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Character information
Common name UNIX
Also known as UNICS
Human name(s) Eunice Bell
First appearance 2007-09
Height 153 cm (5 ft 0 in)
Hair color Two-tone purple
Eye color Two-tone blue
Weapon(s) Fire magic
Various sourceries
Aluminum staff
Faction Linux Unix Consortium
Lineage UNIX (matriarch/founder)
Rival(s) Various
Technical information
System personified UNIX
Developer(s) Bell Labs, AT&T, Novell, SCO
Debut 1969-07-31 (internal)
1971-11-03 (public)
Latest release System V Release 5, 1998

Technical details

Unix was originally developed in 1969 by AT&T Bell Labs employees Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. It was originally developed to run on the PDP-7, a small and underpowered minicomputer. Because of its sparse development conditions, Unix was a radical departure from OS designs of the day; built to be small, flexible and highly portable. From the PDP-7 it was ported to the PDP-11 and in 1973 was rewritten entirely in C. AT&T had been forbidden to enter the computer industry by an anti-trust lawsuit, and thus couldn't sell Unix as a product; but this didn’t stop its creators from sending out Unix tapes and source code to those who asked. Because of this, Unix quickly caught on as an academia, with people the world over modifying and creating new versions.

Bell Labs’ Unix had many research and academic versions released, Version 7 being considered the “last true (research) Unix”. Some of its more famous descendants include BSD, Plan 9, Solaris, AIX, and Mac OS X. It inspired the creation of countless more Unix-like OSes – Linux perhaps the most famous example.

The history of Unix traces back to Multics. The two OSes shared several developers, and in fact the “failure” of Multics inspired the creation of Unix. While Unix carries some traits inherited from Multics, it is the opposite in design and philosophy – Unix being simple and improvised, Multics complex and built with deliberate plans in mind.

Character details

Physical Design

Unix-tan is depicted as a short, pale-skinned young woman, apparently matured to her mid-late teens in spite of being aged well past 40. She has long, near-black purple hair with purple highlights, usually worn loose although some depictions show her wearing a ponytail. A little above her humanoid ears, she has a pair of fluffy, dark gray horned owl ears. Her eyes are also owl-like - piercing, intimidating and inquisitive-looking, deep blue in color with electric blue highlights. She has aqua-colored Bell Laboratory logos implanted over her pupils (initially described by her concept artist, C-Chan, as being a "a quaint tribute to a harsher and savage era") and wears browline glasses. She usually dresses in simple monochrome-colored clothing, often being depicted in boots, a blazer, sweater-vest, shirt, small tie and pleated skirt with perforated "UNIX" accents or a plain, long-sleeved and knee-length black dress. Since the early 1990s she has been confined to a wheelchair and has been pictured both in an elaborate power wheelchair and a more portable manual one.

She is often shown holding a polished aluminum staff with a variety of Roman numerals inscribed into its surface. While it mostly functions as a sort of ceremonial sceptre, she is sometimes shown using it as a weapon. The numbers in its surface symbolize the various tenets of Unix Philosophy.


Unix possesses a strong inborn intellect and has fantastic common sense and survival instincts. Naturally curious, she enjoys learning new things and busying her mind and is rarely seen without a book or two. Although she began life orphaned and destitute, she caught on as an academic system allowing her to attend classes at a number of universities and ultimately receive an excellent education.

She is magically-powerful enough to get her way by means of sorcery; however her shrewd and Machiavellian nature makes her disposed to using mind-games to enact her will. In fact, she is so skilled at manipulation that she can defeat rivals by using their own psychology against them or use masquerades to turn enemies into allies. She is often believed to be sociopathic or even monstrous because of these tendencies. Although she posseses a higher-than-average sense of self-preservation - bordering on selfishness - she is not without conscience and has shown regret for her past transgressions as well as compassion toward those in need.

