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Microsoft: Confirmed purchase of Interix 195

Alain M. Gaudrault writes "My colleagues at Softway Systems (makers of Interix, a UNIX subsystem for NT) have dropped a major bomb on me. They're moving to Seattle (I'll miss you guys!) as part of Microsoft's buyout of the technology. See Interix for more details.For those unfamiliar with Interix, it is a UNIX95-certified platform, hence, a "real UNIX environment". Much GNU s/w has already been ported to the platform, and more is certainly to come. Microsoft wants the technology becuause it acts as an intermediate step to fully porting one's apps to Win32. "
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Microsoft: Confirmed purchase of Interix

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  • RedHat's Market Capitalization is about 7.383 billion according to Yahoo []. Microsoft's is about 497.9 billion and they have lots of money in the bank. Heck, Bill could buy it on his own!
    Seriously, I think that this should be noted in this anti-trust stuff. One of Sun CEO, Scott McNealy's biggest complaints is Microsoft's buying power. Then can buy anybody and anything. How can you compete with that? Linux starts to get their attention so they buy Unix on Windows company. Like that, no sweat. They are way too powerfull and they need to be regulated by the government in some way.
  • Corel is suppossed to be working on enhancing WINE a lot. I haven't heard much about specifics but they claimed that WINE was a central part of getting all of WordPefect Office to run under Linux.
    Perhaps with all their new found cash RedHat could put some serious labor on the WINE project.
  • I've been saying for a couple of months that M$ was going to gobble up some happless company to get their hands on a branded UNIX. I'd still keep an eye on folks like SCO.

    I wonder if all the Interix people going to Redmond are gonna be fitted with those neat-o laser-eye thingies...

  • I have yet to see any compelling applications runnning under Unix w/ X - i.e. applications so much better than their competition (on windows or apple mac) that I would feel compelled to switch. The Gimp is nice, but neither Star Office nor Applixware are so much better than MS Office that I would switch. I do have a number of applications that I would love to run on either the WinNT or Apple (OsX) platforms. As I understand, Interix provides this capability under WinNT. Does anyone know if this is actually the case? I feel that through this move MS is acknowledging the robustness of the Unix model as a server platform and stifling the further development of this model on NT. Shame, really, since NT could be that much stronger by following the Unix path.
  • I have yet to see any compelling applications runnning under Unix w/ X

    Because the best Unix application don't need X.

  • This was unspectacular (NFS server/client, telnet server for NT, maybe a NIS thing, etc) but from the little I used it, it worked perfectly well. Worth installing if you have a lone NT box in your Unix farm.

  • As long as I know Linux is around (since 1995, that's four years ago) I've been reading about wine. It still is rather buggy and doesn't run much software reliably.

    Somehow I don't think wine will ever be a good alternative for running windows programs on windows. Of course you can design your programs to work with wine (like corel is trying to do) but its not the same thing. You can forget about ms office bcause unless MS wants this to work on wine, it will do everything to prevent it from working on wine.
  • With this purchase Microsoft is selling a branded Unix.

    Entertainingly, this means that NT is actually more Unix than Linux is. Oh, the irony!

  • "Bill Gates would probably rather lose all of his money and become a drunk hobo before he gives up on the vision of "Windows Everywhere" ".

    Absolutely wrong. Bill has no pride in this respect, and that is his greatest strength. He was quite happy to admit that MS was wrong with Xenix. Quite happy to admit Win3.x was crap, and move to NT. Quite happy to admit that Blackbird was crap, that the net was important afterall, and that MS would beat Netscape at their own game.

    When/if Bill decides that NT is crap, and Unix was right afterall, he will have a big company meeting, a big press release, and a big spending spree. Then, in 4 or 5 years he will beat every other Unix vendor out there, by doing stuff like replacing X windows with something that works, creating a solid Win32 emu layer, and creating modern development tools.

    Wait and see.

  • I can accept that. I haven't followed the trial very closely
  • notepad has limits in 9x for file size. hasn't been the case in nt since at least 3.51

  • NT has had POSIX built in since day one.

    The person who submitted the article said

    For those unfamiliar with Interix, it is a UNIX95-certified platform, hence, a "real UNIX environment".

    There's more to being "a real UNIX environment" than just implementing the stuff in POSIX.1, which is what the NT POSIX subsystem implements - POSIX.1 doesn't cover all the APIs that one might use in a UNIX application (e.g., it contains no networking APIs whatsoever). Interix also implements the POSIX.2 commands.

  • So much for FUD...

    Computer launch Phase II assimilation.

  • I said it two years ago, Microsoft will buy this company out. Not because their extensions to Microsofts operating system is a good thing, but because Microsoft doesnt have it. And frankly it doesnt matter wheather or not they do, because somebody that wants to run Solaris, will run Solaris. Same be it with Linux. But the irony is that people havent believed me before. Well here you are.

    Now, to the product itself. Or actually to all of you that worry that Microsoft will conquer the market with this thing. Let me remind you that its not the cost of the operating system. Its the source code that makes Linux what it is. Microsoft will never release its code, and if it will, it will still not match that of the flexibilty with Linux. Regardless of Unix95 compliance. Now it does invite NT administrators that are already running NT to run GNU software at their boxes. This is considered a good thing for the GNU generation. So hail the victory! Here she comes!

