UNIX is a far more complete, robust, and flexible operating
system than any of the operating systems that have gained
market share in the PC domain. Consequently, UNIX's
have been environments with different constraints, priorities,
communities than those common to PC-based environments.
Thus it is only
reasonable that UNIX has been little influenced by technical
dominant in the PC realm.
Times are a-changing, though. UNIX as a workstation
puts it in the hands of the personal user. UNIX's role
as a common
ground facilitating interoperability in heterogeneous
it a natural choice as a server in environments with
networked PCs. The
user's increasing investment in PC tools and skills
pressure to supply PC-like interfaces and applications.
UNIX users and
UNIX vendors can hardly afford to remain, as they once
from and oblivious to the standards in the PC world.
Administrators, in particular, have benefited from
influence: The MS-DOS disk format. Most UNIX implementations
capable of reading an MS-DOS formatted floppy disk.
At least for shops
like ours, this capability is a welcome development.
we aren't a big DP
shop and have never had a 9-track tape drive. Like
installations, we've instead used various cartridge
tape systems fro
backup and relied upon floppies for data exchange.
exchanging data via a UNIX-formatted floppy or cartridge
tape is mostly
a bad joke--there's just too little commonality among
formats. The de
facto MS-DOS standard helps for small files, but larger
exchange remains problematic.
Relief may be just around the corner--again from our
neighbors. A number of prominent backup vendors, many
of whom serve
both the PC and UNIX markets, are now developing support
for the new
System Independent Data Format (SIDF) standard. Originally
Novell, this standard for tape and other media would
exchange of data between PCs, between PCs and UNIX boxes,
between heterogeneous UNIX boxes. I think this standard
potential to greatly simplify an administrator's life.
able to use your UNIX workstation to extract files from
backup of the local Novell server. Imagine having an
request to see records that only exist on backups made
two years ago on
a now nonexistent machine. Wouldn't it be nice to be
able to load the
backup tape into any machine and extract the needed
SIDF promises this kind of interoperability. Perhaps
important, SIDF appears to be capable of gaining the
support and standardization (through an ISO initiative)
to deliver on
the promise. Thus, I encourage you to investigate this
from the PC community. Ask your backup and storage
vendors about SIDF
support. Begin to consider physical media compatibility
as an important
purchasing criterion. Remember, sometimes technology
does make life
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