Unix wars

From Academic Kids

The Unix wars were the struggles between vendors of the Unix computer operating system in the late 1980s and early 1990s to set the standard for Unix henceforth. These battles are commonly held to have harmed the market acceptance of Unix and created a market gap that allowed the rise of Windows NT.

In the mid-1980s, the two common versions of Unix were BSD, from the University of California at Berkeley, and System V, from AT&T. Both were derived from the earlier Version 7 Unix, but had diverged considerably. (This conflict was also known as the "UNIX wars" to some degree.) Further, each vendor's version of Unix was different to a greater or lesser degree.

A group of vendors formed the X/Open standards group in 1984, with the aim of forming compatible open systems. They chose to base their system on Unix.

X/Open caught AT&T's attention. To increase the uniformity of Unix, AT&T and leading BSD Unix vendor Sun Microsystems started work in 1987 on a unified system. This was eventually released as System V Release 4 (SVR4).

While this decision was applauded by customers and the trade press, other Unix licensees feared Sun would be unduly advantaged. They formed the Open Software Foundation (OSF), who released OSF/1, more closely based on BSD. AT&T and another group of licensees then formed UNIX International.

Technical issues soon took a back seat to vicious and public commercial competition between the two competing "open" versions of Unix, with X/Open holding the middle ground.

In 1993, AT&T sold Unix to Novell, who assigned trademark rights to X/Open. In 1996, X/Open and the OSF merged to form the Open Group, whose Single UNIX Specification is now the single standard for proprietary Unix. However, the damage to Unix's market share had been done.

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