Tuesday, January 27, 2004

InfoWorld: Unix for Windows: January 23, 2004: By Tom Yager: Application Development

InfoWorld: Unix for Windows: January 23, 2004: By Tom Yager: Application Development "On Jan. 15, Microsoft shipped release 3.5 of SFU (Services for Unix). SFU is not a stand-alone or hosted Unix OS. It is a convincingly Unix-like interactive environment and development tool set that’s transparently integrated into Windows. SFU is a free download. Go get it. You’ll need to register for a free Passport account if you don’t have one, but don’t let that stop you. The new release boosts the performance of bundled tools and compiled apps enormously. The single-rooted emulated file system eliminates the need to specify DOS drive letters. The free download includes the latest versions of the GNU development tools along with support for clustering, Windows 2003 shadow copy, and Unix threads. I’m not reviewing it — I’ll do that very soon — but I do like it.
Microsoft plays Virtual PC 2004 as a tool for running several versions of Windows simultaneously on one machine. Bah. Microsoft’s customers will use the product for its designed purpose: Running one or more independent Unix sessions as hosted operating systems under Windows. You don’t have to reboot, Unix can crash without taking Windows down, and each session runs real Unix (or Windows, if you choose). The virtualized file system allows you to wipe out changes made during a session, so you can experiment without rendering the OS unbootable. And every Virtual PC-hosted OS automatically inherits (through virtualization) all of the devices and networking you’ve set up for Windows. Once again, it gives me exactly what I need. In heterogeneous shops and homes, SFU and Virtual PC 2004 should be installed on every machine.
These two products represent the most important technology to come out of Microsoft in almost a year. They show an easing of Microsoft’s internal barriers to achieving genuine Unix interoperability, and will form the foundation for those who want the freedom to run Windows and Unix at the same time. These products may have existed for a long time, but now Microsoft is working to keep them current and make them more visible."
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