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Microsoft Operating Systems Software Unix

Windows Services For Unix Now Free Of Charge 687

pole writes "Version 3.5 of Services for Unix will be free. Previously, it was $99. This article at Information Week has the details. It contains an NFS client and server in addition to POSIX libraries and utilities including pthreads. Aside from the NFS utilities, how does the environment compare to Cygwin?" An anonymous reader adds links to coverage at and at, writing "The reviews for these tools have been highly favorable. It looks like the next volley has been fired in the struggle between Windows and Linux."
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Windows Services For Unix Now Free Of Charge

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  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) * <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:44PM (#7975859) Journal
    Let's make this simple for simple people like me. Does this mean in a week I can go to Microsoft's website, download a .exe file, run it, and be able to mount NFS partitions off my linux file server? I could ditch samba? Yes no?
  • Microsoft motives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glinden ( 56181 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:44PM (#7975861) Homepage Journal
    Can you say, "embrace and extend?"
  • by Mongo222 ( 612547 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:45PM (#7975875)
    What a fantastic set of tools for people who are migrating thier windows boxes to a Linux/Unix envirornment. Glad they finally saw the light of day and are working to join us.
    • by Bad Boy Marty ( 15944 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:34PM (#7976537) Homepage
      Actually, in spite of comments below, I consider this an acquiescence on Microsoft's part that their customers really do want many of the features present in Unix-like systems that are not found in Windows systems. Naturally, Microsoft would never admit this, but I find it difficult to interpret any other way.

      My biggest complaint about Microsoft products has always been the inherent insecurity of blindly executing code (whether it be macros in a spreadsheet, or an actual executable in an email message). But this product addresses a lot of my 2nd biggest complaint about them: lack of scriptability (i.e., hands-off operation).

      The sad thing is, most Windows users have absolutely no concept of how useful this is -- until they are forced to use a Unix-like system. Then, when they see how powerful it can be, and go back to their Windows systems, they claim "Oh, Windows doesn't need that: all the apps just do the right thing when I drag&drop."

      So sad....
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:46PM (#7975890) Homepage Journal
    It's really "unix services" for "Windows". They can't even get the name right - what else did they screw up at the forge of Mordor?
  • how it compares (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:47PM (#7975901) Journal
    I've not used cygwin, but I have used the SFU demo.

    They include gcc, but most of the other utilities are from OpenBSD or other non-GPL sources (there are about 40 different licenses included). ActiveState perl is also included, though you can get that free anyhow.

  • by SkArcher ( 676201 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:47PM (#7975903) Journal
    The idea is obviously to encourage migration from Unix to Windows, but it can just as easily be used to encourage migration in the other direction.

    It is to be hoped that such opportunities are taken up by people wishing to get the out of MS lock in in a gradual manner.
    • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:50PM (#7975951)
      Regardless of whether or not it backfires, it _does_ help interoperability, and that is a Good Thing no matter how you look at it. Almost nobody is exclusively Unix or MS, nor should they necessarily be.

      The only bitch I will have is if this is like other Microsoft attempts at "interoperability" where they break shit. Think kerberos, java, etc.
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:56PM (#7976047) Homepage Journal
      The idea is obviously to encourage migration from Unix to Windows, but it can just as easily be used to encourage migration in the other direction.

      Doubtful. Companies that are already Windows shops have a hard time taking all those windows documents and spreadsheets and power point presentations etc... and switching them over to a *nix equivalent (or standard format). The chances of a backfire are minimal.

      The tools that do this were already available in the forms of SAMBA (and others). I'd say this is just a better way to help people switch from *nix environments to Windows (and MS is making it free so it isn't "worse than the open source solution").

      Quite an ingenious decision on the part of MS, if I may say so.
      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:07PM (#7976205) Journal
        If this is a real NFS then this is. ehm let me think about it.

        Say a windows shop decides to introduce a *n(i|u)x fileserver. With samba they gotta make sure that any new windows version can talk to samba. Sure new windows versions don't appear every year but still often enough for it to be a concern. Especially with License 6.0 where you pay for the upgrade of windows anyway.

        Now if the new windows can just talk for free to the nfs on the unix machine. Hmm, no longer an obstacle to upgrading. Then again no obstacle to using a unix machine either.

        Mmmm, I think this may be a case were MS may neither lose nor win.