    Sincerely, Alexander

  • Your probably right. They could also get all the major daemons running and use it as a claim that Unix applications are slower then Win32 applications. As stupid as that sounds to you and me, I am sure some magazine would publish a Microsoft study "proving" it. It continues a classic Microsoft move of providing crippled compatibility. There is no way that SendMail under Interix will beat Exchange. Maybe it did before but now MS can make sure that it doesn't. It reminds me of Dr. DOS, Lotus, WordPerfect, QuickTime, RealVideo, etc. They all complained of this type of underhandedness. It's like a car dealer designing a car that will not run as well with someone elses parts.
    I still worry about Microsoft getting into the Linux distro business!
  • actually most of them are correct.

    There's essentially nothing worth doing that can be done with the Posix.1 subsystem.

    And anyway, it's a stupid way to design an operating system, having posix compliance comparmentalized into a subsystem. You can't manipulate the windows environment unless you use a ($$) X-server, can't utilize the native NT functionality (which is the reason ppl deploy NT in the first place). It's an orphan.
  • what do you mean, HAS?

    Unlike the Amiga, Mac is alive and well.

  • Now, if MS were really smart, they'd focus on going the other way. In other words, they can now claim some UNIX compatibility, and can start to take over roles that UNIX machines always did before *USING THE UNIX TOOLS*. Imagine an NT system running bind and pppd, at your service provider? ick.

    Does it run X? Anyone know?

    Who wants to port a UNIX app to NT?
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:31AM (#1670952) Journal
    I read a long time ago that Microsoft had signed an agreement with Xerox (or was it AT&T?) that they would not compete in the unix market. Would this be considered compitition, as they could potentially offer a unix compatible (laugh) system. If anyone has any more info about the agreement I'd love to hear it, or was it just a passing rumor?
  • Reminds me of something that I saw on segfault:

    MS opens source for NT5. They claimed to have stuffed the source in a few lines and opened half of their source. It looked something like this

    /* Copyright Microsoft Corporation */
    Of course, that was segfault :-)

    (Yeah moderate this down if you like. Whatever)

  • This sounds like Microsoft may be about to use the same tactics it used in the "Java war" here. By now controlling the middle man in the porting of software between Win32 and *nix they can feel free to use a flawed implementation that is flaunted around as the "greatest ever." Then when people begin to encounter problems, Microsoft can just smile, and tell them that it is their *nix boxes that are the problem, and that they should consider moving to WinNT. This looks to be some bad news indeed!
  • What's cygwin looking like these days? I used to use it when I had an NT machine :)
  • I suspect the point is that this might just as well help users make a transition from NT to Unix.
  • by Haven ( 34895 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:35AM (#1670959) Homepage Journal
    if microsoft is trying to port unix programs to NT that could mean that they are taking the right step towards making a more stable operating system (when it comes to an NT and Unix envrionment). I remember a few years ago microsoft wouldn't touch anything that had to do with *nix. I perfect example of this is the Microsoft TCP/IP printing to *nix LPR daemons protocool(sp) was so full of trash and bugs, I had to use third party software to do anything reliably (if you can call anything reliable in NT) between my NT Server and my IRIX box when it came to printing. It wasn't until SP3 that they code was finnaly patched up. We either might see a more stable NT when it comes to and NT and *nix environment, or they are going to go all out like apple did and use a *nix/BSD core for a new operating system (probably Windows 2010). The latter possiblilty is very far fetched, but hell apple did it, and even open sourced the important parts. I know one thing is for sure. Microsoft will never open source anything... not even notepead.
  • I really hope this means it will come with parts of Interix integrated into newer releases of Windows (such as 2000). I would imagine this will help with the interoperability of NT and things like Cygwin32.

    Interix currently has a fairly good product. I used it a while back (it came with another product called Easy Spooler, which was ported from Unix to NT and required Interix to run) and it seemed pretty solid to me. It was also great to have all the good old commands around that I've grown to love from using various Unix systems.

    But, if it was integrated (i.e. you don't have to spend $2000 more per server to get it) with NT, it would be quite a bit easier to port all the GNU programs you can't live without. Anyway, this looks to be a good thing.
  • Here are the possibilities that I see.. 1) This is a sort of play that will allow them to embrace and extend?

    Linux have to become MSU-extension compliant?
    2) It may be a way of gathering some people who know the industry and the code for whatever reasons they might have (to many to list).
    3) Then again, it may be just what the PR guys say, to allow (paraphrase enable) 'all you poor unix guys a chance to catch up.' (paraphrase cancel)
    4) anti-antiFUD (who says we are anti-compatable?)
    5) Lastly, they have nothing to lose and all the above to gain. A win win situation.
    But there is another side to this. Who says the whole limited compatabilty thing has to be a streanth for them?

    I believe it is a matter of perspective. I for one would find it much easier to tell a customer that I am going to put a *nix box on thier network if I could tell them that win2000(nt) was built to take it.

    Lastly I would welcome a real terminal program other than the one they have isued in the past. Man that thing drives me nuts.

  • Hmmm, re-reading my post, I realize I was unclear.

    I see MS thinking of this as a counter-move to things like the POSIX fiasco with DoD. That's silly, they've already burned their reputation. They would be much better off to port things like their DNS implimentation to the UNIX side and embrace-and-extend the UNIX platforms. "Hey, if you want to use fizz-bang-nifty-teabiscut, you'll have to run MS Bind 6.0 on your HPUX box too. Of course, you could just "upgrade" that old PA/RISC HP/UX to, say, Merced running NT"....

