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Vista's Limited Symlinks

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the link-this dept.

271

An anonymous reader writes, "Symlinks haven't really been added to Windows Vista. It seems that the calls to the Windows Vista symlink API only occur during the creation of such files or when accessing them from Windows Explorer. What this means is, you can't access symlinks from another OS. To be fair, you probably didn't expect to be able to dual-boot into XP and suddenly have access to the symlinks you created on the Vista partition earlier that day. But then again, you probably expected to be able to access these symlinks through a network share/UNC path or as files on a webserver. But you can't." From the article: "Clearly, Vista's symlink API isn't complete — hopefully this is something that can be patched via a hotfix and that we don't have to wait for Fiji to get something as simple as UNC support built in."

cancel ×

271 comments

Broken Window syndrome (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902534)

Time to call in the code inspectors.

Only on Slashdot... (5, Funny)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902850)

Only on Slashdot can a first post be redundant...

Shorter titles are Sweeter (5, Funny)

Hexstream (892806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902536)

Vista's limited.

Shortcuts are nothing new (0, Offtopic)

Electrode (255874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902560)

This sounds like the "shortcut" feature that's been around since Win95. Have they actually implemented something new here, or just given some old junk a new name?

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (5, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902652)

No, what is being discussed here is links, e.g., creating an additional filename referencing an inode.

http://win32.mvps.org/ntfs/lnw.html [mvps.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_symbolic_link [wikipedia.org]
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=34 1355 [google.com]

NTFS does support links, but as usual from Microsoft, it's half-baked and only the bare minimum required for POSIX compliance was implemented. From sysinternals (now a Microsoft site) you can download a utility for manipulating NTFS links, or you can install the free Services for Unix (again, from Microsoft's web site) to get the M$ version of ln.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (1, Redundant)

wesnerm (676133) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902676)

Your information about MS half-baked implementation of links only applies to Windows XP. Vista introduced true UNIX-style symbolic links in addition to the junctions introduced in earlier versions of NTFS. The new links were incorporated from Windows Services for UNIX. See my posts on Vista Symbolic Links from a month ago. http://wesnerm.blogs.com/net_undocumented/2006/10/ symbolic_links_.html [blogs.com] http://wesnerm.blogs.com/net_undocumented/2006/10/ symbolic_links__1.html [blogs.com]

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (3, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902776)

Vista introduced true UNIX-style symbolic links

The article is about how it doesn't.

don't use NTFS (5, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902832)

Ext3 has great symlink support ;)

Try this [fs-driver.org] and a ext3 file system. I have all my Documents and the whole user directory on an ext3 and it works great. I can also access it from Linux if I want...

Re:don't use NTFS (5, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902882)

Is it possible to run all of Windows on EXT3?

Re:don't use NTFS (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903048)

AFAIK, XP refuses to boot from anything other than NTFS or FAT32(/16?). The NTLDR probably doesn't recognize anything else.

If they would have kept their original ideas (2, Informative)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903078)

I remember back from the beginning of 90's, around the time when Windows NT 3.11 came to markets, that vision behind NT was that it would be as modular as possible and allow swapping of lots of components beginning from the kernel to file-system. This was actually reported in lots of computer news papers, but it seems from now that it was just hype and hopeful wishes. Now it seems that the code base of NT and it's successors is so mingled that trying to swap components from it would make the system die in a split second.

Re:If they would have kept their original ideas (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903336)

There were very many good ideas about NT. Microsoft either actually were planning to deliver these features, but somehow didn't manage, or they deliberately misled people so that these people would wait for NT, instead of buying a competing OS. Similarly with Vista: they promised many great features, but almost all of the features I've seen people raving about have been dropped in the meantime.

Re:don't use NTFS (1)

swarsron (612788) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902922)

Can you give us an impression of the performance? I found nothing in the docs on this page

Re:don't use NTFS (3, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903080)

Subjectively it works great for me, I copy large media files and visibly it works no slower than a corresponding NTFS or FAT partition did. However I did not benchmark it exactly so it could be slower. Shoot the author an email and ask him, nobody knows the internals of the driver (and the possible speed penalties) better than them.

The only thing I would be worried is corruption not speed. I have never had problems, but I would not put a financial database on it either, just because it is somewhat new and "experimental"...

