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Add-On shows promise for NT, Unix ties

Add-On shows promise for NT, Unix ties

Windows NT and Unix don't always get along as well as we would like them to. In the spirit of improving relations between the two operating systems, Microsoft is introducing its Windows NT Service for Unix Add-On pack. The pack provides a number of traditional Unix-based utilities for Windows NT, as well as added support for Telnet and Network File System (NFS). But the product won't take you as far along the road to integration as some of its competitors.

Services for Unix adds a few useful utilities that make Windows NT a little more Unix-friendly, but the product doesn't provide a very comprehensive suite of tools. In comparison to competing products, such as Softway Systems' OpenNT, Microsoft's product doesn't even come close to matching up to the functionality.

For example, OpenNT provides more extensive command support, more shell options, and a full X-Windows implementation capable of running Posix-compliant applications natively on Windows NT. However, while OpenNT provides utility chiefly at the client interface, Services for Unix is focused more on information sharing between Windows and Unix-based users.

As such, there are some nice features unique to the product. For example, Services for NT offers an NFS gateway that allows administrators to publish Windows NT shares as NFS volumes or vice versa. One of the features that I liked was the capability to map Unix user names and groups to Windows NT users or groups.

Overall, this feature does for Windows NT what Novell's NFS product does for NetWare, in terms of providing bidirectional access to data. The NFS sharing process needs to be streamlined quite a bit before the product ships. The sequential steps necessary to publish a share as an NFS volume are not all that evident. I had to tweak a few things to get the feature working.

Services for Unix also provides Windows NT with a new command-line Telnet client, and a Telnet server daemon. Together, these two services should offer some unique capabilities.

Microsoft's new command-line Telnet client offers a new terminal emulation type called VTNT. This type of emulation should allow users to access semi-graphical applications, such as Edit.com. However, I was unable to get this feature working in my tests.

Services for Unix also offers some limited Unix shell support. The beta release that I tested offered only Korn shell support. In addition, the product's Unix command set is fairly limited.

This package should help bring Unix and Windows NT users together, but Microsoft still has quite a bit of work to do if this product is going to ship by the end of the year.

The Bottom Line

Windows NT Services for Unix Add-On Pack, betaThis add-on for Windows NT brings a few traditionally Unix-based capabilities to Windows NT, but it is not the most comprehensive suite on the market.

Pros: Telnet daemon allows users to access the Windows NT command prompt as a default shell; Network File System (NFS) gateway capability allows administrators to publish NFS volumes as Windows NT share.

Cons: Only provides support for the Korn shell; limited Unix commands.

Platforms: Windows NT Server or Workstation 4.0 (Intel or Alpha), with Service Pack 3.

Price: Undetermined. Ship date: fourth quarter.

Microsoft

Tel (02) 9870 2100


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