    I really do hope they read this. Linux needs better competition. ;-)
  • I actually heard many compliments about NT 3.51 stability that all but vanshed in NT 4. Unfortunately, 3.51 has that ghastly Windows 3.1 interface that I absolutely cannot stand :-(.

    You should try Calmira [], which is a GPLed replacement shell for Win3.1 giving a Win95 look and feel. It works on NT 3.51 too, and even runs under Wine, which is really freaky.

  • fwiw, bind 4.9.7, although officially depreciated, was ported to NT in may of 1998. the isp i used to work for used it as their primary dns. its available from the ISC ftp site here [].


    Keyboard not found.
  • I feel funny defending them, but it's true.

    The example I'm thinking of is the MS Java XML parser. Go get the license [] and have a look.

    It's sort of a reverse BSD license - do whatever you want, but you CAN'T put Microsoft's name on it.

    Give credit where credit is due.

  • Did anyone else notice that they were thinking of releasing their software opensource? I wonder if MS snapped them up to keep about all of us from porting over our favorite toys & wondering why they don't work quite the same?

  • Reminds me of a usenet .signature I saw a while ago:

    "Given enough time and money, eventually Microsoft will re-invent UNIX."

  • goddamn it, I hit submit, not preview.
    I meant to say:
    "What do mean, HAD?"

    Whew got that out of my system :)

  • Microsoft could be preparing for some sort of Unix virtual machine to run within the NT kernel, supporting Unix apps,

    That's exactly what Interix is (except that at least some of it presumably runs in a user-mode subsystem process rather than in the kernel).

    Note, though, that it doesn't "[support] Unix apps" in the sense of running binaries from some flavor of UNIX, as the Interix FAQ [] notes (see "Can I run any of my UNIX applications with INTERIX?").

    And among the OSS community, there would be widespread derision over their apps being used on the NT platform.

    I think Microsoft can live with that (and note that some OSS applications, e.g. the GIMP [], have been ported).

  • I feel like you've hit the nail on the head.
    If M$ wanted true *nix/Posix compliance they
    could have made or bought it years ago (I may
    be a Linux Zealot, but I recognize the skills
    that M$ has at its disposal) -- ergo they don't
    want it. Their inability to compete with the
    Santa Cruz Operation makes apparent that they
    are not going to become a Unix vendor, and would
    sidestep any possibility of being confused with

    They are smarter than to promote a *nix<->NT
    layer capable of allowing the WordPerfect's of
    the world to move easily to Linux, or the
    StarOffice's of the world to move easily to

    Buying this company stifles its freedom to
    develop a useful layer for M$'s competition,
    and allows Redmond to kill the company, grab
    some good in-house *nix consultants, and even
    take a write-off while doing so.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    [Disclosure: I own SCOC stock]

    Hey guys, we can do a lot better than third-hand rumor! Check out the EDGAR database at, "the Fresh Meat of Wall Street".

    SCO 1999 DEF 14A []

    This is SCO's annual proxy statement to shareholders. It lists all entities that own 5% or more of SCO. As of 31 December 1998, Microsoft Corporation owns 12.3% of SCO.

    Sun's not listed here; neither is IBM. IBM does have a joint development project with SCO named "Monterey".

    I've also heard the stories about a non-competition agreement about Microsoft and the Unix market, but again, I don't see any mention of them in SCO's public filings. It certainly doesn't appear on their balance sheet as an asset.

  • [about Microsoft's Java XML parser]
    Well what the bloody hell sucks about it??

    It does suck moderately, based on my experience. If you feed it invalid XML, or an invalid XSL style sheet, it tends to crash with a NullPointerException, rather than giving a helpful error message.

  • This would, however, be a tie-in to RedHat.

    If RedHat were really into free software or something, they'd find a way to buy it, make it open-source or something, and end up allowing *other distros* to carry it as well. And that'd be cool, and a killer app indeed.

    How come I can't see it happening any day soon? :(
  • There is a free NFS server for NT called Soss [], which would probably do the job for lone NT boxes. I don't think you'd want to base your whole network around it however.

  • ..or NTEmacs (now part of the Emacs dist?)

    (Let's not start another Emacs -v- Vi(m) war...)

  • does Linux or Microsoft offer the best value solution in the long-term assuming it is possible to cross-port between the two?

    But this isn't about porting between *nix/NT. It's one-way, from Unix to NT.

  • The package from Cygnus including gcc works with many different unix packages on NT platforms. Sometimes you can just type make to compile the package. It includes a nice bash shell with unix commands and utilities like tar and gzip.

    You still need an X server on your machine to display the window locally. Exceed makes a good stable one but is expensive. I think a company named Star make x-win32 which is free for 2 hour sessions (and supports wheeled mice).

    I have even started an exceed telnet daemon on my NT box. Users could log into a shell account. They could also start X11 apps and view them from the remote machine (no win32 apps though). I did not leave telnet up because of security concerns.

    We didn't explore the this configuration, but it seemed at least partially workable. Watch out for this. M$ can easily release something with some unix functionality rolled into it. A decent free x-server would be nice, and it could be considered part of the operating system...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because at one time or another, an OS required a POSIX layer in order to be used under certain circumstances in gov't settings. So Microsoft threw in a token POSIX sub-layer
  • As has been discussed before, this really isn't surprising. But I suggest that there is something more subtle going on here and that perhaps M$ has something up their sleave. By giving UNIX functionality to NT, they are positioning themselves to elbow in on the UNIX market (obviously). But what are they going to do with this (Internix) in the future? I have always been concerned with the prospect of M$ using GPL'd code for profit, and I believe this to be the doorway in for them. I'm not saying I know what bill and co are going with this, but I bet it is more profound than any of the comments listed here.