Re:don't use NTFS (4, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903114)

my Documents and the whole user directory on an ext3 and it works great

Good that it does, but you shouldn't advertise it as being true ext3 since it isn't. The ext2 ifs windows thing doesn't support ext3 journaling, it just treats the ext3 volumes as if they were ext2.

Point me to a true xfs windows driver and I'll be happy.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902944)

No, what is being discussed here is links, e.g., creating an additional filename referencing an inode.
That would be a "hard link". Grandparent was right, sym(bolic) links (unix "ln -s") are like shortcuts: rm the symlink and you don't erase the file it was linking too (whereas you would if the link was referencing the same inode). The only difference is that Windows Vista now implements symlinks directly in the filesystem instead of through .lnk files.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (2, Informative)

listen (20464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903172)

If you rm a one link to an inode, (or close a file descriptor), it reduces the inodes usage count by one. When the count reaches zero, the blocks referenced by the inode are marked free. The behaviour you describe would be utterly horrendous.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902826)

Shortcuts [wikipedia.org] are ill-conceived "placecards" for files and executables; like a road-sign, they can become outdated by changes to the target file and don't necessarily reflect any relevant properties of the target. The Windows95 implementation marks the change from a centralized database of "links" on the system to independent, "shortcut files". Neither implementation was directly linked to the filesystem.

Symlinks [wikipedia.org] are directly tied through the file-system (not through a secondary API); in my analogy, a symlink is more like GPS navigation, it takes you all the way to the target.

Best-in-show would go to MacOS for aliases [wikipedia.org] ; more like a portal to the target, and if the target moves, the alias corrects itself.

In effect, the Windows-style "shortcut" is a complete dupe of *nix symlinks, (which came first) only bastardized and "extended" by M$ engineers. The fact that MS-DOS (ergo, Windows) used FAT file system negated the possibility of using symlinks. The data-structure was so simplified, there was no room left for advanced tagging or linking mechanisms. (already present in 'ext' at that time)

It's been years since MS bought several (disputed) Unix patents from SCO [wikipedia.org] , and it's apparent they're still not making anything useful of those. Another case of wrecking already-working code for the sake of thumbing their noses and saying "It's original code! You gotta pay us for it now!"

Any wonder why they named it "shortcut"?

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (3, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902954)

Symbolic links [wikipedia.org] can also become outdated if the target moves. It's hard links [wikipedia.org] that can't.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902986)

Microsoft didn't buy the "patents", they "licensed" them. The only funny thing is that SCO owned (and maybe still does) only one patent, and it has nothing to do with operating systems :-P Neither SCO nor Microsoft ever claimed that Microsoft actually purchased patents, nor does the Wikipedia article you linked to.

The license covered Unix code as well as far as I can tell, most of which is in the public domain, and the remaining bits owned mainly by Novell and other parties.

Re:Shortcuts are nothing new (2, Informative)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903270)

It also sounds like a puppy granting wishes but that isn't what the article is about.

That so called "shortcut" feature that has been around since Windows 3.1 isn't a 'link [wikipedia.org] ' as it works on POSIX complaint systems. It is a shortcut that gives the user - not the computer - a quick way to access a directory. It cannot handle I/O functions.

obligatory quote (5, Interesting)

laurent420 (711504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902574)

"Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." -Henry Spencer

Re:obligatory quote (4, Funny)

sco08y (615665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902688)

"Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." -Henry Spencer

And those who understand Unix wrote the Unix Hater's Handbook...

Re:obligatory quote (3, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902812)

No. Those who understand Unix use ... Plan9! /ducks

Re:obligatory quote (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903194)

You're right there!

symlinks suck

per process namespaces rule

go glenda

Re:obligatory quote (1)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903180)

And those who understand Unix wrote the Unix Hater's Handbook...

No, they're just Lisp users. They're like humans, only their brains are inside out.

Re:obligatory quote (4, Funny)

finity (535067) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902746)

If you reinvent Unix poorly, does that make it a decent OS?



Laugh.

Re:obligatory quote (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902902)

Nope, Vista sucks.

Re:obligatory quote (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902760)

And those who understand Unix moved onto Plan9.

Obligatory rebuttal (5, Funny)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902794)

"A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire.

