Unix Standards

A number of different versions of Unix have been released commercially.  We  will  discuss several of  these  that  can  be implemented  on personal computers here. As a rule a Unix  system includes the following:

  • Unix kernel
  • Unix shell
  • Utilities
  • C compiler & Debugger
  • Snobel interpreter
  • Available support for other languages such as Basic, Cobol & Pascal.



PC-IX is an enhanced version of Unix system III created by Interactive Systems Corporation of Santa Monica, California.  PC IX  is  designed  for use on the PC XT. The total PC IX system includes about 4.5 MB of system software.  System  features include:

  • Unix shell
  • Over   200  utilities  including   text   processing, programming aids, source code system, and games.
  • Bourne shell
  • C compiler & Debugger
  • Assembler
  • Several Berkeley utilities
  • Enhanced printer control program (which replaces  the  system III spooler)
  • PC – DOS interface.



Venix is a product of VenturCom. Venix, an enhanced version of the Unix System III, is available for the IBM PC XT as well as large   computers.   Venix   is  widely   used   for   laboratory applications.



Uniplus+ is a product of Unisoft Systems.  Uniplus+  is available for 68000 based computers such as the Macintosh XL  NCR Tower,  and Sun Workstation. Uniplus+ is an enchanced version  of Unix  System  III.  these  enhancements  include  both   Berkeley enhancements as well as some developed by Unisoft.



PC-IX, Venix, and Uniplus+ are all of Unix.  A  number  of operating  systems are available that function like Unix but  are    not   actual versions of the Bell Labs System. IDRIS, a product of Whitesmiths Ltd., is probably the most widely used Unix look alike.  It can be run on an 8080 based system with  bank  switch memory.  IDRIS is also one of the most portable, running on  over 30 different computers.



Coherent is a Unix look alike from the Make Williams Company. Coherent is available for the IBM PC as well as  systems running on Z8000 and PDP-II. Coherent is a very complete system;  it includes nearly as many utilities as Unix.



XENIX is an enhanced version of Unix System III, includes a number of Berkeley utilities such as:

  • ex or ed or vi editors.
  • csh command interpreter.
  • style text analysis program.
  • uucp and micnet networking utilities.

Microsoft Corporation developed XENIX.   Micro generally does not sell XENIX directly to end-users but instead licenses the system to other firms that customize it for individual hardware products. An exception is the version of XENIX for the PC AT which was ported by Microsoft.


One widely used XENIX port is Santa Cruz Organization’s (SCO) XENIX for the IBM PC XT and compatibles.  SCO XENIX is marketed as three separate sections.

  • XENIX text processing system
  • XENIX software development system

The XENIX OS consists of the Unix kernel, the C (Command) shell, and about 150 utilities including the ex/ed/vi editors.


The XENIX text processing system includes most of the features of the Unix text processing system. The text processing system contains over 20 utility programs including:

  • nroff for document formatting.
  • troff  for  outputting  formatted  documents   to   a  phototypesetter.
  • tbl for formatting tables.
  • style for analysis of writing style.
  • diction for spotting cumbersome parsing.

Unlike PC IX, XENIX is a bonafide multi user operating system.  SCO’s implementation of XENIX for the PC XT allows two additional terminals to be added.


As is the case with other Unix systems, XENIX features multitasking, the ability to run more than one program at a time. XENIX also offers a convenient feature known as virtual consoles. With this feature, the user can alter the keyboard and screen from one program to another by pressing one key.  This allows the user to work with several programs at once.


XENIX allows for networking via the uucp and Micnet utilities.  These generally transfer information using serial connections and the phone lines or cabling. uucp is designed  for use with remote systems. uucp looks up the remote system’s phone numbers, call them, logs on, relays the information, and logs off – all automatically. Micnet allows you to connect a small network of local PCs by cable. This generally used in an office setting. The process is simple; the serial ports on the  PCs  on  the network are connected via cable. Micnet is also somewhat easier to use than uucp, as many of security problems of a telephone access network is sidestepped.


Due to disk space limitations a number of Unix features are missing from XENIX. The UNIX games have been omitted as well as the learn utility, an on-line tutorial. Also the on-line manuals were not included.


Even so, XENIX is probably the most complete version of Unix available at the time of this writing for personal computers. Also, XENIX is the most widely used version of Unix on Personal computers.  An estimated 70% of the installed base of PCs running on Unix in fact runs on XENIX.



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