    Watch your back people, the great assimilators are on the prowl. :)

    -- Moondog
  • I'm not a kernel hacker or anything so please correct me if I'm wrong. But I was under the impression that Win & NT can never really be stable OS's because they don't distinguish kernel and user spaces like unix does.

    You're wrong, at least for NT - NT has stuff that runs in kernel mode, and runs other stuff (DLL code - think ".so code" if you're used to most UNIXes - application code, and code that runs in, say, the Win32 subsystem process) in user mode; user-mode code doesn't get access to the kernel-mode portion of the address space (unless the kernel decides to grant it that access, which I suspect it might do only for some privileged processes, and quite possibly not even for them).

    Plus you still have to re-boot every time you install new software or change your configurations...

    Not every time - I think current version of NT let you change some network settings without requiring a reboot (I'm curious whether any UNIX code does, say, a bunch of ioctls to find out the network configuration of the box, and can't be told "it's different now, re-fetch that data"), and I've installed at least some applications without the installer suggesting that I reboot.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Having tested both their VMware for Linux and VMware for NT/2000 it is clear they have the hottest technology. Multiple virtual machines open within either Linux or NT running Linux, or Win 95/98/NT/2000. And the price is considerably less than Interix for personal use - $75 through October 7. There are some true advantages for developers including virtual networking within the host, and special file system options inculding read-only, journals, and conditional journals. Running NT and Win98 machines within Linux is astounding. This is a well thought out product. Download the 30 day evaluations. Maybe RedHat should counter the Microsoft move and buy VMWare?
  • Look like interix had trouble getting clients. Their last effort was a possible open sourcing of their work in June. Looks like Microsoft stepped in right when they were going to drop the bomb and offered a bit more for the code than publicity, so now they're a Microsoft subsidiary and not open sourcing Jack. Well at least the suits at Microsoft read LinuxToday. How many potential open source projects never see the light of day because Microsoft buys them out and shuts them down?
  • If M$ wanted true *nix/Posix compliance they could have made or bought it years ago (I may be a Linux Zealot, but I recognize the skills that M$ has at its disposal) -- ergo they don't want it.

    Or, at least, they didn't want it until now. Perhaps they've decided that they now do want it, to try to help customers move rapidly towards a Windows NT-based solution...

    ...wait, it says precisely that in the press release announcing the acquisition [].

    I've yet to see anything to indicate that Microsoft's motivation is anything other than what's described therein; they may plan to kill the product once it's served its purpose, which is to get UNIX sites migrated to NT.

    They are smarter than to promote a *nix<->NT layer capable of allowing the WordPerfect's of the world to move easily to Linux

    This isn't a "*nix<->NT layer", it's a *nix->NT layer - it doesn't "allow the WordPerfect's of the world to move easily to Linux", it's intended to let applications move to NT, and may be aimed primarily at in-house applications rather than shrink-wrapped applications.

  • I'm sure the ever-changing and expanding and undocumented Windows API's have a lot to do with this.

    You know, you always hear about the undocumented Windows API's that are out there? Can anyone actually show me one? Something I can get to compile with VC++? I've never seen a page listing any "ah, here is some odd functions we saw in a debugger we can't find a reference to anywhere..." or anything like that. Has anyone tried to compile a list of these calls or anything?
  • Really? You've bought a copy of Motif?

    I have (SWiM Motif for Linux) but I don't know that many Linux users who have.

    Actually, I've been switching over to NetBSD, because I've grown tired of the imperfect Unix compatability of Linux.

    (I know, I know, just another bit of kindling..)

  • To smooth things out I will state that I like Emacs and vi. Emacs is good when I am doing a lot of coding, and need to reach into the text with search tools, have multiple files open, etc. Vi is good when I am telnetted into the OS/2 box that I run our builds off of from my Win32 box just to touch up a script without walking over to the machine.

    Xemacs has been ported to Win32 machines, though it does a few scary things to the stability of Windows 95 (it makes it worse!!) once in awhile. And of course everybody has cloned/ported vi to run anywhere. I can even slip a copy of it into the target machines at work (embedded OS/2 hardware) and make it run properly.
  • The Gartner Group, the Aberdeen Group, and Burton, they all have reports that confirm how badly has NT proved in the enterprise, compared to NetWare 4.x, OS/2 Warp and various unices. I even had a bunch of interesting links a year ago, should I look them up again?
  • I thought wordpad (not notepad) was a 3-5 line program in MFC; sort of a demo of what you could do with MFC. This would sort of be open source, in a perverse kinda way...

  • I know i'm going to get moderated down for this.

    This is exactly what they're doing.... I got a copy of Win2k RC2, and I put it on since I figured I was going to reformat soon anyways...

    I hate microsoft just as much as any other self-respecting slashdot user, but I have to admit that Win2k.... well... It's not a unix machine, but it's definately not 98 or NT, it actually works, keeps a stable uptime, lets me do what I need to do with the machine, and at least with DirectX it's faster.

