Difference between GNU and Unix

Even though the majority of us are accustomed to using Windows as our primary operating system, it is important for us to at least be familiar with other operating systems such as Unix, Linux, and others. This does not imply that Windows is the only operating system that has been used globally; rather, it indicates that other systems also take a larger proportion in terms of utilisation. The end functionality, which is using the computers to make our tasks easier, is the same regardless of the operating system that we might choose.

Read through this article to find out more about GNU and Unix and how they are different from each other.

What is GNU?

Richard Stallman, a prominent figure in the software revolution, initiated the development of GNU in 1984. It is a compilation of a number of free software programs. It was conceived with the intention that it would be open to anybody and everyone. As a result, access to the source code was not restricted. The foundational operating system, Unix, served as a source of creativity.

GNU may have been designed with Unix in mind, but the two operating systems' source codes couldn't be more different. It is not a product that belongs to a brand like Unix. The General Public License, also known as the GPL, was the license that applied to the work done on the GNU project.

Additionally, GNU cannot function on its own since it is missing the kernel. The kernel is the medium via which the software interprets its code to the hardware. Without the kernel, GNU is unable to function. GNU is built of open-source software, which means that it is available for anybody to use. However, GNU cannot function on a computer without the presence of an operating system. The GNU/Linux operating system is produced by fusing GNU with the kernel of the Linux operating system in this manner.

The original version of the GNU logo was developed by Etienne Suvasa, and Aurelio Heckert made some changes to it afterwards. In 2013, the logo was first made public by the Free Software Foundation. It resembles a penguin or an antelope with a black coat. The most well-known version of the penguin is the "Tux" logo.

The lowest level, known as the Hardware layer, is the one that contains the various peripheral devices, including the central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), and hard disc (HDD). The Kernel is the subsequent component that engages in direct interaction with the Hardware. It is responsible for delivering services to the upper levels from the bottom layers and is the central component of any operating system. It is also the component that constitutes the core of the operating system. The second one is called the Shell, and it is in charge of translating the commands that the user enters in terms of the functions that the kernel provides.

What is Unix?

Bell Laboratories' Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were the brains behind Unix. It was developed throughout the 1960s. Unix has been altered by a variety of businesses and organizations, and some of these entities have developed their very own operating system in which Unix codes are implemented and modified. In addition to serving as the fundamental operating system, Unix allows for the concurrent usage of its services by any number of users. Additionally, multitasking is a capability of the operating system.

Both a kernel and a shell are components of Unix. The kernel is responsible for essentially everything that has to do with file storage, time, memory space, and so on, whereas the shell is the component that translates our commands into a binary number that the computer can understand. The Unix logo is nothing more than a standard plain text representation of its letters.

Communication, offering security in three tiers, with passwords serving as the first layer, followed by encryption, and lastly permission to read, write, or execute files are some of the other characteristics that are included in Unix.

IBM AIX, SUN Solaris, Mac OS, and HPUX are examples of operating systems that have Unix extensions. These businesses incorporated the Unix source code into their operations, made modifications to it, and then developed their own operating systems.

Differences between GNU and Unix

The following table highlights the major differences between GNU and Unix −

Basis of ComparisonGNUUnix
OriginRichard Stallman, a hacker from the MIT AI Lab, was the person responsible for developing it.Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie created it for Bell Labs.
LogoThe penguin or the Gnu, which is a dark antelope, is used as the symbol for the GNU operating system.Its logo is simply the text of its name.
Source CodeThe GNU Source Code can be obtained without cost by anyone interested. We are able to make changes to the code to accommodate our needs.The source code for UNIX is not made available to the general public.
LicensingIt is made available to the public under the terms of the General Public License (GPL).The terms "Trademark of Bell Labs," "Trademark of AT&T Bell Labs," or "Trademark of X/Open" are typically used when referring to the UNIX license.
The Shell and the KernelIt utilizes the UNIX-like Kernel, despite the fact that it has its own Shell known as GNU.It comes with both a Shell and a Kernel component of its own.
Initially named asGNU, which is also the name that was given to the software that was builtBecause it was developed at AT&T Bell Labs, it was given the name AT&T UNIX.
FunctionTo function, a kernel is required.It already has a kernel and a shell, so it can run on its own.


GNU is an operating system that was developed to serve as a suitable alternative to UNIX and contains a wide variety of software applications. The GNU/Linux operating system, which makes use of the Linux kernel, is the most widely used variant of the GNU operating system.

Updated on: 21-Jul-2022


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