what is unix system

All operating systems provide services for programs they run. Typical services include  executing a new program, opening a file, reading a file, allocating a region of memory, getting the current time of day, and so on. The focus of this text is to describe the services provided by various versions of the UNIX operating system..

Describing the UNIX System in a strictly linear fashion, without any forward references to terms that haven’t been described yet, is nearly impossible (and would probably be boring). This chapter provides a whirlwind tour of the UNIX System from a programmer’s perspective. We’ll give some brief descriptions and examples of terms and concepts that appear throughout the text. We describe these features in much more detail in later chapters. This chapter also provides an introduction and overview of the services provided by the UNIX System, for programmers new to this environment.

UNIX Architecture

In a strict sense, an operating system can be defined as the software that controls the hardware resources of the computer and provides an environment under which programs can run. Generally, we call this software the kernel, since it is relatively small and resides at the core of the environment.

The interface to the kernel is a layer of software called the system calls . Libraries of common functions are built on top of the system call interface, but applications are free to use both. The shell is a special application that provides an interface for running other applications.

In a broad sense, an operating system is the kernel and all the other software that makes a computer useful and gives the computer its personality. This other software includes system utilities, applications, shells, libraries of common functions, and so on.

For example, Linux is the kernel used by the GNU operating system. Some people refer to this as the GNU/Linux operating system, but it is more commonly referred to as simply Linux. Although this usage may not be correct in a strict sense, it is understandable, given the dual meaning of the phrase operating system.