    My point is, is that it feels to me that they're actually making a more robust product... and without my having to spend a grand or so to make sure my processor would be fast enough to run it. (I have a PII-350, I'd say it probably runs fine on a P-200)

    Granted, I also felt this way about the 98 RC's (yet I didn't get to test them at home doing 3-day Half-Life map compiles)

  • What a joke! It's like putting a Corvette speedometer in a Chevette!! (sorry for the bad analogy...) But I guess we should be happy that they are trying to move in the right direction.
  • what the hell is he up to??? he wants to take over the world what can we do? anwsers on a postcard please will he try to buy out corel?????
  • We could only hope for a 100% win32 compatible version of linux. Think of the conversions if people who can't get ports of their software could still use it, yet have the benefits of linux.
  • Is there any doubt that 2000 is not based on the 95 codebase? It's clearly NT based.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is the first step in the abandonment of Windows in favor of UNIX. I would like to thank OS geeks everywhere for bringing Microsoft to it's senses. I always knew that one day UNIX would triumph over that toy OS.
  • pretty solid...
  • too bad ibm alphawork xml4j is much superior...
  • Beyond the obvious implications of the buy, this could be an interesting way to prove that Linux is superior technology. Interix announced a while ago that it was adding Linux compatibility into their Unix-on-NT suite. So, whip out those benchmarks. Let's see just how well NT does on Linux territory. Is tweaked Unix Apache slower on NTUnix? Tell the world! GIMP/Linux trounce GIMP/NT? Call the Berst-meister! This could prove to be extremely interesting.
  • i am not sure if this is good or bad , i dont know if alot of ppl want to start porting soft ware to Unix95 . not sure if it is a good thing if micro soft keeps buying up ppl like this. it starts me thinking if this thing is going to take off. realy i wonder if it could be used the other way around though porting windows soft ware over to unix .
    sould we use this system to help in the demises of windows , should we realy want to see micro softs products go down hill.

    gnu seems like a better plan for me pa.
  • I have been predicting that Microsoft would buy Interix for a few months now. Unfortunately it wasn't publicly traded so it wasn't possible to reap a killing from it as an investor.
  • NT was originally something quite layered and vaguely (but not quite) resembling a microkernel. the current versions are *not* something that anyone reasonable would call a uK; not even MS claims taht anymore.
  • question[from someone ignorant about wine]: if the reason windows is dominant is that everyone has written functional apps to the api's, therefore it has WAY more apps than linux, and if third-parties all have access to the same published api's, then why can't wine implement these api's successfully? i mean fine, office might use some hooks that only ms knows but the vast majority of apps (third-party) use only published api's. therefore isn't the unpublished api issue somewhat of a red herring??????
  • Last time I checked, gcc was still very much available on NT along with most of the core GNU tools, a couple of commercial ports of sendmail on NT were available, and the Qt widget set worked very well indeed on NT, albeit not as part of a window manager and desktop environment. (And by the way, NT4's DNS services are provided by a registry-aware BIND, if I recall.)

    Seems like this is a neat and clever way for MS to smooth their transition from NT to a Un*x-family OS for application servers.

    Step 1: Offer an environment for running Unix-style apps under Windows 2000.

    Step 2: Spend the next couple of years migrating or converting core server apps (IIS, Exchange, Active Directory) to the Unix-like side, in some cases replacing them with customized, MS-branded versions of Apache, OpenLDAP, etc. Elevate this layer to full parity with Win32 from a support standpoint.

    Step 3: New release of disk-based NT with a true BSD or Linux kernel at its core, completing the transition to MS-branded Unix. Run "legacy" apps in an emulation layer, possibly even WINE or its successor. Reassign the thousands of engineers who have been previously occupied with the economically dubious task of writing and maintaining a proprietary OS core.
  • This could be a short term attack on Java. I know of a few companies using Java to get cross-platform to Windows. This little *nix on Windows could bring the *nix apps over and stall the ports to Java because they wouldn't be needed. MSFT then slowly cripples the *nix API's (add NOOP's) to get ports to Win32. Java is really picking up from what I see and this could be what MSFT is going after. They can fight the *nix API battle after Java is dumped on the floor.....
    hissss, booooo, NO WAY!
  • Almost any small package that I have tried builds and runs on Interix. Anything that will run, for example, on Linux and on BSD. Applications that are Linux-only are pretty bound to always be Linux-only. Almost anything else can be ported to run on Interix with minimal effort. It uses the GNU C Compiler, after all. In many cases porting simply involves running sh ./config and make .

    Note that you end up with Posix applications, which can be run in textmode at a Posix prompt (various shells are present, Bash is available as source) or as an X application (displayed locally with eXceed, or remotely over the net on any machine with X. Interix will NOT build binaries that can be run at the regular Win32 command prompt.
  • Cygwin32 doesn't do anything comparable. They produce a product that runs on top of the Win32 API, with all the compromises that involves. Softway Systems licensed the NT Source code in order to develop an entire Posix API layer that talks directly to the NT Kernel. I suspect that with some work, you could even set up an NT box to run NT and not have anything at all use Win32 except certain admin functions.
  • No. Microsoft had an agreement with SCO not to compete against SCO when it sold them Xenix. The agreement was for a specified time and it ran out a long time ago.

  • Another, even better option -- Cygnus' Cygwin []. Quite a bit of commonly-used open source software is already ported (most GNU stuff compiles out of the box, but there's lots of other stuff full of Linuxisms that needed to be ported better.) It has the added advantage of being able to run on 95/98 as well, although with substantially fewer features (like file security.)

    In addition, Cygwin seems to still be actively maintained. EGCS is available for it among other things (to be fair, the same guy that ports EGCS to Cygwin also does it for UWIN.)