Re:Obligatory rebuttal (3, Funny)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902928)

"Bullshit! Witty sayings are the very essence of wisdom, and I should know." -- Oscar Wilde

Re:Obligatory rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16903304)

"You're just making these quotes up, aren't you?" -- James T. Kirk, stardate 44094.5

Re:Obligatory rebuttal (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903324)

"Uncyclopedia doesn't count." — ettlz

Re:obligatory quote (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902912)

"Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." -Henry Spencer

Isn't that the definition of Linux? Or was that, "Those who can not afford UNIX..."

(ducks and runs)

Neosmart's limited servers (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902606)

PHP has encountered an Access Violation at 7C8224B2

Re:Neosmart's limited servers (1)

TheShadowzero (884085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902738)

Maybe they tried to symlink to the article...

Re:Neosmart's limited servers (1)

Computer Guru (967408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902808)

I'm the administrator @ NeoSmart Technologies.... It's not a IIS failure, it's a PHP bug. View all links related to this particluar bug in PHP 5.1.6 The site will be back up soon! http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20 4522 [vbulletin.com] Damn PHP......

You just have to buy the upgrade.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902614)

Let's get real. If the OS was perfect nobody would buy the next version. I bet that 80% of purchases are made by people that secretly hope there's finally a version of Windows that just works.

[and there's of course the not-invented-here syndrome - maybe symlinks are GPL-ed? :-)]

Re:You just have to buy the upgrade.. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903130)

I think you're statistics is completely wrong. That 80% would probably rather be "by people who buy a new computer".
Also you need to define "just works" -- you seem to mean feature set perfection, competing operating systems don't have that either, either in features or lack of bugs.

"Links" are not necessarily a fs feature (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902618)

... not when the ability to successfully resolve something may depend on things handled by the directory/metadata structure, with tagging that is indeed OS-specific.

MacOS has had aliases [wikipedia.org] since System 7 and they're far more useful than a unix-style symlink ever has been for me -- in part because everything that needs to open a file on the Mac uses the MacOS APIs. POSIX is "closer to the metal" and therefore pays a price in lost features of abstraction.

If you want Unix-style utilities to work with the new Vista symlinks, then patch the damn copy of "ls" yourself. And then submit it to the FSF.

Re:"Links" are not necessarily a fs feature (1)

TheShadowzero (884085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902712)

If you want Unix-style utilities to work with the new Vista symlinks, then patch the damn copy of "ls" yourself.
Try that again. The command to create symlinks is ln (link), not ls (list).

Re:"Links" are not necessarily a fs feature (2, Insightful)

MORB (793798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903278)

POSIX isn't supposed to be closer to the metal than the native OS api. It's supposed to be a standard, non os-specific way to access files.

It's the job of the OS makers to provide a POSIX implementation that works on top on the native api. You'll find that developers writing cross-platform apps are not fond of having to conditionally use platform specific code, especially in situations like file io that has been standardized for ages.

Apparently... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902650)

You can't squirt files across OS's yet.

Yeah, sure. (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902670)

Link, please.

Re:Yeah, sure. (1)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903008)

It will appear when you use Windows Explorer. ;)

To be frank? (1)

thombone69 (771957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902678)

A whole LOT of things about Vista are incomplete! (Like, perhaps, Vista itself?)

Re:To be frank? (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903070)

A whole LOT of things about Vista are incomplete! (Like, perhaps, Vista itself?)


So this means that Windows still isn't ready for the desktop? Perhaps the next version after Vista then...

Re:To be frank? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903168)

Reality check: I don't hear large crowds of desktop users ask for proper symlink support.
In that case, proper Windows software (including game) compatibility is more important.

Same ol' show (3, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902686)

A couple of days ago, the ranting of some MS manager about interoperability, here on slashdot. But when it's time to ship, having working symlinks (rocket science apparently) for basic interoperation purpose is not there. Same old Microsoft, expect same old frustrations with Vista.

Fiji? (0, Offtopic)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902704)

I didn't know outsourcing had extended there. Apart from the occasional disagreement between the government and the military, it seems a nice place to take a job...

Re:Fiji? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902798)

occasional disagreement between the government and the military

Is there a difference between them this week? I haven't been keeping up.

