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.