There are many Unix-based systems in the world, and they all have their own goals, pros, and cons. For example, there is Linux, BSD variants of Unix (like macOS), and then there’s the UNIX variant itself.

For those who are not aware, UNIX is a popular operating system that has been around almost as long as computers have existed. It’s also an open-source software project that anyone can download and run on their own computer. It’s a great system for serveral different reasons. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Free Software

First, we will discuss free software as it applies to Linux. On a Linux system, there are no restrictive licenses or patents that may affect your use of the software. With the exception of the GPL, which this article will discuss in more detail, any software developed for and released under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) is free software.

Linux & its Distributions

When people think of Linux distributions, they usually think of Ubuntu, which is the most widely used. However, there are many others, many of them Debian-based, which means they are mostly free software. lists over 50 different Debian-based distributions of Linux, each with its own set of packages.

Mac OS

This is another UNIX-like operating system that came out of the Apple Macintosh line of computers. While many people are familiar with this system on a computer running Windows or a macOS system, it can also run on an Intel-based Macintosh computer running OS X. Like Linux, this operating system is also free software.

However, unlike its parent system, Mac OS can be booted and used as a “closed” system. In order to run software outside of the operating system, you will need to purchase a license for it. This is the case with almost all software that runs on this system.


This is another UNIX-like operating system that came out of the NetBSD family of computers. Like Mac OS and Linux, OpenBSD can be used as a closed or open system.

When OpenBSD is used as a closed system, only specific OpenBSD packages are allowed to run on the system. When these packages are installed, the rest of the system is shut down. Like most of the other commercially available UNIX systems, OpenBSD is not free software.


This is another UNIX-like operating system from the OpenBSD family. Like OpenBSD, FreeBSD is also a closed system. Like OpenBSD, this system is also not free software.

Solaris OS

This is another UNIX-like system that is also a part of the Solaris series of computers. Like Mac OS and Linux, Solaris can also run as a closed system or as an open system.

When running as a closed system, the operating system itself is closed. You can only run software that is categorized as “closed source” on this system. Like other closed-source operating systems, this one is not free software.

Other UNIX Variants

There are many other UNIX-based systems out there, many of them free. Some of them are based on the same Unix model as Linux, while others are not. For example, there’s FreeBSD-based OS X, OpenBSD-based OSI OS, NetBSD-based OS X, and the new Mac OS X El Capitan.

These systems have some things in common: They are all based on UNIX, they are all open-source, and they are all developed by different groups of people. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a system to use for your computer is to pick one that best aligns with your style of computing.

Final Words

Now that you know a bit about different Unix-based systems, it’s time to take a look at some of the best ones, and find out which one is the best fit for you and your needs.

There are plenty of options when it comes to UNIX-based systems, and it’s important to pick the right one for your needs. We hope this article helps educate those who are thinking about using a UNIX-based system, and can open their eyes to some new options.