I don't think they get it (5, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902718)

Windows 2000 promised administrators the ability to manage everything from the command-line. That turned out to be true mostly for a small list-of-old-DOS-utilities value of true. Additionally, we were offered junctions/mount-points which sortofkindof worked, but weren't fully supported. Sysinternals offered their 'junction' utility which worked a bit better, but again, not really. Now with Vista have SFU or SFU-as-subsystem that promises everything that Windows Scripting Host promised and more!

I expect that whatever hodge-podge of new features, one-off Resource Kit utilities or whatever else Microsoft decides to offer in their latest and greatest, I'll continue to rely on the folks at Cygwin to take advantage of whatever limited functionality exists in Windows, and then implement workarounds for the inconsistencies and shortcomings to make something useful and sane with it. In the meantime, I'll bet my right monad that a future Slashdot headline will read Vista's Borked NFS Client.

Re:I don't think they get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16903166)

Check powershell (aka monad), it's RTM. Maybe finally you will be happy.

Re:I don't think they get it (1)

ZenShadow (101870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903264)

Last I heard, PowerShell doesn't work on Vista...

--S

Re:I don't think they get it (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903368)

And not on Windows 2000 either...

Vista Symlinks not accessible via in XP and 2000 (3, Insightful)

Yahma (1004476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902720)

People are asking questions about VISTA Symlinking on MSDN. See this thread. [microsoft.com] The Vista symlink seems to have not much more functionality than "shortcuts" did in Windows 95 or Windows 98.

The issue at hand is why was the API left so incomplete that remote accessing a share that utilizes Vista Symlinking does not work? This is a large oversight on Microsofts part, and basically makes Symlinking useless. Fortunately, Symlinking works great via Samba. Another reason to stick with Linux..


Yahma
ProxyStorm [proxystorm.com] - An Apache based anonymous proxy service for security minded people.

Holy negativity Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902722)

Broken this, limited that. What the heck? They're IN Vista! Isn't it about time? I, for one, welcome our almost-functional---er, partially-functi... er, soon to be functional post-post-post service pack 4 Vista SymLink overlords!

Seriously though. I at least give them credit for trying.

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902778)

Yeah, they may be a huge corporation with some of the best computer scientists in the industry, and you would expect them to be able to get it, but even though they don't, IT SHOWS GOOD SPIRIT THAT THEY TRIED.

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902822)

Please. With a track record like their's, trying is about all you CAN give them credit for.

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (4, Funny)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902866)

Link, or do not link. There is no 'try.'

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (3, Insightful)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903056)

Rubbish - a corporation with large financial and technical resources such as Microsoft doesn't half-implement a simple OS concept like symlinks because they are simply unable to do it properly.

It's their OS, they know all the dirty little secrets of their code and they can make it happen if they want to. Rather, I suspect it doesn't suit them to have a completed api at present.. in fact I'll even hazard a guess that (unsurprisingly) their motivations in this matter will be less to do with product quality or customer satisfaction and more about whatever FUD campaign is currently coming up to the boil in Redmond.

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903160)

IT SHOWS GOOD SPIRIT THAT THEY TRIED

Sorry, but that use to be the kind of patting on the back you give to children who come last in a competition. :-)

Re:Holy negativity Batman! (0, Troll)

whoop (194) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903300)

As we learned several weeks ago in Clinton's rant on Fox News Sunday, "at least I tried." That's what's important in the big picture.

fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902732)

FUD. Windows already supports Junction Points. RTFA [msdn.com] . The Vista implementation of symlinks is NOT BACKWARDS compatible with older OS versions. When will Slashdot decide to publish a story that doesnt serve to garner adviews only?

22.. (2, Insightful)

psavo (162634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902742)

22 bloody years...

<nelson>haha!</nelson>

Not the only thing that can't be accessed... (1)

Karem Lore (649920) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902774)

You website has also said goodnight...Maybe it's running off of Vista...May we suggest, erm, Linux?

Junctions (4, Informative)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902788)

I can't RTFA because of web error, but while I haven't tried Vista's idea of symlinks, I have used junctions, which were introduced in Win2000. To me, symlinks are one of the best features of Unix and on my Mac and Linux machines, I use them quite extensively. On Windows, while the junction API was available, no Microsoft-specific tools made use of them (that I could find), and resorted to a freeware program that implemented the junction api.

