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SubjectRE: linux on nt.
I have Softway's OpenNT running on my NT Box.  It is an attempt to provide a
functional POSIX subsystem to NT (Microsoft's supplied POSIX subsystem was
pathetic), capable of running unix command, utilities, and shell programs, with
header files and libraries to allow the porting of Unix software to run on NT's
POSIX subsystem using Microsofts Visual C++ compiler. The goal is to have
OpenNT certified to Spec95, and can be eventially bid as UNIX on government
bids and proposals.

It seems to work fairly well, the shell is a port of pdksh, which is a vast
improvement over the moronic DOS shell. It will execute both POSIX and Win32
commands from the shell. The last I looked, tar (well pax), could not address
tape devices, a serious deficiency for cross platform operability. I have not
been successful in porting software to OpenNT, though to be honest, I didn't try
very hard.

The architecture of WindowsNT has always allowed subsystems such as POSIX,
OS/2, and Win16 riding on top of the NT executive layer, using the Win32
subsystem to handle the user interface.

There are alternative to the approach taken by Softway System, which may give
more functionally, albeit using the Win32 Subsystem, not the POSIX subsystem.
One is Mortice Kern Systems MKS Toolkit, which provides a set of Unix commands
and utilities (including a working TAR, as I understand) running of Windows
3.1, 95, and NT systems. This is commercial, and the last I checked, more
expensive than the OpenNT Command and Utilities. The other is an effort to
port the entire GNU set of compiliers, commands and utilities to run on
Windows95 and WindowsNT. This effort is GNU-Win32 project, under the
leadership of Cygnus Software, a commercial supporter of GNU software tools.
This is free for the download, go to for the details. It
is significant to note that this effort started on Linux, cross-compiling to
Win32 until a self-hosting compiler could be built. A number of major packages
have been ported. It should be noted that this compiler produces executables
running on the Win32 subsystem, *not* the POSIX subsystem, and therefore cannot
take advantage of the POSIX NTFS extensions that OpenNT can.

Having a little familiarity with the NT architectural concepts, I think it would
be close to impossible to implement Linux on top of WindowsNT in a way similar
to MkLinux. Although NT uses a micro-like kernel, with additional system
and modules making up the NT Executive, the Win32 Subsystem must be present in
memory at all times, providing the GUI and coordinating I/O with all the other
subsystems. I would think that an "NT Linux" would have to be subsystem based,
similar to OpenNT's POSIX subsystem, for it to work, and would have to be
implemented to talk to the Win32 subsystem.


On 18-Feb-97 Kao Moua wrote:
>i came across a press release that a company (Softway) will be developing a
>unix process for windows nt.
>is this a possibilty w/ linux?
>how different is this from the mklinux project? also are the mklinux
>modifactions part of the current kernel? or are they a seperate branch now?

David R. McGown -o-O-o- LINUX INSIDE!
Home: (703)683-1599 206 Adams Ave ALPHA GENERATION!
Work: (703)416-1240 Alexandria, VA 22301

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