I often feel the need to refer to both systems "Unix and Linux", with the single word. I am not sure if such word exist?

  • Possible dup - unix.stackexchange.com/questions/4091/is-linux-a-unix
    – slm Mod
    Jul 30, 2018 at 13:49
  • 1
    should this be a meta question instead?
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Jul 30, 2018 at 13:52
  • 4
    Note that Unix is family of complete operating systems, while Linux is the kernel (a small though essential part of an operating system) found in a number of Unix-like and non-Unix-like operating systems, so it makes little sense to use them in the same sentence. That's only why Unix & Linux is quite confusing as the name of a SE site. Jul 30, 2018 at 13:52
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Euphemisms for unix
    – muru
    Aug 1, 2018 at 11:17
  • There are various OS-es and "OS standards", with partial overlapping. The lack of uniqueness was always the greatest weakness and the greatest strength of the.... unixes. What you really want to hear, is most likely: POSIX.
    – peterh
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:16
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    @Rob - my comment was from before it was migrated, I'll delete it now that it's been migrated to meta. I believe one of the other mods migrated it, seems better over here, IMO.
    – slm Mod
    Aug 4, 2018 at 15:54
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    I have seen the term *nix used often, it seems to cover this situation.
    – Shōgun8
    Mar 28, 2021 at 10:34
  • I'd second *nix
    – CtrlAltF2
    Apr 2, 2021 at 3:07

3 Answers 3


You'll typically see Unix & Linux referred to as described in this U&L Q&A titled: Is Linux a Unix?.

Often times you'll see them combined and referred to as *nix but even this isn't that popular. Linux & Unix aren't the same thing, and so typically they're referred to independently, hence why this site is called Unix & Linux.

This probably covers the topic the best on Wikipedia: Unix-like.


The Open Group owns the UNIX trademark and administers the Single UNIX Specification, with the "UNIX" name being used as a certification mark. They do not approve of the construction "Unix-like", and consider it a misuse of their trademark. Their guidelines require "UNIX" to be presented in uppercase or otherwise distinguished from the surrounding text, strongly encourage using it as a branding adjective for a generic word such as "system", and discourage its use in hyphenated phrases.1

Other parties frequently treat "Unix" as a genericized trademark. Some add a wildcard character to the name to make an abbreviation like "Un*x"[2] or "*nix", since Unix-like systems often have Unix-like names such as AIX, A/UX, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, Minix, Ultrix, Xenix, Xinu, and XNU. These patterns do not literally match many system names, but are still generally recognized to refer to any UNIX descendant or work-alike system, even those with completely dissimilar names such as Darwin/macOS, illumos/Solaris or FreeBSD.

  • 1
    To further add a complication, I question why BSD isn't in the title.
    – Rob
    Jul 30, 2018 at 13:52
  • @Rob - you meant the title of the site, not the Q? I took your comment to mean the latter.
    – slm Mod
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:02
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    Yes, I meant the title of the site.
    – Rob
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:02
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    I like the Unix-like word.
    – prosti
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:20

No because they aren't the same. UNIX is a trademarked name that is associated with operating systems that pass qualifications in order to obtain that name. Linux is a work-alike system but not the same thing and was derived from Minix which also isn't UNIX.

Similarly, perhaps, one cannot call "soft serve dairy deserts" ice cream just because they are smooth frozen deserts.

  • 1
    Really good observation. Of course they are not the same, but they are similar. Unfortunately, mentioning Unix and Linux together in the same sentence can sometimes be like stepping into a political minefield.
    – prosti
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:23

I have heard the tea "POSIX" be used to describe Unix and Linux. However, strictly speaking, that is not what POSIX means.

POSIX is a standard that most flavors of Unix and Linux comply with. Windows can be compliant via third party software (e.g. Cygwin).

If I were making a dictionary, I would put "Unix or Linux" as a definition, but I do not recommend using it that way.

On POSIX's Wikipedia page it says "Not to be confused with Unix-like which slm talks about in another answer.

  • Well, like you said yourself, POSIX is a set of standards (of tools and library/system calls) that an OS can provide. It's not an OS in itself, so calling Linux or FreeBSD "POSIX" isn't really accurate. You could call them "POSIX-compatible", or "POSIX-like", though. (But I guess "POSIX-like" should still mean "a POSIX-like standard", but it's relaxed enough to be stretched.) That is to say, as far as they are POSIX-compatible to begin with; a lot of the tools on a regular Linux-distribution strictly speaking aren't.
    – ilkkachu
    Apr 2, 2021 at 15:35
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    DEC's VMS and Intel's iRMX were POSIX compliant. Neither of those could be described as Unix-like.
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 8, 2021 at 10:39

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