Microsoft tool furthers Unix-Windows integration

In keeping with its Windows 2000 integration theme, Microsoft has released its Windows Services for Unix 2.0.

The software, designed to help users integrate Win 2000 with Unix systems, provides file system support, shell and scripting languages, command-line utilities and integration with Active Directory for centralized administration.

The message, however, may be as much about migration as it is about integration. Services for Unix 2.0 (SFU) allows users to migrate Network Information Services (NIS) - the Unix naming service - to Active Directory. The migration of user identifications allows the administration of Unix users from within Active Directory, giving Microsoft an important user-management role in the Unix environment.

"The bottom line is that Unix users are not replacing their systems with Win 2000," says Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with IDC, a market research firm in Boston. "So Microsoft is trying to elevate the status of Win 2000 in those environments by offering integration. If Unix has to rely on Win 2000 for directory data, it helps pull the status of the Microsoft operating systems up by its bootstraps."

But SFU also provides software to join Unix and Windows, which will make it less painful to run the two operating systems side by side.

Short of migrating Unix users to Active Directory, a password synchronization feature in SFU allows users to have one password for both operating systems.

SFU 2.0 includes the Gateway for Network File System (NFS), the Unix file-sharing protocol. The gateway allows Windows clients to access Unix file systems without having to install any software on the client.

"The gateway translates Server Message Block [a Windows file-sharing protocol] into NFS so files can be shared across systems," says Ron Cully, senior product manager for server and infrastructure marketing at Microsoft.

Microsoft also has included ActiveState's ActivePerl 5.6, which lets users automate network administrative tasks by running Perl scripts natively on Win 2000.

A telnet client supports character- and script-based remote access and administration. SFU 2.0 now has 60 Unix utilities that run natively on Win 2000.

SFU also can be used in conjunction with Interix 2.2, which is available with Win 2000 and allows Unix applications and scripts to run on Windows. Microsoft plans to make Interix a core part of SFU later this year.

Services for Unix is priced at $149 and runs on Win 2000 and NT.

The software also runs on NT Terminal Server and Terminal Services for Win 2000 but requires an Ethernet, a token-ring or an FDDI adapter.

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