Whoa, big mistake. Junctions *do* work, but, and I think this is why Microsoft didn't promote or encourage their use, none of their other tools support them. In other words, doing a search of a drive that has junctions can lead to infinite recursion depending on how the junction is created. No Windows tools understand the "Don't follow symlinks" command that Unix tools have, and I had a few programs even crash whenever I tried to save to a junctioned-folder (Visual Studio was guaranteed to crash on me).

Re:Junctions (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903162)

And when you copy a directory tree that contains a junction, then delete that copy in the explorer, you will delete the original.
Very clever!
Even more so because there is no warning about this, or any way to see (in the explorer) that this is going to happen. E.g. because of a different icon or color used for a junction, like for a hidden file or a compressed file.

This stupid explorer is warning me that I want to delete a read-only file (as if anyone cared), but it smoothly deletes data it should not touch.

Fortunately, the only junction in most systems is in the SYSVOL directory. Just remember to NEVER copy that!

Re:Junctions (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903330)

There is also the great problem that you have multiple junction points, like a School Build I know of, that gives junction points to each user. Users like to rename these whatever, and when it comes time to migrate the data across to a new system you end up copying repeated data (at least if you use xcopy, which we did at the time).

I had to write a script that read through every folder, and every subfolder on the drive, identified junction points and killed them. It still didn't work if the junction point had certain special characters in it, but killed enough of them so that I didn't end up over filling the new Server.

I'm surprised that ntbackup even allowed you to disable backing up the contents of junction/mount points. What a nightmare.

Re:Junctions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16903384)

Hardlinks on XP are equally retarded. You can create them using CreateHardLink() and they work generally fine. However, if you hardlink a read-only file you find that you can't delete the links to the file without first making it read-write. Unfortunately making the file read-write does so for all links, which isn't what you'd expect from Unix experience, and generally isn't what you want either.

If this is the worst ... (3, Interesting)

Marbleless (640965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902796)

... that /. can find about Vista then Microsoft have won.

Don't worry, it isn't. (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902900)

There's plenty of other worse things about Vista; this is just an amusing side note.

Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (0, Redundant)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902802)

Window's file system has always been screwed up. Too many unnecessary attributes (remember all those times when you tried to delete the file it won't let you, saying it is in use), then drive letters are just silly and bunch of other problems.


The legacy software is both a blessing and a curse for Microsoft. They cannot break legacy code but Apple gambled and did it, and I think it succeeded. Subjectively I know more and more people who ditch their Windows machines for Macs or even Linux.


Now imagine in a parallel universe where MS decided that instead of NT or Windows XP they would just base their next OS on a compatible freely available Unix system (a *BSD for example ;). They probably would not have had to work as hard as they did writing a new NT kernel from scratch. We probably would not have had Macs and Linux-es today like we do. Microsoft could have released very cheap versions of it's OS for home and personal use ($35/pop so that the most avid pirate would rather buy it than waste time downloading it, and to make sure every child grows up immersed in a windows environment). They would have a great (free) kernel that would be secure, a powerful network stack that doesn't suck and a almost default free server that they could offer their corporate clients. Instead of supporting old legacy software they could have had some virtualization or emulation more for old DOS programs and so on. If that had happened 10 years on they would have had total monopoly in the OS market.


Today the best move MS could make is probably embrace Linux(Unix) with all they've got. They could make their own free *nix distro (yeah, I know Novel's Suse...), make it easy to install and run Windows software on that (something of a fast and reliable Wine). I bet a lot of the Linux crowd would jump ship quickly if they could play DVDs, mp3's, run Photoshop and Office on it, while still having their command prompt, the network stack and ext3/XFS etc. But Windows is still hesitating, it is a giant that has got a huge momentum and can't just stop and turn in the Unix direction, although it sure is starting to look in its direction...

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902852)

"Linux going to take over the desktop" - 1999

"Linux going to take over the desktop" - 2002

"Linux going to take over the desktop" - 2006

the never ending ranting of slashdotter bitching and moaning.

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (3, Interesting)

rynoski (682205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902860)

just base their next OS on a compatible freely available Unix system
Why this obsession with UNIX?

