Difference between DOS and Unix

DOS and Unix are operating systems where DOS is supported for only x86 computer systems and Unix supports for all systems. DOS is a single user operating system whereas Unix is a multi-user operating system.

DOS was developed for personal computers (x86 type) and embedded systems. Unix was developed in AT &T Bell University which is primarily used in servers.

What is DOS?

DOS is the short form of Disc Operating system. 86-DOS was developed by Tim Patterson in 1980. Later Microsoft bought this and released MS-DOS in 1981. It is a single processing operating system that can be run only on x86 based computers. This is the first OS used for personal computers which was later replaced by Windows.

DOS is written in C and Assembly language. It has three proprietary versions (MS-DOS, IBM DOS and DR-DOS) and a free version (Free DOS). It has command line interface (CLI). It is read from hard disc or floppy disc. Its kernel is of Monolithic type.

DOS is not case sensitive. It consists of number of commands which are difficult to remember. Dir is the command used for internal code and Deltree for external code. It can perform only a single task at a time. It can’t perform multi-tasking. DOS doesn’t have any inbuilt security.

DOS provide access for various input-output devices. DOS doesn’t need any pointing devices. DOS is mostly used in Embedded systems.

Features of DOS

  • 16-bit operating system

  • Command line interface

  • Doesn’t support GUI

  • Pointer devices are not supported

What is UNIX?

Unix is a multi-tasking and multi-user operating system developed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson and released on November 3, 1971. It is written in C and assembly language. It can be run on all computers. Unix has many proprietary versions and free and open-source versions.

Unix provides Graphical user interface similar to that of windows. It is a multi-purpose operating system and supports multiple users at a time. It follows the concept of time sharing where CPU time is divided into multiple time slices and each time slice is allotted to a single user. After completion of that time, the control is passed to the next user. Also, it can perform multiple tasks or programs simultaneously. We can work on multiple programs at the same time.

Unix represents the word UNICS that stands for UNiplexed Information Computing system. Unix provides high security compared to other OS. It has multiple layers of security. Each user is assigned with username and password to protect data. The commands of Unix are case-sensitive.

Unix is easy for those who dealt with DOS. The commands of Unix can be understood easily. But it not for beginners as they find it difficult to understand. Unix is only for programmers.

Unix is used in mainframe and super computers. It is widely used in server computers to provide high security and storage. Recently some of the mobile phones and tablets are also using Unix operating system.

Unix manages its memory very effectively. When the number of programs increases, Unix increases its virtual memory. As most of the Unix is written in C language, it is portable.

Features of Unix

  • Multi-tasking

  • Multi-processing

  • Multi-user

  • High security

  • Portable

  • Open source

Difference between DOS and UNIX

The following table highlights the major differences between DOS and UNIX −





DOS is a computer operating system which is read from disc storage devices such as floppy discs or hard disc

Unix is a multi-user and multi-tasking operating system

Released in

DOS is released in 1981

Unix is released in 1971

Full form

DOS stands for Disc Operating System

Unix actually refers to the word UNICS that stands for UNiplexed Information Computing system

No. of users

It allows only single user

It allows multi-users

No. of tasks

It can perform only single task at a time

Unix performs multi-tasking

Case sensitivity

DOS is not case sensitive

Unix is case sensitive

Path separator

It uses backward slash

It uses forward slash

System supported

DOS can only be operated on x86 based systems

Unix can be operated on any system


DOS is command line operating system

Unix supports few GUI features


DOS doesn’t support networking

Unix supports networking

Versions available

DOS has three proprietary versions (MS-DOS, IBM DOS and DR-DOS) and a free version (Free DOS)

Unix has a no. of proprietary and free versions


It is written in C and x86 assembly language

It is written in c and assembly language


DOS is used in embedded systems

Unix is used in servers and some mobiles

File type

It contains batch files

It contains shell files

Power consumed

It consumes less power

It consumes more power


It doesn’t have virtual and protected memory

Unix has virtual and protected memory


DOS doesn’t provide any inbuilt security features

Unix is more secured than DOS

Run on

DOS is designed to run only on a single computer

AS Unix supports multi-users, it is designed to run on a network of computers


DOS is an operating system whose services is mostly provided for x86 systems and embedded systems. Unix operating systems are used in large complex computers such as super computers which is used as servers.

The main difference between the two is that the DOS is a single user processing system that can perform only a single task at a time whereas Unix is a multi-user processing system supports multi-tasking.

Updated on: 21-Apr-2023

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