March 19, 2001, 3:26 PM —
Death. Taxes. Microsoft Windows. No matter what the future may hold, at present you still can't avoid any of them. But there are ways to make Windows cooperate with Linux, and thus simplify our work lives until that legacy OS is no longer as ubiquitous as the Reaper or the taxman. In The Legacy Files, a new monthly LinuxWorld column, Richard Sharpe will show you how to integrate Linux and Windows and work around Windows' weak points. And if anyone knows how to beat death or taxes, be sure to tell us how in the forums. --Eds.
As I sat in front of a Windows system at a customer site recently, flustered while trying to fix a user's Internet access problem, I wished I could have access to the customer's Linux-based Internet gateway. I mean real access, with multiple xterms, not that pathetic excuse for a Telnet client Windows has. Once I had an xterm or two running on the server, I could quickly determine why the user could not access the Web. Perhaps Squid had died, or there were mistakes in the Access Control Lists in the Squid config file. Finding out from xterm would certainly be a whole heap easier than running back and forth between a user's PC and the computer room, or getting users to try things while I checked from the computer room.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having xterm available from a Windows PC would be very useful at other times as well. When setting up new PCs, much of the work of giving new users access to a customer's Linux servers could be done right on the PC, if only it were possible to fire up xterms. We already had file access sorted out, as we were running Samba on the Linux server. But while Samba configuration can be performed with SWAT, there are problems with SWAT, and Samba troubleshooting would be so much easier if you could watch the daemons and check the log files at the same time that you were trying to access Samba.