There are plenty of other OS's they could base thier OS off, maybe even VMS.
Unix is far from perfect, I want choice but when Linux fanboys here choice they think it must be a choice which distribution you use, because Linux is the only choice.

Back to the line about VMS, because NT was built by a bunch of ex-DEC guys, the NT Kernel isn't that bad.

I mean, they could always port GNU userland over to the NT kernel, but dont MS already do that (or something similar) in their UNIX resource thing, which you can download.

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902940)

about VMS, because NT was built by a bunch of ex-DEC guys, the NT Kernel isn't that bad.

Back when I worked in VMS I got invited along to the local DEC HQ and recieved a lecture from some MSFT guy on how much NT is like VMS and that we should all run NT on alphas.

He asked for questions and I ask him why NT doesn't have proper vms-esque device names (dka0, etc). The question didn't go down very well. I supose that would break too much stuff.

I mean, they could always port GNU userland over to the NT kernel, but dont MS already do that (or something similar) in their UNIX resource thing, which you can download.

I can't imagine them working on GPL'd stuff and having to release the code.

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903148)

That's the story of Microsoft. Everything half-ass works. POSIX is working but is also not working. Symlinks work but don't work. Security works but not quite. I think if they had done what Apple did and just used a well tested free Unix-like kernel or a complete VMS implementation with a good network stack and security they could have been further ahead today...

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903238)

I can't imagine them working on GPL'd stuff and having to release the code.


As the GP suggests, the Services for Unix package contains a lot of GPLed stuff, the code for which is also available on the Microsoft FTP servers. Microsoft have no issues with actually following license terms if they are required to do so.

The problem is replication (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903094)

Why this obsession with UNIX?

I think that was more an example of something they could have done - basically a good choice, even though there are others.

The main problem I see with Microsoft is the incredible degree to which they duplicate something that already exists:

* Operating system, as noted they could base this on UNIX or something else and saved a lot of effort.

* Filesystem - why does the world need NTFS? There are other really good file systems around. If it offered features like ZFS I could see it but about the only FS I'd like to use less than NTFS is FAT, and that's actually a better choice for small devices because it's simpler!

* Display format - PDF ain't good enough for Microsoft, hell no, we need a brand new document/display language. Metro!

* Porgramming langauges. We can't extend Java just the way we like without community review? Screw you all, we're building a new ball from scratch and running home!

* I think we need an XML based document format. It's not like one already exists or anything, let's create one from scratch!

Think of how far the industry as a whole would be along if Microsoft actually contributed to any of those fields instead of devoting huge numbers of resources to creating anew. Microsoft single handedly has set the computer field back probably a decade or more.

Re:The problem is replication (3, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903176)

I agree. Re-inventing the wheel could be good if it is the right wheel, at the right time for the right vehicle, otherwise it doesn't make sense.

I watched a PBS show the other day where Bill Gates was taking questions from college students. One of the questions was "Who do you look up to for advice?" and he said "Nobody!" and that basically he is rich and smart enough that he _always_ just came with future directions for his company (MS) completely on his own. He talked how sometimes it failed (remember WebTV included in Windows 98?), and I thought to myself how that mentality of "we don't look at others, we are the smartest, biggest and we'll re-invent everything" has probably hurt MS just as much as it helped. Not many operating system concepts have come out of Microsoft as being better than what was already out there. There was always a better kernel, a better file system, a better network stack, a better security model, a better system API and so on. (By "better" I mean better implemented practically, sure NT has a great security model but practically it is not the best, and "theoretically" Windows XP would support POSIX...but in reality it doesn't)

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (2, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903132)

There is not obsession with UNIX there is obsession with "common sense", security, stability, reliability. UNIXes at the moment fit that list most of the time. Tomorrow it could be Plan9 or QNX or some other exotic thing, I don't care. I am not a more Linux fanboy than I am a Windows fanboy or a Honda or Wal-Mart fanboy I just use what makes sense at the time (yap, sorry no brand loyalty at all here).

I mean, they could always port GNU userland over to the NT kernel, but dont MS already do that (or something similar) in their UNIX resource thing, which you can download.

You are referring to POSIX I presume. Well, have you seen any native Unix code running on Windows lately? I didn't! Windows POSIX compliance is a joke, it was more of a marketing ploy to tell their client ("we even run Unix!") but in reality it is very broken. That is why you have Cygwin...