        As for making it free. Did some NFS for windows maker piss of Bill Gates? If this is a good nfs and not one of ms'es standard embrace and break jobs then they are all out of business.

  • No multithreading (Score:4, Informative)

    by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:47PM (#7975905)
    A shallow compatibility layer. I like it better than Cygwin, but that is just me.
  • by The One KEA ( 707661 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975914) Journal
    Something like this happen could mean that Microsoft is starting to have a slight change of heart about the presence of Linux/UNIX. Having this available for free could be great boon to people who have to run Linux alongside M$ - this ranks right up there with Samba, IMO.

    Especially interesting is the addition of the pthread library to the Posix API package.
  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) * <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975915) Homepage
    This is probably a good thing for Microsoft: make it easier to run Unix (aka Posix) apps on their systems. Odds are, they walked into too many meetings like this:

    Salesman: So, that's how much switching to Microsoft Server will cost.

    IT Guy: Yeah, but then there's the development costs of porting over our Unix and Linux stuff over.

    Salesman: Who needs it! We've got IIS!

    IT Guy: Yeah, but we developed our own apps or used some open source stuff -

    Salesman: Agggghhh! We speak not its name!

    IT Guy: Um, right. Anyway, now we'd have to redevelop those for Windows. How much does that Unix thing cost on Microsoft?

    So now the answer is "free". I'm not saying I like Windows servers over Unix-style boxen - but this was a good business choice for MS.

    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
  • Not all so hot (Score:5, Informative)

    by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975919)
    I guess it depends on what you use it for. But as I have to do development work in Windows, I thought I'd try it out. Searching through the million line source tree our company has took about 10 times as long with 'grep' that came with "Services for UNIX" as it did with 'grep' that came with a now ancient version of MKS. Both of these were slower that current GNU grep on a Linux box, but the difference between GNU and MKS grep is not dramatic.

    The lesson stays, however. If you expect to basically start with all the power of your Linux box, you'll be sorely dissappointed, just as someone expected the ease of use of Windows coming to Linux will be sorely dissappointed.
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <<ibisum> <at> <>> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975925) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know?

    I'm not gonna use it unless I get the source. Period.
  • Based upon OpenBSD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975929)
    Microsoft based this product upon OpenBSD: 008 []

    • Microsoft based this product upon OpenBSD

      And GNU. From their licensing page []:

      GPL Utility
      Source Code

      The GPL utility source code for Services for UNIX 3.0 contains the base utilities diff, sdiff, bc, dc, cpio, gzip, gunzip, gawk, patch, csplit, nl, strings, rpm, and SDK utilities/libraries, gcc, gdb, g++, g77, gasp, objcopy, ld, as, ar, nm, size, strip, ci, co, diff3 rcs, rlog, and ident.

      The GPL utility source code for Interix 2.2 contains the utilities bc, ci, co, cpio, csplit, dc, diff, dif

  • by slacy ( 605407 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#7975932) Homepage
    Wow, what a great acronym, and I'm quite surprised that they seem to be actually using it externall!

    Anyone who disagrees with microsoft can just SFU! I mean, install SFU from

    (Just in case somebody missed it, SFU = Shut the F**k Up.)
  • Good Old Econ 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stuffedmonkey ( 733020 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#7975940)
    We are really starting to see the results of constant economic pressure in Microsoft. Once a monopoly has real competition - it is forced to either *gasp* innovate or lower prices! I think in the coming years, All computer users will benefit from Linux - even if they never use it. Windows users will see lower prices and a somewhat friendlier Beast, and Mac users are already getting a ton of great open source product integreted into OS X.
  • No big deal, really. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ubiquitin ( 28396 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#7975947) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft was giving tons of them away on their Windows 2003 Server promotional tour and as has been note elsewhere [] this is really just an OpenBSD distro with a few more LDAP-ish tools thrown in.

