Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sharing Files and Applications Across UNIX and Windows Machines

Ways are available for accessing Windows files and applications from within the UNIX operating environment, or for accessing UNIX files from within the Windows environment. One such way is to use a TCP/IP utility such as ftp to transfer files from one machine to the other. A second way is to use a Windows-based application that is an enhancement of ftp to perform a file transfer from one machine to the other. A third way is to treat a remote UNIX file system as though it were local to your Windows PC network, via a product such as Samba. A fourth way is to set up a virtual network among different machine environments using Virtual Network Computing (VNC). This section discusses each of these methods.

Accessing Your UNIX Files from a Windows Machine

Many computing environments include machines running Windows and UNIX together. When you work with both, you may need to transfer files from a Windows system to a UNIX system or from a UNIX system to a Windows system. You may also want to log in to a UNIX system from your Windows PC to access files using terminal emulation, which was discussed previously Or you may want to share files on Windows machines and UNIX machines. This section describes some capabilities that provide Windows-to-UNIX System networking.

Transferring Files from Windows to UNIX Using ftp

One of the primary reasons for connecting your Windows PC to a UNIX machine is to transfer files between the two. You can send files from your Windows PC to your UNIX machine, and vice versa, by using one of the commercially available packages such as WS_FTP on your Windows machine WS_FTP is a software package interface to the Windows TCP/IP service, called WinSock (for Windows Sockets), that allows you to use a Windows interface to perform FTP operations from one machine to the other. You simply locate the source file on one machine, move to the appropriate directory in which you want to place the file on the other machine, select whether you want the transfer to be binary (as for program files) or ASCII (text files), and select an arrow showing in which direction the transfer is desired. WS_FTP Pro supports long filenames for Windows. You can get WS_FTP or WS_FTP Pro directly from the vendor, Ipswitch, Inc., via the web at http://www.ipswitch.com/.

Another way that a Windows machine can share files with a UNIX System computer is via a simple local area network connection. Using such a configuration, the Windows machine can be a client of the UNIX system, which acts as a server. This allows Windows to share files with UNIX systems using facilities such as ftp.

A third way exists to share files between Windows machines and UNIX machines across a network. Both Windows and UNIX allow you to share files using the Network File System (NFS). One useful feature of NFS is that you can set up the system to allow a machine that is acting as a file or print server for a client machine to become a client itself, accessing resources on another server. This resource pooling concept makes NFS a powerful file sharing environment. NFS implementations for use on a Windows machine can share files with a UNIX machine, and versions that run on UNIX machines can share files with Windows machines. The implementations for both UNIX and Windows machines are generically called PC/NFS.

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