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903038)

They cannot break legacy code but Apple gambled and did it, and I think it succeeded. Subjectively I know more and more people who ditch their Windows machines for Macs or even Linux.

Apple didn't have as big of a catalog of software to abandon.

I bet a lot of the Linux crowd would jump ship quickly if they could play DVDs, mp3's, run Photoshop and Office on it, while still having their command prompt, the network stack and ext3/XFS etc.

I just played a DVD from Kubuntu's live incarnation yesterday. I have been running MP3s on Mandrake and RedHat for at least 7 years. Photoshop is still a huge hurdle. Office alternatives (especially for home users) have been plentiful for years.

LK

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (2, Informative)

Kaetemi (928767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903062)

drive letters are just silly
You don't really need to use them. In Windows you can perfectly access the volume where you installed it by simply using "\". You can also mount a volume to a folder, Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Computer Management > Disk Management > Right Click a Volume > Change Drive Letter and Paths > Add > Mount in "\blahblah" (make sure you first create the folder) > OK, and then you can just access that volume without using drive letters by doing "\blahblah" (at least, it seems to be working that way here, on vista), and you can also access these volume folder thingies from the network if it or it's parent's folder is shared. :)

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903100)

There are ways around but most applications out there are still installing themselves in C:\Program Files and windows goes into C:\Windows and so on.

Re:Windows' FS / the alternate universe story (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903146)

And what happens in that alternate universe when they do that, and suddenly are unable to differentiate themselves from dozens of other nearly identical systems? Guess they stop being an OS company, huh?

How does this fit in with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902840)

the recent news about Microsoft trying to threaten Linux users? If I'm not mistaken, symlinks were available in the Unix/Linux world long before Microsoft's sad attempts to implement them in the Windows world. Doesn't that mean that Microsoft is copying ideas from our back yard.

Huh? Symlinks were in XP/2000 NTFS all the time (1)

LanceUppercut (766964) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902932)

What are you talking about? Both Windows 2000 and Windows XP already have built-in support for symlinks (NTFS 5.0). What does all this have to do with Vista?

Re:Huh? Symlinks were in XP/2000 NTFS all the time (1)

Computer Guru (967408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902966)

No they don't. They support "Junctions" which are the equivalent of Unix "Hardlinks." Symlinks add "Softlink" support to Windows. See http://neosmart.net/blog/archives/278 [neosmart.net] for more info.

Re:Huh? Symlinks were in XP/2000 NTFS all the time (1)

ozzee (612196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903040)

NTFS has supported hard links as distinct from "Junctions" and "Junctions" are not really hard links, they're just very bad implementations of a symlink which is really closer to a mount point, because thats what junctions are meant for originally anyway.

Re:Huh? Symlinks were in XP/2000 NTFS all the time (4, Informative)

ozzee (612196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903018)

At first blush you would think so, but the semantics of a windows NTFS symlink is more like a mount point.

Firstly, you can't use normal "commands" to create/delete NTFS symlinks. The collection of system calls to create a symlink are badly documented and incomplete.

The big differences are (from memory):

  • If you attempt to delete an NTFS symlink using normal "remove" system calls, you delete the file being linked to.
  • If you rename a symlink, you're renaming the file being linked to.
  • There are no "relative" symlinks (i.e. ln -s x y)
  • In *nix, if xxx is a symlink to a directory then xxx refers to the symlink while xxx/ refers to the location linked to
  • ... probably more, I can't think of anything else right now, I'll go do some more research later.

So while there is a similar function called a "reparse point" it is more like "mount" that it is like a a true UNIX symlink.

Also, most of the Windows tools just don't deal with link (hardlinks or symlinks). If you do a hardlink from one file to another and check to see disk usage of a directory, the file is counted twice. Most unix tools (du etc) will not count hardlinked files twice and symlinks are counted as the disk space the symlink uses not the file it points to.

Symlinks are a very powerful tool and are very mature in the *nix world. Windows is just simply way behind on this one.

Plus 1, T84oll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902942)

CoomuniTy at [goat.cx]

How is this different from Unix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902956)

I haven't read TFA because it's unavailable, but as far as I can tell the implementation is exactly like it is on Unix.

