Microsoft Services for Unix is Faster, and Free

To improve connectivity between Windows and Unix/Linux devs, Microsoft has released an upgrade to its Services for Unix Windows-to-Unix/Linux interoperability software. Starting with the current SFU 3.5 release, the software is now free to all Windows users. Get details on where SFU 3.5 zips up protocol and file performance, and get the free download.

Tags: Windows, SFU, Unix, Interoperability, Support, Customers, Oldroyd,

Microsoft has released an upgrade to its Services for Unix Windows-to-Unix/Linux interoperability software. Starting with the current SFU 3.5 release, for the first time, the software will be free to all Windows users, Microsoft execs said. The free download of Microsoft's Services for Unix 3.5 is available.

"We felt that at this time, the kind of high-performance interoperability was something that should be available to all Windows users with Unix or Linux" in their shops, Microsoft's Windows Server Group director Dennis Oldroyd told IDN. "We found very few customers will be just one flavor of OS -- either all Unix/Linux or all Windows -- so many customers we talk to are looking to have their platforms work together, and they want to be able to leverage their existing investments," Oldroyd added.

SFU 3.5 brings added performance and usability to the core SFU 3.0 release, which won a best-of-show award at its debut at last year's LinuxWorld. Users will find the greatest performance enhancements in SFU 3.5's support for NFS, NIS and Interix tools and utilities.

[SFU 3.0's key upgrades brought devs/sysadmins the ability to unify data-sharing using an NFS client, server and gateway for integrated, cross-platform file systems, letting sysadmins cut the number of systems needed.

In addition, SFU presented a Unix-centric (not Windows-centric) GUI to its admin/support interface features. Through SFU 3.0's integration of Interix tools, SFU 3.0 provided more than 300 Unix utilities and shells to run existing shell scripts with little or no change on Windows, including awk, grep, sed, tr, cut, tar, cpio and a host of others.

SFU 3.5 brings all these SFU 3.0 features forward, adds a few more, and most notably upgrades performance and app support features to let sysadmins better interoperate Unix/Linux with Windows, Oldroyd said.

Technically, SFU 3.5 focuses on interoperability at the protocol layer, he added. With the wide support for TCP/IP and other Internet-driven network support, "the network layer is pretty consistent now across platform," Oldroyd said. But cross-platform file protocol support [such as NFS] is frustrating for customers. "Getting directory authentications to work together [across Windows and Unix/Linux] is another scenario where customers want help," he added. "Multiple directories costs are quite high."
SFU 3.5 also adds:
  • A dynamic registry, which allows administrators to make changes to system settings without a reboot;
  • Support for (P-threads) POSIX multi-threaded applications and portable operating system interface for POSIX threads;
  • New versions of make, bind, sendmail, gcc, gdb, tar and ftp; and
  • The latest X11 libraries (R6.6).

Aside from interoperability, Microsoft also says SFU 3.5 provides improvements that will make Unix-to-Windows co-residence/migration more attractive. Even for .NET-based web services, Microsoft materials stated the company hopes SFU's added performance will make it easier and more attractive for Unix sysadmins and .NET developers to run .NET-driven web services alongside legacy Unix applications, by providing both admin and remote monitoring capabilities in the paradigm/interface they need while the application resides on a single Windows platform.