    I think the message from Microsoft with all of this seems to be that Unix stuff is worthless and just a hassle to tie together with their products. Reality: Microsoft products are a huge liability. Ask anyone who has had their files randomly mailed due one of the thousands of email viruses. The security breaches that Microsoft products bring to the table far more than offset any of their claimed savings in techie hours. Typical BigCo at this points wants to be safeguarding what productivity they have, not tossing it away by opening up more holes than can be patched twice monthly over broadband. Bleh. Even if they gave away MicrosoftServer 2003, I still wouldn't bite. Put the Exchange stack on Linux, and then we'll talk.
  • by mattkime ( 8466 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:50PM (#7975958)
    This great news for those windows users out there. It will be surely provide much needed apps for this upstart operating system. Now, whenever someone says, "Windows? But what can I do with it?" you can point out that they can run their favorite unix apps.
  • by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:50PM (#7975965)
    Overall, services for unix is good. It provides many of the common unix utilities, and it integrates them into the shell [even just cmd] very well. Much better, and 'cleaner' than cygwin. Cygwin has *many* more tools though, and they work 'well enough'.

    In my experience, using the two together [having SFU's directory in the path before cygwin's] gives you the best of both releases.

    • by fastdecade ( 179638 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:09PM (#7976221)
      Being required to sometimes develop under windows, I need this integration. Haven't used unix services, but I find Cygwin integration very "challenging". I know other people who've given up on it simply because they can't navigate the hard drive.

      Took some playing around to work out "/cygdrive/c" for c: etc. But working out how to have a bash profile, a home dir, etc, take a lot of time. Great project, but certainly not something you can use to solve an immediate problem.

      If Unix services integrates cleaner, I suppose I'll have to sacrifice the tools.

      It would be nice, though, and certainly possible, if a product could be built on top of cygwin to provide a more seamless experience.
      • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#7976846)
        Several people complained about Cygwin, but yours was the first to articulate a problem - lack of integration with the Windows environment.

        For me, this was not an issue. I installed the complete system, started X11 and some Xterms, and live happily as if I were on a Linux system. The file structures, home directories, and password files were created properly and automatically by the installation. bash profiles went into .bashrc in the normal way.

        It is true that from windows you have to know to navigate to c:\cygwin\home to find the home directories, and from cygwin you have to know the arcane Windows pathnames like c:\Documents and Settings\ ... \Desktop and so on.

        There are also Windowing system wars. I am happy enough using the Windows Window managaer (with the Power Toys setup to give me follow focus). From Cygwin I use some X11 apps (like xv, xterm) and also some Win32 apps (gsview, Word, etc.). I never try to compile Win32 apps from source ... I suppose if I wanted to do this I'd use Visual Studio.

        Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what I'd like Cygwin to do differently. But that's because I'm a *nix user grudgingly forced into the Windows world, not a Windows user. So all the stuff that people whose mother tongue is Windows find familiar, I find strange.
  • by PSaltyDS ( 467134 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:50PM (#7975971) Journal
    This was speculated on in an article [] at Groklaw [], that this was the intent (aside from financing the anti-Linux FUD campaign) in M$ paying SCO for a license.
    • Twist to the story (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:23PM (#7976395) Homepage
      There is an interesting twist to the story if you read the Spat between Novell and SCO [] posted yesterday.

      If you look a the letter on 6/24 from Novell to SCO (partly quoted below) they disputes SCO legal rights to enter into a new agreement with Microsoft.

      As voiced yesterday a lawsuit by Novell against SCO is almost certain. They are currently trying to Audit SCO's records in an effort to bring their ducks in row, and presto. Once the suit over Copyright et al is filed SCO effort to get more money will be impossible. On an aside head over to Groklaw and read about SCO's effort o hire a sales manager for their non-existant IP in Linux.


      It has come to our attention that SCO may have violated these provisions. In particular, SCO reported in a recent securities filing that SCO has established a program to review existing licenses, and enter into new licenses, relating to UNIX and that this effort "resulted in the execution of two license agreements" during the quarter ended April 30, 2003. The securities filing states:

      The first of these licenses was with a long-time licensee of the UNIX source code which is a major participant in the UNIX industry and was a "clean-up" license to cover items that were outside the scope of the initial license. The second license was to Microsoft Corporation ("Microsoft"), and covers Microsoft's UNIX compatibility products, subject to certain specified limitations. These license agreements will be typical of those we expect to enter into with developers, manufacturers, and distributors of operating systems in that they are non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free, paid up licenses to utilize the UNIX source code, including the right to sublicense that code.

    • One of the beefs Novell had with SCO was SCO's deal with Sun and MS about the one time payments in royalties. Both Sun and MS would benefit from not having to pay a per copy royalty. Sun is again offering Solaris x86 as a free download, and now MS is offering SFU for free.

      Would be fun to check out the NFS client - it's a much cleaner protocol than SMB.