On a Unix file server, symlinks have to be interpreted by the client. If your NFS client doesn't understand symlinks, it won't follow them. Of course since symlinks are new to Vista, only Vista will understand them. It is very bad for security to have the file server follow symlinks for you because it would enable you to link to files that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Likewise, it is a security risk to have a web server follow symlinks (at least by default). I suppose there could be an option to allow it (as there is in Apache), but it's such an obscure feature that the benefit of putting it in is almost certainly outweighed by the security risk.

dom

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16902978)

Subversion doesn't support symlinks either and everyone is desperate to bin CVS for it.

Don't underestimate Vista (3, Funny)

Inaffect (862616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16902988)

I don't think its right to just attack Windows Vista because of a few problems. I mean it is not perfect and will not behave exactly the same as Linux, and this is Slashdot, but Microsoft, as a commercial entity, has done a good job providing a quality OS for computer users. Microsoft, no matter how much you may think they've "lied, cheated, and stealed" their way to the top, only has the profitability and money they have due to consumers. And they do make legitimate attempts at patching their OS and working towards improving it. I've also had about 6 Coors Lights tonight since its the weekend.

Re:Don't underestimate Vista (1)

Sinryc (834433) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903010)

You know, I agree with you completely. If we can get something that is easier, faster, and all in all better, people will use it. Look at Firefox, will ya? Also, I am STILL nursing a hangover, it being the weekend and all.

Re:Don't underestimate Vista (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903046)

Proof: the more you drink, the more attractive Windows becomes.

From Microsoft. (1)

Captian Obias (959206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903236)

"Microsoft has indicated that Windows will support true symbolic linking as of the release of Windows Vista/Windows Longhorn Server."

If you can't be better, be faithful (3, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903416)

Compare Mac OS X. It has two different kinds of symlinks. It has the traditional, pure-quill, UNIX symlinks which work exactly as UNIX users expect.

It also has Mac OS "aliases," introduced IIRC in System 7, which most Mac devotees think are superior to UNIX symlinks.

Now, before I get too far into praising "aliases," let me acknowledge that the presence of both mechanisms in Mac OS X is a big, hairy, ugly, mess, and one of innumerable places where the Mac world currently suffers from having anywhere up to half a dozen or so APIs for the same basic functionality. Mac OS X now resembles, well, my house, with fifteen-year-old half-abandoned dusty possessions still lurking in the attic. Not that Windows is any better, of course.

But I digress. You may like Mac OS aliases or you may dislike them, but you can see they they are a complete, well-thought-out, finished, working mechanism that it is at least possible to admire as something more than a half-baked knockoff of symlinks.

I happen to like them, a lot, because they just work. You don't need to do anything special at a programming level to dereference them, and it doesn't matter what programming language you're using or whether you're accessing them across the network, or whatever. However you do it, when you open the alias, you open the file it points to. And they are not fragile: you can move them or rename them or whatever and they still point to the right place. (The tough part is not dereferencing them... and Apple's deliberate failure to document or provide an API for creating them programmatically).

What I find hard to forgive Microsoft is that when Microsoft implements their knockoff of a well-known OS feature, it is rare that they come up with anything fresh and original. So many of their derivatives seem to be hasty knockoffs implemented by people who didn't "get" the original. And they put these half-baked implementations into shipping products, making it very difficult for Microsoft ever to finish them or fix them.

You can see this in a dozen places, like the Windows NT command language, which is a half-baked extension of the miserable quarter-baked DOS command language. Jeez, guys, you had DCL and the various UNIX shells as models, couldn't you do better than that?

And five years later, there tends to be conflicting documentation: the documentation written when badly-designed feature X was introduced, telling all good little Microsoft developers that they simply must, must, must use feature X in everything, and the documentation written a few years later warning everyone against the bad practice of using crufty old deprecated feature X...

I just wish I could shake Microsoft by the scruff of the neck and say, "Listen, if you can't improve it, then at least make a faithful copy of it."

Don't just pee in it to give it that personal flavor.

Clarification about Mac alias robustness (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16903430)

When I said "And they are not fragile: you can move them or rename them or whatever and they still point to the right place," what I meant was that you can move or rename the targets they point to without breaking the link.

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