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Me and a friend had a discussion about Linux and Unix today and my friend kept saying that the first version of the Linux kernel was based on [parts] of the Unix kernel.

This really surprised me because I always thought that the architecture of Linux is just similar to Unix — since the very first version. So, is it really true that the first Linux version was based on parts of Unix?

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A little known fact is that Linux was a release of Emacs that became sentient while running on Minix... – Bart Silverstrim Jan 24 '12 at 14:54
Are you talking about 1) using the source code, 2) about interfaces, services and principal design, or 3) the system where the code was bootstrapped? – user unknown Jan 24 '12 at 15:53
I'm talking about 1). – js-coder Jan 24 '12 at 16:50
Was your friend named "Darl McBride" ? – Shadur Jan 25 '12 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Even if Linux was a system written from scratch, first version of Linux was very minix-lookalike, which is a "mini-Unix". It's in Linus' announcement.

Wikipedia provides a short description of Linux history. If you want to know more about this subjet, this book is what you need. You'll learn there than Linus Torvalds used Unix man pages in order to know what system calls he has to implement and how they had to work.

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The first Linux kernels had to be bootstrapped with MINIX, which was developed with a UNIX-like design in mind. Now, Linus used books on UNIX when he was designing his kernel. The date of his book order is even archived.

To this date, Linux is not fully UNIX compatible, therefore, it's designated as "UNIX-Like" (Mac OS X, on the other hand, is a (full) UNIX).

The title of your question states simply "Linux" which implies not only the kernel, but other parts of it as well. I'd argue, that when you take into account things outside the kernel to compare it with UNIX, it is even more alike. Given things like X, etc. The Linux kernel alone comes pretty close to UNIX, but when you take into account the GNU parts, it gets even closer.

The 0.01 version of the kernel, can be still downloaded. Although, I haven't tested whether it compiles, let alone runs.

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What do you base the assertion on that OSX is "fully unix compatible"? – psusi Jan 24 '12 at 23:55
@psusi <--- it's listed as registered UNIX under "UNIX 03". Lion isn't on that list, but afaiac it is: (1st page, left column under "Open source UNIX foundation" – polemon Jan 25 '12 at 2:59
That is basically a list of companies who have paid the open group to put their name there. It does not mean that Linux is not just as unix compatible; just that nobody has paid the open group to say it is. – psusi Jan 25 '12 at 14:54
@psusi You only get on that list, when you run a test-suite on your OS. If you pass those tests, you get one one of several lists, depending whether it's fully compatible, or just to some extend. Here's the guideline for UNIX 03: The test requirements are linked in there somewhere... – polemon Jan 25 '12 at 15:01

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