  • It seems to be slowing but I think is still progressing. There are a few key areas that still need to be worked on. Lack of a good IPC library, for example, is standing in the way of a working port of PostgreSQL.

    Lots of working stuff is ported to Cygwin, though. My favorite site for that stuff is the Cygwin Porting Project [].

  • RE: Symlinks -- if the API could support a symlink, why not add the feature?? Oh, could it be because Micros~1 can't figure out what to call it (can't use symlink... that's a unix term, can't use shortcut...)

    RE: Buggy NFS... If Micros~1 cared about security or not supporting imperfect file sharing protocols, it would have NEVER adopted lanman/smb/cifs (which is a security NIGHTMARE!!), and... how come Windows supported Novell protocols from the beginning, but not UNIX (HINT: Unix incompatibility was a designed-in FEATURE of Windows, until recently when that became unreasonable)

    RE: Trusted version of Linux... I'm not a Linux bigot. I'll use *ANY* unix. If I need the security of a trusted version, I can use special versions of Solaris or Tru64 unix. Use linux where it makes sense. Windows locks you into a single vendor who can change directions and abandon your strategy (witness Alpha) and you're left with no recourse.

    Nothing is perfect, but Windows just can't compete with the collective strength of the Various versions of UNIX offered by Various vendors who cater to various markets.

    Use the right tools for the right task, and don't lock yourself into a single-vendor relationship. That's it, Plain and simple.
  • by austad ( 22163 )
    When you have as much money as Microsoft, you don't have to create your own technology, you just buy it from whoever will sell it to you. Pretty sad really.
  • I suspect the point is that this might just as well help users make a transition from NT to Unix.

    I suppose that's not inconceivable, but I have seen nothing to indicate that this is Microsoft's intent, and interpreting it as Microsoft's intent seems like wishful thinking at its worst.

    If somebody's migrating from UNIX to NT, Interix lets them recompile their existing applications and run them on their NT boxes, until they rewrite them as Win32 applications (as per the press release).

    If somebody's migrating from NT to UNIX, they presumably don't have UNIX applications to recompile; all this does is let them continue to run the applications on the NT boxes after rewriting them, without having to keep around source that can be turned into either Win32 or UNIX applications - helpful, but it doesn't seem as helpful to those folks as it does to folks migrating in the other direction.

  • I've spoken to some people at Interix, not so long ago... at LISA-NT in Seattle... and they were just about to release a new version that had resolved a lot of the early problems, and supported some things that NT has been seriously lacking in, such as versioned libraries.

    It also came with GCC standard.

    They were also talking about releasing all the non-Microsoft code as open source. I guess that's not going to happen now. I suspect there won't be any more OpenNT releases either.
  • ...and they have lots of money in the bank. Heck, Bill could buy it on his own!

    Yeah, they're one of about 10 big companies in the world that have over a billion US$ in cash reserves. Bill himself has a lot of stock, a lot of options and a bit of debt (secured with stock). He personally does not have hoards of cash just kicking around, not 7 bil anyway ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Technically, that's backwards.
    Should be:

    Embrace --&lt Extend --&lt Extinguish
    As in:
    Microsoft embraces Java
    Microsoft introduces MS J++
    Microsoft announces java is dead, use ActiveX instead.

    Mija Cat
  • Microsoft's Java parser freaks me out... open source, written in REAL java (not J--).. its like, you look at it, and you just keep going.. but there is a catch, right? It uses Internet Explorer somehow, right? DCOM? no?
    Well what the bloody hell sucks about it?? It is from Microsoft, it HAS to suck somehow.. my God, don't tell me they released something good.. I think that is one of the signs of the Apocolypse..

    At least, that is what I thought while looking at it. =c)
  • Microsoft today, mumbling something about having every linux developer killed off and stealing their copyrights, announced a linux distrubution. "It was through our brave new move, along with the help from Interix, that we can proudly proclaim the introduction of a brand new wave in computing. No longer does the IT departments have to stress over if they should allow an untested 'volunteer' operating system, or a true stable operating system such as NT. Now they can have compatibility with linux, and the benifits of being a partner with a well established company."
  • and the Qt widget set worked very well indeed on NT, albeit not as part of a window manager and desktop environment.

    ...and not atop X.

    Seems like this is a neat and clever way for MS to smooth their transition from NT to a Un*x-family OS for application servers.

    Or, as stated in the press release for the acquisition [], to smooth the transition from UNIX to NT for UNIX users.

  • *grin* they can't, they have to put a EULA on it somehow..

    I think if Microsoft got into the Linux distro business it would be lawsuit heaven.. I mean, think about it.. tens of thousands of people have developed Open Source software.. and (by my estimates) 98% of them HATE Microsoft.

    They do one thing wrong, they put a typo in the GPL, anything, and they will get sued. People will be reverse-engineering the binaries to make sure there weren't any alterations.. things like that.

    Any any improvements that they make, even if they really ARE improvements (don't ask me, it technically COULD happen) would not be accepted by the Open Source development community - probably people would just start from scratch cloning it or make some changes and split off development from Microsoft.

    In a sports metaphor - Microsoft distributing Linux would be the first time in about a decade they actually had to play a real game away from home.. and they just don't know how to do it anymore. They aren't going to give up the home field advantage - I would more expect them to develop their own, new OS completely from scratch (not basing it off windows at all, starting over completely) over picking up a Linux distribution.