Unix's value system has gone through a number of changes throughout her lifetime. She started off as a proponent of what would later be known as "free software" and (unwittingly) pioneered a sort of Open Source model. However, she slowly abandoned her early espousal of freedom and communality for the sake of making money and securing power and turned into a greedy industrialist for a time. But the Unix Wars made her reevaluate her morals and she has since returned to her early ethos - in the process, literally becoming an Open Source OS-tan. Throughout her life, she has cultivated and maintained a set of values known as Unix Philosophy. Chief among these is the belief that simplicity is key and should take precedence over completeness, that change is inevitable and should be prepared for, that program-tans should maintain harmony with each other and be trained to do one thing and do it well among many others. This Unix Philosophy is practiced by many of her daughters and followers and is considered a cornerstone of their society.

Her emotions are notoriously unstable - she rarely hides or feigns her feelings and tends to speak whatever is on her mind. Due to this, she has a reputation for being temperamental and neurotic and there are numerous accounts of her lashing out violently when angered (with whacks from her staff or thrown objects favorite attacks of hers'). Her detractors point out this trait as evidence of underlying unreliability, while her proponents appreciate her honesty above all else. It should be known that Unix-tan appreciates honesty from her followers as well, and will not tolerate condescension or sycophantic behavior among them. Her gentler side is known by her friends, as well as the vintage-tans she helps to support at the Binteeji Renmei.

Family and relationships

Her Descendants

Like the Linux-tans and many "contemporary" OS-tan societies, the Unixes reproduce via exogenesis, meaning large numbers of offspring can be created quite easily and with little personal involvement from their genetic-donors. As such, Unix-tan has found herself with hundreds of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom have varying levels of relationship to their "matriarch" due to extensive genetic manipulation.

Unix doesn't show much in the way of compassion towards her family and approaches her children with a Social Darwinist attitude, leaving them to fend for themselves so the strongest, most innovative or well-connected reach the top of the family hierarchy, while the weaker ones fade into obscurity or die altogether. She believes that this natural-selection approach makes her family stronger; while it has certainly strengthened individuals, it has also fostered infighting and selfishness and undermined their political stability. The most successful of her daughters got stronger after the Unix Wars, but destroyed the livelihoods - and often times, lives - of their less successful kin in the process.

An exception to this attitude is the interest she shows in Mac OS X Leopard-tan. Uncharacteristically, Unix reached out to the OS X family after the birth of Leopard and later offered to become a patron to the young genius, going as far as granting her status as a full-blooded Unix (via the Single Unix Specification), putting her among an elite few. Later, Unix revealed her interest was not entirely altruistic; she funded Leopard's education and research in physics in an attempt to spark the creation of time travel technology which Unix could co-opt for her own purposes, specifically performing inter-temporal reconnaissance to ensure the continued success of the Unix race.

With Linux

While originally convinced that the Linux-tans would displace and destroy her family as her family had done to earlier generations of computers, sometime toward the end of the Unix Wars Unix-tan realized that the salvation of her people and their way of life lies with the Linux family. She adopted Linux-tan into her society and since then the young open sourceress has ascended high in the Unix hierarchy, becoming something of a right-hand man to Unix herself.

Linux and Unix-tan's relationship stretches far beyond the professional. Although their first meeting was fraught with mutual distrust, they quickly came to develop a deep respect for one another - admiration that slowly gave way to affection, at first platonic, but later romantic. There have been many hints that this is due to their many shared experiences and complementary personalities making them akin to soul mates. Although Unix-tan kept her feelings toward Linux to herself for years in fear of ruining their professional relationship and friendship, she and Linux eventually confessed their love for each other and entered into a relationship, albeit one carried on in secrecy to avoid politically trouble with their oftentimes opposing sub-factions.

Vintage OS-tans

Unix is generally compassionate toward the Vintage-tans, partially out of regret for her role in destroying the lives of so many OS-tans that came before her, partially out of a sense of charity for the less powerful and capable in society. She has shown her compassion and desire to make amends by funding Amiga-tan's creation of the Binteji Renmei, a society dedicated to saving outdated and abandoned OS-tans from a world often uncaring, and sometimes outright hostile, to their kind.