  • by heironymouscoward ( 683461 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:51PM (#7975976) Journal
    Why does Microsoft want to support Unix/Linux applications on Windows? It does not seem to make sense. Every deployment of a portable application on Windows creates an opportunity for moving to Linux at a later stage (vis. OpenOffice).

    Presumably the "Unix" services will include extensions that make the migration a one-way affair. Presumably also Microsoft have some killer Unix/Linux applications in mind that they want/need to be able run on Windows. Apache? Hmmm...

    Presumably also the goal is to turn Windows into something closer to what corporate IT centers actually want.

    It reminds me a lot of IBM's drive to include Unix-like features in OS/370. An obvious thing, to make one's OS POSIX-compliant. But all POSIX compliancy drives seem to lead to Linux.

    So... the very first thing I thought when I first heard about this, and the thing I still think today is that this is the first step in the direction of a Microsoft-branded Linux distribution.
  • This is a good thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordZardoz ( 155141 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:52PM (#7975989)
    All anti MS rhetoric aside, this is a smart move for them to make. By making support for POSIX api's freely available, it allows someone to port a unix type app over with a re-compile and perhaps some changes to the make file.

    People like to roast MS for not adhering to standards, among other things. This partly answers that.

    Of course, this does not make MS a "Good Corporate Citizen" any more then donating money to a homeless shelter makes a tobbaco company a "Good Corporate Citizen". But it does show that once in a while, even bad people can do good things, even if the motives are questionable.

    And I have no doubt that Microsofts motives will be questioned here.

    • All anti MS rhetoric aside, this is a smart move for them to make. By making support for POSIX api's freely available, it allows someone to port a unix type app over with a re-compile and perhaps some changes to the make file.

      I agree that it makes it easy to port applications by almost just recompiling. I disagree that it is a smart move.

      This represents how Microsoft has been successfully misdirected. They do not have their eye on the ball.

      The real threat in the short term is not Linux. It is a
    • by jafac ( 1449 )
      You're absofuckinlutely right.

      Look at OS X. Look at the recent, sudden success of OS X - partially due to the massive influx of software from the Unix world. Hell, they're running Konquerer on OS X now.

      But this is just another thing Microsoft can control.
      They ship this free;
      Then development on the alternatives slows or stops. That's Samba. Or OpenOffice for Windows (we'll see an OpenOffice that runs in X off of this SFU kit). etc. etc.

      Then, when Microsoft chooses, they simply break this kit, with a
  • by plj ( 673710 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:52PM (#7975992) he mentions that "very few of our customers are going to have a pure Unix or pure Windows environment".

    Previously, I used to think that at least half of the MS customers or so would have a pure Unix environment. Thanks for enlightening me, Dennis!
  • Freedom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by condition-label-red ( 657497 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:53PM (#7976005) Homepage
    how does the environment compare to Cygwin?

    One is licensed under GPL, and the other isn't....
    • Re:Freedom? (Score:5, Informative)

      by David McBride ( 183571 ) <david+slashdot@dwm.[ ]uk ['me.' in gap]> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:25PM (#7976423) Homepage
      There's a more important architectual difference.

      Cygwin is built on top of the Win32 APIs on top of the NT kernel core.

      SFU is built straight on top of the core kernel; Win32 API variances (which have caused headaches for the Cygwin implementors of years) are no longer factored in.

      Moreover, the core state information (such as process listings and various other things) come straight from the core. It is perfectly possible to send a SIGSTOP or a SIGKILL to Word.exe (a Win32 app) from the SFU universe and watch Word stop dead or die, respectively.

      As well as NFS mounting and export capabilities, SFU also supports NIS and can do various user mappings between the Windows and Unix worlds.

      Beware the default password set for some of these options.

      Memo to self: no service that requires a password for security should be enabled by default with a standard initial passphrase.
      • Re:Freedom? (Score:4, Informative)

        by the frizz ( 242326 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:05PM (#7977854)
        I too liked the fact that SFU has more access to the Windows core. E.g., some per process stuff can be seen via ps and /proc, The cmd.exe shell executes many of the utilities. But still not enough for me to switch kick cygwin off my system. The cygwin bash shell default setup beats ksh.

        Here's some features that would have excited me, but I didn't find in SFU.