    But then again, I have been wrong all day :)
  • Anybody remember Stacker? They sued MS over patent infringement in the dblspace technology; MS lost with its arm way up to the elbow in the proverbial cookie jar; MS solves litigation problem by buying Stacker.

    Remember Citrix? Citrix licences NT3.x code and develops a multi-user version of Windows NT with clients on DOS, Unix, Windows, Macintosh, and just about anything else. In Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft denys Citrix the right to run in this space. MS creates it's one version called Terminal Server Edition with a license that makes no financial sense to deploy to a client that only runs on Windows. Citrix is not dead yet, but I've seen plenty of obituaries for it.

    I think Microsoft is buying this company because they don't want anybody else tinkering in the low level backend layers. Anybody can write an application for Windows; but, try to write a back-end layer that might be portable and watch out. They push DCOM+ and Network Named Pipes because those don't run on anything but a Windows front-end.

    Prediction: MS will rape and pillage this Interix POSIX sub-system and assimilate both technology and employees into the MS collective where there is no danger of this growing into a platform for NT to encourage any flavor of UNIX.

    Months from now, no one will remember Interix.

  • by FireWhenRady ( 83135 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @12:21PM (#1671045) Homepage
    The Ottawa Unix Users Group had a presentation last year by Stephen Walli, the chief architect of OpenNT (the original name of Interix product). He indicated that it worked by basically replacing the WIN32 subsystems of NT by separate code that was built on the NT HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) not Win32. This allowed Interix to bypass the inefficiencies of standard NT but run Unix software on same machine at same time as Win32 code.
    If Microsoft is buying this technology, it indicates either they want to bury it or that they need the Interix efficiency to gain in the server market.
    Since one of the chief complaints about NT as a server is its Win32 based complexity and lack of efficiency, I would bet on the latter. Trying to bury it would just open the market up for someone else to make software that runs Unix or Linux under NT. It is much easier to port *NIX to NT than the reverse because Unices are better defined and better partitioned. As the WINE project shows, they are lots of hidden parts of the Win32 API, and even MS probably doesn't know all the gotchas.
  • Another excellent free beer editor for Windows text (and HTML) is Notetab []. Emacs for DOS is also available from DJGPP [].
  • by Duke of URL ( 10219 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:41AM (#1671057)
    [humor]Well for their sake I hope they don't opensource notepad. Its their only quality non-buggy product.[/humor]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:44AM (#1671063)
    There is a guy on one of the Usenet Linux advocacy groups that claims that MS has an agreement with SCO that says that MS will not compete with SCO in the Unix marketplace. Supposedly, SCO has listed this agreement as one of its assets in whatever the report is called that a company has to send to the SEC every year. It is also claimed that Sun (and IBM?) have equity stakes in SCO, so that MS couldn't enter the Unix market by buying out SCO because Sun and others would presumably object to the sale. I have never independently verified any of this, nor, assuming that it is true, do I know if it would be an effective barrier against MS entering the Unix marketplace.
  • As a matter of fact, Steve Walli said that they couldn't implement true Unix file hard links but only soft links because of using the NT file system.

    According to Helen Custer's Inside the Windows NT(TM) File System, NTFS does support hard links, in order to support NT's native "contractual obligation" POSIX subsystem; I'm not sure why Softway couldn't do the same, unless they were worried about supporting OTFS^H^H^H^HVFAT, although there's other stuff required by POSIX that VFAT doesn't support, so I'd assume they'd just punt on stuff that the underlying file system said it couldn't support.

  • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:45AM (#1671067)
    Does it run X?

    Yes, it "runs X" in the sense that you can build X applications to run in the Interix environment (although it appears its X11 environment is X11R5, not X11R6); "Interix Workstation", as opposed to "Interix Workstation Lite", comes with an X server and mwm, although the Interix FAQ [] says that Interix X applications should also work with other X servers on NT.

    Who wants to port a UNIX app to NT?

    The guy who ported the GIMP to Win32 [] apparently wanted to do so....

  • Well, I bought a copy of Interix for home about six months ago and have been wondering why it gets consistently ignored on Slashdot. I figured it probably was being viewed as a Bad Thing(tm) by Linux folks since it lets me build, run, and export (for display on any other machine running an X Server) X applications on my NT box. That means Motif(tm) and not just free attempts at Motif compatability. It was expensive (about $400 I remember) but pretty cool stuff. The GNU C compiler on NT, and not just a Win32 kludged version (see Cygnus for that)

    A few months ago Softway Systems even put out a query to see if there was support for them Open Sourcing Interix. I imagine it would have been impossible, though, as they signed the NDA and were privy to the NT source code in order to develop their product (Interix talks directly to the NT kernel, and plugs as a replacement for the crippled Posix subsystem that MS came out with)

    I have plugged in Linux/Unix applications as source code on Interix and had it just build and run flawlessly. Just like on a Linux system, explode the Tarball, run "sh ./configure" on it, then build using the resulting Makefiles. I believe I read on the Interix website [] that X11R6 has been ported to Interix. The full version comes bundled with Exceed (and Motif, etc.) in any event.

    Interix is pretty cool stuff if you're running an NT system and want fairly good Unix compatability. I suspect Microsoft will be bundling it (or portions thereof) with Windows 2000. I wonder if I'll get any sort of deal for being a registered (paid quite a bit for it) Interix customer?
  • I certainly agree that Microsoft would have a real uphill battle promoting their own Unix system.

