What's the Future of Unix?

Unix advocates are developing the new specifications that they hope will carry the aging OS into the next era of computing.
Unix advocates are developing the new specifications that they hope will carry the aging OS into the next era of computing.

For the last 40 years, Unix operating systems have helped to power mission-critical IT operations around the globe. Now, as Unix enters middle age, its backers are busily developing the new specifications that they hope will carry the OS forward into the next age of computing.

Sitting at the forefront of the Unix ecosystem is the Open Group, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium that oversees usage of the Unix name and compliance with its specifications -- particularly The Single Unix Specification, a set of specs that constitutes a Unix-compliant system. Currently, The Single Unix Specification is at version 3 (Unix 03), though new specs are already in the works to expand on Unix 03's successes. "We've been very pleased with the uptake of Unix 03," Andrew Josey Director of Standards at the Open Group told InternetNews.com. "We're working on an evolution of that [for] which we've basically got the base specs done. We're just working on how to roll it out."

Doing so won't involve reinventing the wheel. Josey said that instead of ushering in a revolutionary change in Unix, any new specs will be evolutionary in nature -- and in particular, will continue to support existing platforms and prior Unix specs.

That's critical since backward compatibility has long been an important feature of Unix. According to Josey, application binaries built for 1995's Unix specification will still work on platforms today.

Such reliability has come to be a key selling point for Unix deployments, and for the host of companies that offer systems based on the OS. Unix 03-compliant operating systems come from multiple vendors including HP, IBM, Sun and even Apple, which has been Unix-compliant since 2007.

"Our vendors are very conservative," Josey said.

Read the rest at ServerWatch.






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