What is UNIX?
Unix is an operating system and a programming environment. From an end user standpoint, a Unix operating system is quite a bit different than Windows. That’s because you can (if you choose) work in line command mode – you don’t have to use the interface with the buttons.
UNIX is still very relevant to today’s developer and has actually had a recent resurgence.
The Unix system is far older than Windows and far older than most computer languages. However, it’s still very relevant to today’s developer. Unix operating systems have had a resurgence in recent years. People are drawn by, among other things, the perception of greater security. The system is written in C and is thus easy to install. Many developers like to do their coding in a Unix environment because of the portability. (If one sees applications being utilized on operating systems other than Windows, it can be a good choice.)
A further advantage is that some derivatives are open source. Ownership and trademark, though, have sometimes been matters of controversy.
Opting for Unix
So what does it mean for a techie who’s seeking better employment? There is demand for individuals who can do shell scripting – in other words, write commands for the command line interpreter.
Unix is also seen as good foundation for work with related operating systems. Mac’s OS system is based off Unix, and Unix skills are sometimes cited in Apple’s job ads. A recent ad for mobile developer, for instance, cited comfort working in a GNU Linux/Unix environment.
There is demand for individuals who can do shell scripting – in other words, write commands for the command line interpreter.
It’s not just application and systems engineers, though, who benefit from having some Unix skills. There are also IT roles like system administrator.
History of Unix
Development of Unix and of the C language is credited to Dennis Ritchie, an oft forgotten computer guru who was briefly back in the public consciousness last year( after his death at age 70). His partner in Unix development was Kenneth Thompson. For their achievements, the two won a Turing Award in 1983 and a National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1998.
Unix can’t entirely be described as a two person operation; it built on earlier work at Bell Labs. The goal was to get a system of computers networking.
Unix development has continued long past the time Ritchie and Thompson were the primary participants. Like most technologies, it has been through multiple editions. It enjoyed widespread usage only after the release of the 6th edition in 1975. In the years since, it’s added a lot of functionality.
Mac’s OS system is based off Unix, and Unix skills are sometimes cited in Apple’s job ads.
During its long history, Unix has been under the control of different organizations including AT & T and Novell. At points, there were competing standards. The Open Group formed in 1995 as a merger, and Unix has been under its auspices since.
The well-known operating system Linux is based on Unix and is open source.
Today Unix exists in many forms and in many products, but there’s one set of standards that must be adhered to if a product is to call itself Unix certified.
There are many resources to help you learn Unix. You can find a good beginner’s tutorial on TutorialsPoint. There’s also a section for advanced users. To get some of the basics – plus an entertaining account of having to learn the basics fast – you can visit Web Monkey.
Not enough? You might also want to seek out The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction. It’s recommended by Sandra Henry-Stocker, who writes the Unix as a Second Language blog on ITWorld.
If you need answers to specific questions, you may want to bookmark Unix.com (also known as the Unix and Linux forums). There are search tools that allow you to easily find information in the database. You’ll probably need some foundation, though, to benefit from the forums. (There is a forum “Unix for Dummies”, but most resources posted there are not for true beginners.)
Unix certifications can be a career booster down the road. The GIAC offers a Certified UNIX Security Administrator credential. Hewlett-Packard offers a certification for systems administrators. There are also Unix-related IT certifications available through Red Hat. Many organizations offer certification in Linux.