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Looking Ahead to Unix's Future

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For the last 40 years, Unix operating systems have helped to power mission-critical IT operations around the globe. Now, as Unix enters middle age, its backers are busily developing the new specifications that they hope will carry the OS forward into the next age of computing.

Sitting at the forefront of the Unix ecosystem is the Open Group, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium that oversees usage of the Unix name and compliance with its specifications -- particularly The Single Unix Specification, a set of specs that constitutes a Unix-compliant system. Currently, The Single Unix Specification is at version 3 (Unix 03), though new specs are already in the works to expand on Unix 03's successes. "We've been very pleased with the uptake of Unix 03," Andrew Josey Director of Standards at the Open Group told "We're working on an evolution of that [for] which we've basically got the base specs done. We're just working on how to roll it out."

Although test suites are now being built for next version of the Unix specification, there are still several more steps ahead before the new Unix specifications become formally approved.

The Linux challenge

While Unix has weathered a variety of challenges over the 40 years of its existence, one of the most recent -- and persistent -- threats to its position in the marketplace has been the rise of Linux.

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