        • I was hoping to be able to truss(1) the native windows executeables, but I didn't have any luck with that.
        • A list of file descriptors in use under /proc/PID/fd/...
        • The SFU NFS client did follow symlinks when the target was on the same device, but it didn't seem to follow a symlink to another device. I tried making targets of c:\temp and \\host\share, but even though Windows Explorer could see the target directly, when Windows Explorer browses the remote NFS Network the the symlink target did not resolve. (A trace shows the NFS server returning the right target name to the SFU NFS client.)
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:54PM (#7976011) Homepage
    POSIX environment... C compiler... you know, it should be possible to get my depenguinator [] to work here.

    I'm not sure about being able to write the filesystem image to disk, Windows might not allow that.
  • A smart move (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_crowbar ( 149535 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:56PM (#7976051)

    I hear quite a bit of complaining on Slashdot about Microsoft and their software/business practices. The complaints may have some merit, but I think a no-cost tool that helps integrate Windows and *nix is great.

    Diversity is the only way to survive. If Linux (or any OS) dominates to the extent Microsoft has we all lose. I think Microsoft is starting to see that. They may be simply acting like they want interoperability, but if it makes my job (mixed *nix/windows admin) easier without costing my employer more than I am all for it.

    BTW I have a copy of v3.0 that I got for the cost of shipping. Those who must admin Windows systems but enjoy the tools availble on *nix should definately check it out.

  • They need to start offering "Windows Services for Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000", because this is where a lot of their customers hopped off the upgrade bus.

    C'mon, raise your hands, how many of you are still administering a pair of Windows NT 4.0 domain controllers because Active Directory was overkill for your single-site 100 employee company? I know I am.
  • by Noke ( 8971 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:58PM (#7976081) Homepage
    First it was OpenNT [] from a comapny called Softway Systems [] which provided a fully POSIX-compliant subsystem replacement for NT.

    Later, Softway renamed it to Interix [], and shortly after that Softway was bought out by Microsoft. At that time, the guts of Interix were used to make the 'Services for Unix'.
  • What the heck... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:59PM (#7976087) Homepage
    "The real driver behind this [pricing] change is this interoperability issue," Oldroyd says. "We want Windows to be the best platform for interoperability."

    Since when? Does this mean Windows Whatever'sNext will be able to read Mac and ext2 floppy disks? Does this mean their APIs and protocals will be more open to allow for better communication and cooperation with other platforms?

    Or does this mean "We don't want Windows apps kicked out of Unix dominated businesses, and thus begin a general migration away from Microsoft software?"

    Or is this a very clever move to get Unix houses to set up one Windows box with this on it in order to be able to interface with the outside world better, and thus give them some targets for the marketing department?

    Monopolies aren't interested in interoperability - they're usually out to destroy it. Look this gift horse in the mouth very carefully - Microsoft is not trustworthy and anything they say or do is suspect. This could wind up being just a nice candy piece tossed to the Unix world, but I am forced to wonder what Microsoft is getting from it, and in what situations a $99 fee would stop someone where free is a go-ahead price. Not any big shops, that's for sure. Remember, with any Microsoft move the first rule is to ask what they are expecting to get out of it.
  • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:04PM (#7976167)
    If this comes with a good X server for Windows, it might make it easy to set up a Linux Terminal Server in a Windows desktop shop. That might be a good way for people to get their feet wet.

    Or does this thing only work on Win2k or XP Server editions?
  • by sICE ( 92132 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:10PM (#7976234) Homepage
    1) WSFU is faster (IO/API/...)
    2) WSFU is better integrated with win32 architecture (OLE/ODBC/...)
    3) WSFU make a lot of things easier than cygwin with windows

    BUT, i wouldnt trade cygwin for it, note that i have both installed here. I just isolated what i needed from WSFU and was better than cygwin and added them last in my path. I dont have any preferences, but cygwin is waaay more complete, and you have the +/- the same versions of the application that runs on linux. Same config files work fine, same behaviours (which isnt the case with WSFU), etc.

    For me, WSFU is just a little + to cygwin.
  • This cuts both ways. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:13PM (#7976266) Homepage Journal
    Providing a way to run Unix apps on Windows isn't exactly a threatening proposition. In fact, the open source community has done the same thing -- Cygwin has been around for years.

    If anything, putting Unix API's on Windows provides one more way to write cross-platform applications. Remember, the Unix API's are open standards, so if you write your software to run on them, you've got something that now runs on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. I personally have used Cygwin (SFU would work too) to avoid writing Windows native software. Just load Cygwin, bring over the standard build, tune, and ship.

