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The UNIX wars

AT&T entered into an alliance with Sun Microsystems to bring the best features from the many versions of UNIX into a single unified system. While many applauded this decision, one group of UNIX licensees expressed the fear that Sun would have a commercial advantage over the rest of the licensees.

The concerned group in 1988 formed a special interest group, the Open Systems Foundation (OSF), to lobby for an "open" UNIX within the UNIX community. Soon several large companies -- who at the time were promoting their own proprietary operating systems in competition to UNIX -- also joined the OSF.

In response, AT&T and a second group of licensees formed their own group, UNIX International. The technical issues soon took a back seat to what can be charitably described as competitive maneuverings, and the trade press dubbed the ensuing controversy the "UNIX wars."

When efforts failed to bring the two groups together, each group brought out its own version of an "open" UNIX. Media wags soon noted the dispute could be viewed two ways: positively, since the number of UNIX versions were now reduced to two; or negatively, since there now were two more versions of UNIX to add to the pile.

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