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Difference between UNIX and Windows Operating System

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  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 31 May, 2022

In this article, we will be looking into the major difference between UNIX and Windows Operating System.

 UNIX : 

UNIX is a powerful, multi-user, and multitasking operating system originally developed at AT & T Bell Laboratories. This operating system is very popular among the scientific, engineering, and academic due to its most appreciated features like flexibility, portability, network capabilities, etc. 

 Windows :

Microsoft window is a Graphical User Interface (GUI) based operating system that provides graphical user-friendly alternatives for most of the command-line based functions. Microsoft introduced a series of versions with the latest functions. 

Difference between UNIX and Windows Operating System : 

Here we will discuss the various differences between UNIX and Windows operating systems, based on various parameters.

1. Licensing:

UNIX was developed as an open-source OS using C and Assembly languages. Since being open source UNIX, and its various Linux distributions account for the most used OS in the world.  Unix and all its Linux distributions are available under the General Public License.

Windows Operating System is proprietary software owned by Microsoft, meaning its source code is not available to the public.

2. User Interface:

Unix operating systems are relatively harder to grasp and produce significant barriers for newcomers. However, some Linux distributions like Ubuntu are changing such perceptions by bringing in more GUI-based applications.

Windows Operating System on the other hand is designed with the outset of keeping the UI as simple and user-friendly as possible, so that non-IT people can easily use computers for their work.

3. Processing:

UNIX operating system supports Multiprocessing, meaning many processes are executed simultaneously. In Multiprocessing, every process has a separate address space and CPUs can be added for increasing computing power.

Windows Support Multithreading, meaning many threads are created from a single process for increasing computing power. In multithreading, many threads of a process are executed simultaneously where common address space is shared by all the threads.

4. File System:

UNIX operating system uses STD.ERR and STD.IO file systems or the UFS (Unix File System) and treats all physical drives as one logical drive. It has a robust and efficient file system. File system is represented as a hierarchical tree under the same root.

Windows on the other hand, uses File Allocation Table (FAT32) and New Technology File System(NTFS) systems for managing files and requires the owner of the executables before executing, files store in folders on different data drive like, C,D,E.

5. Users Accounts:

In the Linux system, there are three types of user accounts:

  • Regular: These accounts have the moderate privilege to intended for routine works, it can perform only the task for access only those files and services for which it is authorized.
  • Root: This account is the main user account of a Linux system, it has the highest privilege to work administrative level work to manage all the services. This is also known as superusers.
  • Service: This account is generally used by services to run the process.

In Windows, there are three types of user accounts:

  • Administrator: This account controls all the services and allows user to make changes and check the activities of other users
  • Child: This account comes with Family Safety settings which is assigned by the admin.
  • Guest: This account has no standard accounts with no privacy, it allows to other people use your computer without being able to change PC settings and install applications.

6. File Name Convention:

In Linux, we can save two files with the same name.

But in windows, we can not save with the same name. It generates errors:

7. Security:

UNIX is more secure by design. The primary protection on a Unix system is that executing a “.exe” file is much more difficult. Here executables cannot be processed without explicit permission as all processes in Unix are treated equally. But these are slowly changing as Unix distributions are moving more towards GUI and now relying on the application security itself. 

Another advantage of Unix systems is that getting rid of viruses is easier, as viruses can only infect user accounts and the root remains intact and pure.

Windows is less secure in the sense that it is simple to execute files with minimal permission. These can further lead to the installation of Malwares unknowingly on the system.

8. Data Backup & Recovery:

In the earlier version of UNIX, salvaging data from a system when the device housing the said data is inaccessible, was not possible. But in some distributions of Linux like Ubuntu, a new feature is introduced called Live distribution can be used to recover data from an inaccessible device.

Recovery and Backup of data in the Windows system are much simpler and can be done using its inbuilt GUI for the same. It has an integration with OneDrive for data backup and recovery too.

9. Case Sensitivity:

Unix is completely case-sensitive, meaning the files with names “GFG.txt” and “gfg.txt” can be considered two different files. Windows, on the other hand, have optional case sensitivity.

10. Hardware:

Hardware support is limited in UNIX systems. Some hardware might not have drivers built for them. Windows has almost all the drivers for all the available hardware.

11. Reliability:

Unix is known for being very stable to run. Although the stability of Windows has significantly improved in recent years, most Unix systems are still far superior in this respect.

S. No.ParametersUNIXWindows
1.BasicIt is a command-based operating system.It is a menu based operating system.
2.LicensingIt is an open-source system which can be used to under General Public License.It is a proprietary software owned by Microsoft.
3.User InterfaceIt has a text base interface, making it harder to grasp for newcomers.It has a Graphical User Interface, making it simpler to use.
4.ProcessingIt supports Multiprocessing.It supports Multithreading.
5.File SystemIt uses Unix File System(UFS) that comprises STD.ERR and STD.IO file systems.It uses File Allocation System (FAT32) and New technology file system(NTFS).
6.SecurityIt is more secure as all changes to the system require explicit user permission. It is less secure compared to UNIX.
7.Data Backup & RecoveryIt is tedious to create a backup and recovery system in UNIX, but it is improving with the introduction of new distributions of Unix.It has an integrated backup and recovery system that make it simpler to use.
8. HardwareHardware support is limited in UNIX system. Some hardware might not have drivers built for them.Drivers are available for almost all the hardware.
9.ReliabilityUnix and its distributions are well known for being very stable to run. Although Windows has been stable in recent years,  it is still to match the stability provided by Unix systems.
10.Case SensitiveIt is fully case-sensitive, and files can be considered separate files. It has case sensitivity as an option.

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