original Unix source code. X/Open is now part of The Open Group, having merged with The Open Software Foundation.

Novell later sold its business of licensing and supporting System V Unix (the direct descendant of the original AT&T Unix) to The Santa Cruz Operation, commonly called "SCO"; exactly which rights were sold, and whether the copyright itself was sold, is part of the dispute in the SCO v. Novell lawsuit. In 2000, Caldera Systems purchased the server software division of SCO, which then changed its name to Tarantella. In 2002, Caldera changed its name to The SCO Group.

In 2003, SCO filed lawsuits against IBM, Autozone and Daimler-Chrysler for using Linux, an open source clone of Unix developed for the PC by Linus Torvalds and others over USENET. Simultaneously, SCO declared it was entitled to a license fee of $699 for every copy of Linux in use anywhere. Novell in turn sued SCO for slander of title and ordered SCO to drop the suits. All of these court actions are still moving through the federal legal system in Utah. If SCO wins, millions of Linux users will be liable for licensing fees, potentially bankrupting all but the wealthiest users.

Today, the main AT&T branch of Unix is nearly irrelevant, having been eclipsed by the Unix-like Linux operating system and the various BSD derivatives. Sun's OpenSolaris and HP's HP-UX, and Mac OS are the only offshoots of SVR4 still in development and widespread use.

Prescient Quotes on Unix-Linux-Ubuntu-FreeBSD Surveillance

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External Links


  1. http://www.unix.org/questions_answers.html#
  2. http://www.unix.org/questions_answers.html#7
  3. "Help make mass surveillance of entire populations uneconomical! We all have an unalienable right to privacy, which you can exercise today by encrypting your communications and ending your reliance on proprietary products and services."
  4. "Help make mass surveillance of entire populations uneconomical. We all have a right to privacy, which you can exercise today by encrypting your communications and ending your reliance on proprietary services."
  5. "Organization formed in 1990 to maintain and enhance intellectual freedom, privacy, and other values of civil liberties and democracy in networked communications. Publishes newsletters, Internet Guidebooks and other documents, provides mailing lists and other online forums, and hosts a large electronic document archive. Contact: info@eff.org. 454 Shotwell Street, San Francisco, CA 94110-1914. Tel: (415) 436-9333. Fax: (415) 436-9993. Executive Director: Sheryl Steele."
  6. "EPIC was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging privacy issues relating to the National Information Infrastructure, such as the Clipper Chip, the Digital Telephony proposal, medical records privacy and the sale of consumer data. EPIC conducts litigation, sponsors conferences, produces reports, publishes the EPIC Alert and leads campaigns on privacy issues. For more information email: epic-info@epic.org, or contact EPIC, 1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: (202) 483-1140. Executive Director: Marc Rotenberg."
  7. "CAUCE is an all volunteer, entirely web-based organization, created by Netizens to advocate for a legislative solution to the problem of UCE (spam). CAUCE began as a discussion group called SPAM-LAW, formed of members who felt that legislation was necessary to stop spam from choking the life out of the Internet. In 1997 CAUCE proposed an amendment to the Federal statute which outlaws junk "faxes" (47 USC 227) to also prohibit junk e-mail, and since then has remained a pre-eminent voice in the anti-spam community. Email: comments@cauce.org. President: Edward Cherlin."

External Links