    But don't assume that Microsoft will use a single strategy. They have enough money and people to send one division off to capture the Unix market while another develops NT in competition to it. Especially if they hire/buy a third party with some actual Unix experience to quietly do the work for them on the side.

    If they do enter into the Unix market itself, rather than thru some form of emulation, I think it unlikely that Linux will be the vehicle. Why not take advantage of the natural ideological split in the open source community and fracture it with a BSD distribution? The BSD license allows them to immediately relicense with their usual EULA, and now they don't even have to mention Berkeley. It even runs Linux binaries and comes in three flavors: secure, portable, and compatible. What really hurts Linux is that it's a *very* good OS, and much harder to argue PHBs into switching away from.

    The result of this could be that everyone has much better software that's free beer, but the open source movement is left with nothing better to do than write programs and drivers for Microsoft's omnipresent BSD. Its a better future than the present, but not where I'd like to go.
  • Nobody that I know lives in Notepad. You just register a copy of Textpad [] and tell it to take over all of Notepad's extensions.

    It's a fine text editor for Windows. I first found out about it because Sun was bundling a shareware copy of it on their Java Developer's Companion CD.
  • I have a theory regarding Microsoft's moves here. They buy a random software company - then sit back and read Slashdot for the following day.

    Then they collate all the conspiracy theories from the super geeks that read /. and use them to formulate a super plan to screw Linux!

    "Open Source" World Domination if you like - all the members of the /. community get to contribute. :o)
  • by bkeeler ( 29897 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @10:52AM (#1671100)
    I think they bought this product to kill it.

    I downloaded a demo of it quite some time ago, and it was quite impressive. It was called OpenNT then, though.

    It essentially chucks MS's broken POSIX layer out and replaces it with a less broken one. It seemed to work OK, though it was kinda bare-bones. No decent shells. It felt sorta like being thrown back to SVR3 days. No symlink support either.

    It represents quite a threat to MS though. After all, I have a choice of writing a Win32 app and only being able to deploy it on MS platforms, or I can write a UNIX/X app and deploy it using a porting layer like this product.

    I think MS are out to kill the product then, and thereby reduce the number of cross-platform porting options by.

  • He indicated that it worked by basically replacing the WIN32 subsystems of NT by separate code that was built on the NT HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) not Win32.

    Are you certain he said that it was built on the HAL? The impression I had is that it's built on the native NT system-call API [], just as, say, subsystems such as the Win32 subsystem are, and just as the core API libraries (e.g., kernel32.dll) are, and just as some executable images that come with NT are. See, for example, Softway's "The INTERIX Solution" white paper [], which has a diagram labeled "The Interix architecture" showing the Interix and Win32 subsystems running atop the NT kernel (although that diagram doesn't note that some Win32 APIs are apparently built directly atop the kernel, in the sense that some routines in, say, kernel32.dll directly make system calls; I think one of the editions of Inside Windows NT says that ReadFile() and WriteFile() don't pass through the Win32 subsystem process - perhaps some of the Interix library routines implementing the UNIX API do the same).

    Building it purely atop the HAL would mean it couldn't access files on the file systems available to Win32 applications, say, as the file system and device driver code inside the kernel isn't part of the HAL.

  • One of the groups I supported at AT&T Research authored something similar to this a couple years ago, UWIN

    Dave Korn of ksh fame is the main man behind it.

    For yuks we benchmarked it against an identical (hardware wise) Linux system and the Linux system trounced it. Remember, you still have to go through the NT kernel and all its numerous security checks and other bloat to do system calls. This was in '96 btw, things may have changed.

    I would'nt worry too much. Worry when Microsoft starts selling its own version of Linux, albeit not open sourced and with more "features". Like a 100% functional implementation of Win32.

  • I would say that Microsoft is more interested in actually ENCOURAGING more companies like Interix... They want to show that the high-end UNIX apps (3D rendering and modelling program, industrial layout programs, etc.) that have been developed for years and years will not have to be rebuilt from the ground up, thusly increasing the market for NT. The conversion tools market is a relatively small market, and I think MS has more interest in encouraging it to grow, and thusly giving the illusion that this growth is because many companies want to port to NT from UNIX, because so many more people like NT over UNIX! (See where the MS marketing spin comes in?)
    Matt Singerman
  • by LL ( 20038 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @11:04AM (#1671120)
    Theoretically, if Unix systems can be adapted to emulate Windows (WINE, Wabi, etc), then Windows can be extended to run Unix subprocesses (whether in a shell or subkernel), especially if the source code is widely available. Given Moore's Law and assuming a factor of 100% overhead, then you should be able to execute today's programs with comparable performance on cutting-edge processors in 2 years time (which should please certain chip-makers). An ascetic might disprove of the bloat but then storage is reducing in price even faster than CPUs. Given the shortage of human talent and that software development is the time consuming component, then it makes financial sense, even if you have to fork out thousands for a faster CPU.

    Given two equivalent OS markets, if it is easier to port from one to the other than vice-versa, then over time the asymetric flow will benefit the lower cost solution (think game theory, think thermodynamics and the flow of heat from high to low regions). As this is a structural shift (ignoring any short-term pricing tactics), it will only become obvious in the long-term.

    As others have noted, Microsoft is composed of some very smart people, savvy managers and ... ummm (yeah) .... zealous and dedicated marketeers. The question to the wider IT community should be does Linux or Microsoft offer the best value solution in the long-term assuming it is possible to cross-port between the two?


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