RealTime IT News

Interix Enables Internet Apps on Multiple Platforms

Softway Systems Inc. has released Interix 2.2, a complete Unix system for Windows NT that not only runs Unix and Linux applications, but enables programmers and Web developers to run Internet-based applications on native Unix while still based on a Windows NT machine.

It's not an emulator, either. Interix is a separate subsystem that runs under the Windows NT microkernel. It provides access to the usual 300+ Unix commands and utilities, as well as multiple shells; languages such as perl, Tcl, and C; X Windows (X11R6.3 server); and the OSF/Motif 1.2.4 window manager and libraries.

More than that, it implements BSD sockets and Berkeley networks services, including telnetd, inetd, and rlogind. That means that you can have multiple simultaneous user logins, with full Internet-enabled access to applications via X Windows or the shell. That's pretty good, because under vanilla Windows NT there is no way to have multiple users, other than shared network access with Microsoft Windows Networking, or via dialin RAS. And Interix works with Windows NT security and administration features.

The possibilities and implications for Interix are many. You can run Windows NT as a server with full Microsoft capabilities, yet use Apache as your main Web server...and do it all on relatively inexpensive PC hardware -- or use Digital Alpha-based workstation hardware if you want. You can program, configure, and administrate Apache directly under Unix...remotely, if you want. You can use the rich Unix command set to add functionality to your Windows NT server. Best of all, you no longer have to choose between Unix and Linux and Windows NT!

I saw an impressive demo where X Windows clients were running side-by-side with Win32 applications, and images were pasted directly from X Windows (running on Interix) into a Word document (running on NT). The response was instantaneous, and not what people have come to expect from "Unix-ported-to-something-else" systems. Even then, I wasn't completely satisfied until I saw the Windows NT task manager, which displayed the facts that Interix not only wasn't a memory hog, but wasn't a CPU hog either!

Except for the fact that each Interix process shows up separately -- and you can run a lot of them -- the memory and CPU requirements were extremely minimal. I was told that Softway Systems runs their entire Web site on Apache under Interix under Windows NT, serving hundreds of thousands of hits per month easily on a small machine, and rarely reboots for any reason.

To listen to an audio interview about the product, click here.