I've done a bit of research on Windows 7 Enterprise to discover some of its new features and to uncover its secrets. From what I've seen so far, Microsoft has provided some interesting Linux-esque features that might accidentally boost Linux adoption as a side effect. The two primary features to which I refer are 7's ability to natively use virtual hard disks (VHDs) and the easy to add on UNIX-compatibility services and applications.

Once Windows 7 users get a whiff of those UNIX utilities and their power, the Linux sell is easy. To enable these utilities, one only has to go as far as the Control Panel and install new Windows features. Included in the mix are a native NFS client, Telnet client, Telnet server and Subsystem for UNIX Applications (SUA). SUA is a rather large download (~500MB) that includes a few hundred UNIX utilities and support programs.

After the customary reboot, you have what is in essence a hybrid system. It falls short of a Cygwin installation by a country mile but it's a step in the right direction. Speaking of Cygwin, I'm not exactly sure why Microsoft just didn't enable installation of Cygwin instead of a small subset of similar utilities. Cygwin's license is unrestrictive enough to allow it but that's the topic of another post, I suppose. A Cygwin installation perhaps makes their operating system too much of a hybrid and it might work a little too well. They (Microsoft) certainly don't want another Windows XP on their hands, after all.

Windows users will soon discover that their system contains some powerful utilities that run directly from the dreaded command prompt without engaging the installed versions of the Korn or C Shells.

When Joe Windows User realizes that he can have a whole system that sports those utilities natively that reboots less and serves more, how long do you think it will take for him to add a Linux computer to his fold? Windows 7 also hits your desk with native virtualization software (Virtual PC), so experimentation is that much easier.

So, be my guest at using Windows 7. You'll like it. But what you'll like most about it are its UNIX and Linux compatibility and related features not common to other Microsoft operating systems.

What do you think of Windows 7 and the ability to do Linuxy things in it? Do you think the temptation to try Linux will be too much to resist?

Votes + Comments
It's well written and raises a lot of interesting questions, and makes us guess as to what's to come.
8 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by MikeAinOz

Its not new. Every single thing you mentioned has existed for 5+ years.

It was like that in Server 2003 R2 (Installed via control panel and ncluded more, even - you could itegrate your AD domains users/groups with NIS, and had an NFS server and tools for UNIX print management)

Edited by jbennet: n/a


I myself have just installed Windows 7 and Fedora 11 on a dual-boot basis on my new box.
I didn't know of the existence of UNIX-like utilities in W7, but I'll surely give them a try.
I had some trouble installing Grub so I made some research about the Windows 7 boot loader. Guess what... I have the boot menu "the windows way" and works like a charm! So there you have another good point for integration to add to the stack ;-)

Edited by shandrio: n/a


And again, you have been able to boot linux using NTLDR since windows XP at least (although it is slightly easier in vista and above).


You may be right. But remember it was not until Linux got more "friendly" that regular windows users started to use it. So everything that gets easier to use (Unix utilities, boot loaders, etc) is a better chance for that technology to get more spread.


Unix Services for Windows isn't new for Server operating systems but this is for Windows 7, a desktop OS, and that is new. To get this functionality before, you had to install Cygwin. There have always been a few Unix utilities for Windows--even in the NT 3.5 days but nothing like this and certainly not for desktops.


My Windows Vista couldn't boot up after Service pack 1 was downloaded. So I installed Ubuntu and have had nothing but joy since. Ubuntu just works and I'm rid of those endless updates.


Unix Services for Windows isn't new for Server operating systems but this is for Windows 7, a desktop OS, and that is new. To get this functionality before, you had to install Cygwin

Again, wrong!

It was available as a freely downloadable addon for XP pro and windows 2000 at least.


If 7 craply emulates Linux, people will think it's not worth switching over to. If they do it well, people are going to say "I don't need Linux - I've got it all in this one here, with lots of support". Few will say "It's unfamiliar, expensive -Linux is cheaper, I want it." Windows users are uninformed and deluded.


Though if people see Windows copying Linux more, (and using Linux licensing), they might think it validates Linux (to them MS are authoritative) - and thus more likely to get it? In any case, good news for Linux, perhaps faster adoption will arise from this.


Its more like marriage. At lot of misunderstanding, forgiving, correction and a lot of making up. It sweet, sour and bitter coming together and it may end up in bitter divorce.


I've got SFU and virtual drives under XP, but I did have to install SFU, on gigh-range Vista and & it comes with it. I think most of this is for Posix compatability. NTFS brought improveed disk services when windows NT was introduced so it's been around for a while. I've got my debian machine mapped as a drive which is handy to testing web-sites.
My debian web site machine is also my music box running amarok, plugged into the stereo, and what I've been trying to get round to is running the amarok front end on the windows box so that I can get remote control on the debian box and then the stereo. One of these days!

I just luve the SFU acronym!




what I've been trying to get round to is running the amarok front end on the windows box

There is a KDE4 port for windows.


Yea I know that but I want to run the GUI client on windows and the back end xine on the debian box, and then audio out of the debian box. In fact audio out on the debian box is my primary requirement 'cause it's next to the stereo. My initial feeling was to use X-windows, I just need to get around to finding a good cheap x-server. I just noticed that there is a new Cygwin/x server which I'll try out, that would give full X-Windows on Windows (is that XOW or X-WOW?), as life was meant to be.

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