Popular Enterprise UNIX Server Operating Systems 2017

  • Service Provider

    UNIX, as we know, is a family of families of operating systems. To many, UNIX represents effectively the entire non-Windows world of computing. UNIX encompasses a variety of vendors, kernels, ecosystems, products, schedules, methodologies, use cases and so forth. It's a huge world and there are literally thousands of unique UNIX products on the market both currently and even more in recent history. The UNIX world is therefore a moving target with new products arriving and old ones disappearing year after year. UNIX itself has been on a steady march since 1970 and isn't going anywhere. But what UNIX looks like, is seen as, is called and how it is perceived varies from year to year.

    Here I want to look at the popular UNIX products on the market in 2017 to get an idea of what products are important today. This is hardly exhaustive as to what is available but rather "these are the products that matter to the world of IT today." You'll find other products lingering on in legacy installations waiting for replacement, but new deployments are almost certainly going to be limited to this list. (This is purely for enterprise, production server use and has nothing to do with desktops, laptops, mobile devices, embedded systems and so forth.)

    I will separate this list into two main categories... the primary category which represents the operating systems remaining for normal usage and a niche category of those that still see use but are generally limited to very specific use cases and would not be used as the standard choice for an environment. (Example would be Solaris which today is almost exclusively used for Oracle database and application deployments rather than for general systems use.)

    Primary UNIX Operating Systems in 2017

    • Red Hat Linux Products
      • RHEL
      • CentOS
      • Fedora
    • Suse Linux Products
      • SLES
      • openSuse Leap
      • openSuse Tumbleweed
    • Ubuntu Products
      • Ubuntu
      • Ubuntu LTS
    • Debian Linux
    • FreeBSD
    • IBM AIX

    Niche UNIX Operating Systems in 2017

    • Oracle Solaris (niche: deployed on Oracle hardware for use running Oracle workloads.)

    In 2017, I feel that Solaris has fallen from primary use to niche use and is unlikely to find its way back to the primary list. The general consensus is that Solaris is heading towards retirement as Linux and BSD have so completely overtaking its former market position. Most likely, AIX will have to be considered niche by 2018, it's use as a general purpose OS is nearly gone today as well.

    Notably many products that still exist are no longer on the list. HP-UX, for example, is absent as it truly cannot be considered a viable UNIX option today except in the support of legacy workloads and any shop running HP-UX has to be looking at migration options for even short term support potential. Many well known OSes such as NetBSD and OpenBSD are very good products and not going anywhere, but are so uncommon and little used that they cannot be considered for this list.

    Surprisingly, the UNIX market has thinned considerably in the last few years and today, effectively only Linux and BSD families remains with any prominence in modern deployments with all three enterprise Linux options dominating that list.

  • I have a copy of SCO Unix. Very niche. Full box and license. Found it when i was clearing out the IT attic at work. I havent seen a Solaris box since 2010.