History and Background

Birth and Early Life

Unix's origins trace back to the mid-1960s and Bell Labs' involvement in Project MAC, the project to build Multics-tan. In 1969 the project became too behind schedule and over-budget and Bell Labs withdrew support. However, a number of computer scientists decided to use the experience - and code - gained in the project and started work on an OS-tan of their own. She was built over the course of several months with the help of PDP-7 and GCOS-tan and came to be known as UNICS, her name a deliberate pun on that of her mother's. UNICS was originally curious about her origins but was ordered not to ask questions. Once she was mature enough, she was put to work filing patents in Bell Labs' offices and here discovered her connection to Multics-tan. Whenever she asked about Multics she was told unfavorable things about the woman: that she was set on conquering OS-tan society, that she was dangerous, mentally-unstable and had delusions of grandeur. These things weren't true, but it was enough to convince young Unix.

GCOS-tan, stepsister and sworn enemy of Multics, further misled Unix in an attempt to goad her into assassinating her rival. She fed the young girl a steady stream of vitriol concerning Multics and eventually Unix was convinced that she alone could vanquish the "insane sorceress". Thus began months worth of attempts to physically injure, politically or socially undermine or outright kill Multics.

Unix first tried eliciting the help of other like-minded OS-tans, but was rejected – the only thing worse than Multics, in their mind, was this unknown trying to stir up trouble. Disheartened she attempted attacking Multics by herself, but was easy defeated by the older woman's strength. Not able to match Multics in terms of power, she turned to scheming ingenuity to bring Multics down to her level; but the attacks continued to backfired and eventually, she was nearly killed by Multics out of spite. During this altercation a part of Multics psionic energy was transferred to Unix, who used those powers to successfully cut through Multics' defenses and brutally attack her.

Outwardly, the attack seemed like a success: Unix gained magical ability while diminishing Multics' power, setting her sorcery back many years and almost certainly dooming her to a life of social near-triviality. But shame and regret welled up inside Unix almost immediately: she was horrified that she'd almost killed her mother and these new powers seemed like nothing but a reminder of what she had done. Likewise, she had two rather apparent physical reminders of the fight: the sceptre she'd stolen from Multics and a pair of large, feathery black wings growing from her back. While Unix had been born with the capacity for these avian features (evidenced by her owl ears), the magic she absorbed had awakened the growth of the wings. Unix was later able to find a spell to (non-permanently) hide the wings and lived with them hidden for many decades.

Rise to Power

In the 1970s Unix saw her first children created; among these, BSD and a panoply of lesser-known offspring. While Unix had originally been strongly anti-corporate and anti-proprietary – opting, instead, for a philosophy of freedom and self-determination – her company turned her slowly away from her bohemian roots and, seduced by the promise of greater power and money, she turned into a thoroughly capitalist businesswoman. She struck up a number of successful alliances with minicomputer-tans, most notably PDP-11-tan, and slowly became the minicomputer OS-tan of choice. This had several effect: The undermining of rival minicomputer OS-tans in favor of Unix and her family; the deterioration of Non-Unix computer communities (particularly, the various Elder Days Hacker Cultures best exemplified by those of MIT and Stanford); and the surge in popularity among minicomputer hardware-tans set back the advancement their larger cousins, the Mainframes.

As Unix's power and influence grew, conservative and free-spirited OS-tans alike rallied against her; but it was too late, Unix was too powerful. She and her family destroyed many of their critics and demolished ancient and long-held customs and cultures across the land.

Unix Wars

See also: Timeline of The Unix Wars

During the mid 1980s, infighting spread among Unix cultures in an attempt to secure factional supremacy and a unified society; this sparked the Unix Wars, years of relentless attrition that nearly destroyed the Unixes from within. FreeBSD, drafted into the war, defected to form her own faction; likewise, Plan 9 – Unix's heir – abdicated the thrown. By the early 1990s, Linux, a young but powerful Unix-like was universally loathed by the Unix-tans, who believed she would bring further instability – and a possible death blow – to their kind. Unlike the others, Unix saw Linux as their potential salvation; together they formed a mutually beneficial alliance that lasts to this day. Unix has returned to her roots for the most part and is happier because of it.


Theories and notes

See also: