Can I install Unix on my PC? I mean not Linux, nor BSD.

Although the name of this forum is Unix and Linux, most of the users seem to be running some flavour of Linux.

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    What are you looking for? Irix? AIX? Solaris? HP-UX? – Jeff Schaller Oct 20 '18 at 1:05
  • The OS called Unix eventually divided into multiple variants over the course of its history. Today, you could pick one of these variants/derivatives and install it on your system. Wikipedia has a cool chart of this history: Evolution of Unix and Unix-like systems. – Haxiel Oct 20 '18 at 6:52
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    1) define "Unix" :) 2) Define "PC" and how much hardware support you need (network (esp WiFi), bluetooth, audio, graphics...). – xenoid Oct 20 '18 at 7:22
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    Possible duplicate of How to run Unix? – muru Oct 20 '18 at 8:14
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    Please, define what precisely you mean by "Unix", and what precisely you mean by "PC". If by "Unix" you mean "the original OS named Unix written by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Doug McIllroy, Joe Ossana et al in 1969 at Bell Labs", then no, you can't. That original version was written in PDP-7 assembly and only ran on a PDP-7. It was later ported to a PDP-11/20, but still written in assembly. If by "Unix" you mean "any OS that has passed the UNIX® testsuite and is certified UNIX®-compliant", then you can run Windows NT with SFU. If you mean "an OS that feels like Unix", then you can run … – Jörg W Mittag Oct 20 '18 at 9:13

Absolutely, though there really isn't much reason to unless you have a specific need for one these days. The reasons would generally be that you have specific hardware/software that only supports a particular implementation of Unix. That's mostly legacy stuff these days as Linux / *BSD are the 'go to' platforms. If you decide to do this just be aware: you won't gain very much and will lose a lot in terms of functionality and software availability. Also, there isn't one Unix, there are several different vendors so you'd have to pick one.


Agree with blihp and Jeff Schaller, having done lots of consulting and managed a few data centers... when you say "Unix proper", what do you mean? AT&T system V? True64? The one true unix?

If you want POSIX certfied, that is one thing, install an OS from the list on this page. If you want to learn "unix", there is more help in installing some variant of Linux than any other "unix" out there, IMHO.

  • The only Linux distribution I found mentioned on that page is Android. That sounds odd, I wouldn't have expected Android to be the most POSIX compliant among Linux distributions. – kasperd Oct 20 '18 at 6:42
  • @kasperd not that odd, if you know who made Android, and what are yearly fees required to obtain and hold POSIX certification... – Matija Nalis Oct 20 '18 at 8:58
  • @MatijaNalis It doesn't say Android is certified it just says it is compliant. That means the fees don't matter. But on a second look I realize it does say that most Linux distributions are POSIX compliant. Android just happens to be the only distribution mentioned explicitly, which is redundant since it already says most Linux distributions are POSIX compliant. – kasperd Oct 20 '18 at 9:31
  • @kasperd it only says Linux (and as a result, Android) are mostly compliant. They have minor (mostly?) deliberate differences. I would argue that today it's more important to be Linux compatible than POSIX compliant. – blihp Oct 20 '18 at 15:46
  • @blihp I agree that these days it is probably more important to be compatible with Linux than with POSIX. I haven't come across any of the traditional UNIX systems since 2011. I wonder if those have lost most of their market shares to Linux. OS X still has enough market share to be relevant, but it probably has been overtaken by Linux by now if we count both desktop, server, and embedded deployments. Lack of certification does not necessarily imply incompatible though. In terms of user space I would expect Android to be less compatible than most other Linux distributions. – kasperd Oct 20 '18 at 16:14

Yes, of course

I tried OpenSolaris once when it was still free. Nowadays it's not available anymore but you can still use various variants and forks of it like OpenIndiana, OmniOS and illumos. See Open Solaris derivatives and illumos Distributions

If you don't mind using a closed-source OS then Solaris 11 is still free for "developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your applications" as per its license. Oracle also provides ready-made VMs for use

Note that there are many Unix-like operating systems that are not Linux, and there are some Linux distros that are Unix-certified like Inspur K-UX and Huawei EulerOS

You can find more Unix OSes here. Most of them work only if you have money though, or at least work/study in an organization that has a real Unix system


Huawei has just released a community edition of EulerOS called openEuler. You can download and install it

  • While Solaris is a true UNIX, OpenIndiana is not. – forest Oct 20 '18 at 6:58
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    OpenIndiana is a fork (as in a copy of the source code) of OpenSolaris, how is that not UNIX ? – thecarpy Oct 20 '18 at 8:09
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    @thecarpy because UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group and you are only allowed by law the use that name in relation of approved products (that pay for the priviledge). Hence the use of UN*X, unixoid, UNIX-alike OS etc. – Matija Nalis Oct 20 '18 at 9:07
  • @MatijaNalis: In my country (and I suspect in most countries), trademarks only restrict, you know, "trade". I can call something "UNIX" as much as I want, as long as I don't compete (in a broad sense) with The Open Group. – Jörg W Mittag Oct 21 '18 at 12:14
  • @JörgWMittag Trademark law is in vast majority of countries way more complicated than such simplistic linguistic parsing of word "trademark". A registered trademark confers a bundle of exclusive rights upon the registered owner, including the right to exclusive use of the mark in relation to the products or services for which it is registered. (in same Nice classification). So you may not call your OS "UNIX" unless you have permission. – Matija Nalis Oct 23 '18 at 9:57

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