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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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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