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-- by Joseph C. Panettieri
Two new software packages are blurring the line between UNIX and Windows NT. For NT administrators, the offerings could improve integration between the two operating systems, and ultimately ease migration from UNIX to the Microsoft OS.
Taking center stage is Softway Systems' OpenNT, a native UNIX system environment for NT. The software, developed via a source-code license from Microsoft, starts at about $99 per processor and lets you run UNIX applications side by side with Windows apps on an NT server. You can write UNIX and POSIX applications from scratch for OpenNT or port them from another UNIX OS to OpenNT.
The latest OpenNT release, version 2.0, should be available by the time you read this. It supports POSIX.1, POSIX.2 and ANSI C interfaces; BSD sockets mapped to Winsock; UNIX shells (KornShell, Bourne shell and C shell); UNIX scripting languages like Perl; and various UNIX development tools.
Meanwhile, UNIX is gaining some NT features. The Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO) Advanced File and Print Server (AFPS) 3.5.2 essentially creates a Windows 3.51 server within SCO's UNIX offering, OpenServer 5. That is, it lets PC users share files and printers via NT's core networking protocol, Common Internet File System (CIFS). AFPS (starting at $995 for five users) can also act as primary or backup domain controller for traditional NT servers.
Microsoft (which owns a small stake in SCO) applauds AFPS. In fact, AFPS is based on Advanced Server for UNIX, which was jointly developed by Microsoft and AT&T.
AFPS and Advanced Server for UNIX could actually hurt UNIX sales over the long haul. As Microsoft asserted in a recent marketing bulletin, "As ... customers begin the transition from legacy UNIX environments to Windows NT Server, SCO's AFPS will give them a smooth transition."
Of course, AFPS could also help you migrate from NT to UNIX-an important bargaining chip for customers who aren't satisfied with NT's scalability.