    Microsoft SFU also provides NFS and NIS implementations on Windows, which I have found useful for introducing Linux and Unix into previously Windows-only environments.
  • A Possible Motive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:20PM (#7976352) Journal
    If Microsoft wanted to change SMB (and lock out SAMBA), they would need some other network file system.

    So, maybe, SFU is being released to allow claim that Microsoft based servers can share with NFS, and that SMB can now be modified to add additional (Longhorn) features, while locking the *nix world out (say, by encrypting the traffic and not telling how).

    SAMBA becomes useless; and if executed properly, Windows shares become completely MS proprietary. Limited access to "competitive" OSs provided by NFS.

    New features available to Windows ONLY.

    If I were doing a strategy for MS, this is the path I would take. Also, ensure that NFS is available for a LONG lead time, and that it runs well.

    But maybe I'm just a paranoid.

  • SFU sucks (Score:4, Informative)

    by medeii ( 472309 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:28PM (#7976461)

    I've got an MSDN subscription at my company, so I was installing and using SFU for awhile. Other posters have noticed that SFU's version of grep is slow, though, so I did a bit of research and I've taken to installing the Win32 ports of the GNU utilities also. There's a SourceForge project called UnixUtils [] that ships a bunch of them in either a zip file (unzip to %systemroot%\system32\) or as a binary installer. They work natively within cmd.exe, so there's no need to use a separate shell as SFU does.

    It is missing a few things, but between grabbing SFU for its commands like ls and cp, and the unixutils package, you get the best of both worlds.

  • The BIG news here... (Score:3, Informative)

    by JKR ( 198165 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:34PM (#7976542)
    isn't the rather poor shell utilities, it's the extensions to the Active Directory schema that allow you to authenticate users on Linux against a Windows 2000 DC using OpenLDAP and PAM. It works very well to give a single sign-on setup in a hetereogenous environment.

    It's marketed as a means of migrating NIS users to AD, but it works even better for LDAP, with suitable libnss_ldap.conf and pam_ldap.conf files. The only previous solution was AD4UNIX which no longer seems to be maintained, and is flaky on later service packs. For us, having this for free is good news.


  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:49PM (#7976796) Homepage
    Why are people all excited about this, say things like "gee, Microsoft is finally feeling the heat from Linux"? This is nothing more than a Linux-to-Windows migration tool!
  • by glenstar ( 569572 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:52PM (#7976836)
    SFU PM: Wow! We had 50,000 downloads of SFU the first day.

    BillG: Great! It looks like we have another winner on our hands. People sure do want that Unix stuff. Oh, wait...

    SFU PM: erm...

    BillG: You're fired.

  • I've used both (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunkirk ( 238653 ) <david.davidkrider@com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:56PM (#7976898) Homepage
    I've used both, SFU more extensively than Cygwin, though. SFU's NFS stuff is flaky. That's just the bottom line. I would much rather export shares to Windows clients with Samba than NFS. (I suppose it doesn't help that I'm not a big fan of NFS, either, but that's just full disclosure. It's the only thing I've seen that can reliably lock up a *nix machine. Now, of course, there are circumstances where you want this, but usually not.) Also, if you want all the features of their command line, you'll have to switch your Windows machine into a case-sensitive mode. It made me nervous to change something so fundamental to Windows. Maybe they'll fix that in this upcoming version; I dunno. On the other hand, using Cygwin is nice, but it's like a big tease. Most of it works like you want. It's just that if you're used to using Linux and ALL of it's tools, you're going to hit the wall pretty quick. (I just ran into this a couple weeks ago, and I've already forgotten what it was I was wanting.)
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:05PM (#7977012)
    Microsoft was very smart... They're offering it for free which is a positive move for everyone assuming the EULA is sane.

    However, they're also making it incompatible with 9x and XP Home meaning that all of the geek hobbyists on here who have a mix of *nix and windows machines and wanted to use it from home might need to upgrade their windows os to use them.

    Microsoft's Site on 3.5 beta []
  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:07PM (#7977029) Journal
    I have 3 windoze boxes on my network atm. My daughter has one, my wife the other - both their primary work/play stations, and I have a juiced up P4 as my game box (that is all it does - the only thing running on it is 'systray', and whatever game I happen to be playing, most likely WWIIonline [])

    I have 3 other machines that are all Linux machines (Redhat - soon to be Debian file server, Debian workstation, and a Slackware network analysis machine).

