A Un*x computer system is a Unix or other multiuser POSIX-based system.

"UNIX" is a registered trademark of The Open Group, so systems such as GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD can't use it without paying royalties that would be too expensive for a product marketed to individual consumers. Nevertheless, the term has been applied to these systems in much the same was as "Band-Aid" is applied to all bandages or "Xerox" is applied to all photocopiers. The spelling "Un*x" was then derived as a way to say "Unix" without really saying it.

When ordinary consumers refer to their generic-brand facial tissues as "Kleenex" or their Linux boxes as "Unix", this falls under fair use. Nevertheless, many individuals stick to "Un*x" in writing for various reasons, such as:

  • Failure to realise that they are covered by fair use;
  • A desire to stress that the system being discussed is not actually Unix;
  • A desire to make their writing usable by people or organisations affiliated with the free software or open source movements that often advertise non-Unix Un*x systems;
  • Such an affiliation themselves.