    I've played with Cygwin, Hummingbird etc. over the years - and found the emulation of the unix environment Kludgey, and not transparent enough for my tastes.

    Basically I wanted a bash compliant shell that was transparent enough to run the standard set of unix CLI tools (ls, ps, grep, df etc...) - but also allow me to kick off native windows and dos applications without switching modes of operation (i.e. type in the path and have it run the application). I did not need to be able to compile binaries - my main purpose for this tool would be to write utility scripts for system administration on the boxes. I wouldn't need remote access (although I might implement that as a seperate capability with freely available tools if needed - outside the scope of my project).

    Then a thought hit me - why not implement this in python? I already have python loaded on most of my windows machines - why not make it universal? Python would serve as the abstraction layer I needed - and provide a built-in scripting capability to boot. All of the unix tools will be implemented in python either as built-ins or as seperate '.py' scripts.

    Additional functionality - such as 'crontabs' would need to be implemented, as well (haven't worked out the details of that yet).

    Ideally, you would drop python and this package on the windows box -- and presto! Instant CLI... And the nice thing about it is that it would be using native windows APIs - so would be faster than some of the emulators that attempt to be a complete source compliant emulation environment.

    I haven't seen any drawbacks, yet. The cron functionality might be a bit of an issue - but it doesn't look insurmountable.
  • by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:25PM (#7977251)
    Am I the only one that thinks MS needs to rename this product. Lets think about it Windows Services for Unix, doesnt that sound like it should be samba.. or something that runs on a unix machine that provides windows services? Really the kit should be called Unix Services for Windows, that makes it sounds like what it is nfs and the rest of posix that windows is missing. The only way it makes sense with their wording is Windows: Services for Unix, but that requires punctuation that everyone has seen fit to drop
  • by memex2004 ( 741539 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:40PM (#7977490)
    We've been using SFU 3.0 and its predecessor for 5 years now to provide our Database Engine and Tools on Windows Boxes as well as our usual Solaris, AIX, Linux, Unixware and SGI. I woudl like to think that by now I am one of the more experienced Interix developers kicking round. I have to say, It's really very good and keeps getting better. MS are moving to being Unix by stealth, SFU is a unix on the NT Microkernal and it doesnt suffer from Win32 issues. Fork works, You can delete a file thats in use (yes inodes work !!), create a new one with the same name and open that in a different process. I've seen Interix 2.0 evolve info SFU 3.0 and 3.5 and I've had MS fix bugs in the allocator part of MMAP within days and release a private patch. Somehow I think there is a little group of diehard Unix lovers in MS working to turn everything on its head the same way Apple got OSX. Anyway waffle over - Try it as a build environment it's geat. What I want to see is Wine on SFU - then All windows apps work over X - whoopee.
  • by Diomidis Spinellis ( 661697 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:24PM (#7978110) Homepage
    Now that you have SFU freely available go download and install outwit []. Outwit is a suite of tools based on the Unix tool design principles allowing the processing of Windows application data with sophisticated data manipulation pipelines. The outwit tools offer access to the Windows clipboard, the registry, the event log, relational databases, document properties, shell links, and the event log.

    As an example, you can change all registry entries pointing to a user's home directory by running

    winreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER |
    sed -n 's/C:\\home/D:\\home/gp' |
    A Usenix technical conference paper [] describes the tools and a number of applications.

    #include "/dev/tty"

  • by Black Art ( 3335 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @06:16PM (#7978786)
    Microsoft is reminding me of a heroin dealer more and more.

    "The first one is free."

    I suggest that anyone who is planning on moving apps to Microsoft check on how much all those additional licenses will cost you. Microsoft is the master of the hidden cost. "Client Access Licenses" for every service you want to use eventually adds up to a big chunk of change.

    And then there is the shifting nature of development in the Windows world. Every year or two it is a different set of prefered developer technologies that you are expected to use. This year it is .Nyet. I can guarantee that it will not be that 3 years from now. (Or it will not be compatible.) They have to have something to keep you buying the latest version. Developers get led by the nose just like anyone else in the Windows world.

    Anyone who ports applications over to Windows either has a fool for a client or is a fool himself.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling