SUMMARY: Incorporating a PC into an all SUN environment

From: D. Ellen March (
Date: Fri Mar 28 1997 - 12:58:33 CST

Thanks to all the great responses! I am now ready to
make my recommendation to my supervisors.

It seems people successfully use both 95 and NT, and each had
his/her preference. Also recommended were software to mount
Sun filesystems on PCs with either free Samba or costly PC-NFS,
among others. And it was recommended to get an Xwindowing
software for the PCs too, like eXceed or Xwin.

Respondents were:

David Fetrow
Harvey Wamboldt
Jim Harmon
Todd LeRoy
Celeste Stokely
Michael Zimmerman
Andrew H. Evans
Jaspreet Singh
Bertrand Hutin
Bert N. Shure
Jason Keltz
Matthew Stier
Leo Crombach
Jason Williamson
Rick von Richter
Margaret Shinkle

Original question and responses follow:

Original question:
We have a homogeneous environment, all Solaris 2.5.1, various
sparcStations and servers.
We have been asked to incorporate several laptops running
either windows 95 or windowsNT workstation into our lan, and
eventually for remote connections (by isdn or modem).
I am asking for advice on which would be easier to incorporate
into our sun network, 95 or NT? Specifically needed, will be
to take advantage of our NIS+ services and to mount sun filesystems
on the 95 or NT machines.


Go with Windows NT. Win 95 is lousy for an office environment,
and will blow up in year 2000 anyway (has only 6 digit date).
The Windows 4.0 stuff
has a very different registry and is incompatible in some
ways with Windows 95 (Win 95 is ok for home users)
Windows 95 is a flop by even Micky$oft's admission.
You will need to set up NT as a server regardless, for
NT net services.
Actually, as far as mail and file sharing goes.
Set up a Samba server. This will allow you to mount a
UNIX partition on an NT pc and save files there. NT does
have a "sharing" capability.
For email, just use a POP server. IMAP is better, especially
if people will be using more than one machine (in which case
they would want to keep their mail on some central machine --
pop only downloads the files to the machine you are running
the client on). The IMAP servers also include a POP server,
so setting up IMAP will allow you to use POP for now and expand
later. IMAP is still new, though, and the clients
are few but are still being developed. Should be big in about
a year.
Pop clients include (free) Eudora, and Netscape. IMAP clients
include Simeon (which is awful) and others are under development
(we are developing one called Wicked Mail).
NIS services are not available on NT... and many folks have
asked. Maybe someday, but the stuff makes too much sense for
Micro$quish to incorporate it.
Good Luck


Why in the world would you want to ruin a beautiful Unix system by throwing Micr
osoft on it! Oh the
humanity!!! 8-)
Both of them work pretty well here. We use samba to export our Sun filesystems s
o that the Win
machines can mount them. It works very well. They show up in the list of drive
s in explorer and
the machine running Samba also shows up nicely in Network neighborhood. As far
as I know Win 95
will not do NIS/NIS+ and I don't think NT will either but I'm not sure.
The one thing I do know is you don't want to mix in Novell. It's the quickest w
ay to screw up a
Windows workstation (95 or NT).
Hope I didn't offend anyone with my opinions and if did... well that's ok also.
  Rick von Richter | Phone: 619-552-6222
  Systems/Network Admin | Fax: 619-552-6221
  Maintenance Warehouse | Email:
     Science is true. Don't be misled by facts.

        In my experience, the NT machines will be easier. NT has all of the
TCP/IP tools, POSIX compatibility, and can share directories for NFS
mounting. Our company has 600 95 clients, over 60 NT machines, and 23
UNIX machines. The 95 machines are absolutely horrid when trying to
connect to a UNIX machine. And forget file sharing (unless your fond of
FTP). Using 95 will require a third party product just for file
handling. NT on the other hand can validate users off of a UNIX server,
and share it's files directly (A few UNIX commands even work in NT!) So
in my experience, NT wins hands down. It's just expensive. Have fun, and
let me know if this helps.

                        Jason Williamson
                        UNIX Systems Administrator
                        CareAmerica Health Plans
We have numerous Windows 95 and Solaris 2.X machines on our TCP/IP LAN and
have been able to mount UNIX file systems to the PCs.  However, the PCs
(Windows 95 or NT) on their own cannot take advantage of NIS, NIS+, or NFS.  
In order to do NFS mounting and use NIS databases you have to install third
party software on the PCs such as FTP Software's OnNet product.  The
drawback to this is that it cost a lot of money for the software and for the
maintenance contract.  We use this product on many of our PCs and it works
very well; however, I have discovered another solution to mounting Solaris
file systems on PCs which is totally free and works just as well - it is
called Samba and you can find it at
Samba allows the UNIX boxes to communicate with the PCs using SMB which is
the PC protocol for sharing files, printers, etc.  It is only installed on
the UNIX server and requires some configuration but it is well documented.
Unfortunately, Samba cannot take advantage of NIS+ or NIS; but, you can
configure the UNIX box running Samba to act as a WINS server for the PCs
which performs essentially the same function as NIS or NIS+.
As for which is better, 95 or NT, I would probably say NT for networking and
security reasons; but this is based more on what I have read in magazines
rather than on actual experience.  We only have one NT workstation on our
network (mine) and it has definite advantages over the 95 machines.
Hope I was some help,
Leo Crombach
System and Network Administrator
Tropel Corporation
60 O'Connor Road
Fairport, New York 14450


They both are about equal, and I've never heard of NIS+ support for NT, but I do know that Tektronix's WinDD and Insignia's NTridge packages support NIS. As to providing support for mounting Unix filesystems on Windows systems, look into Samba, a freeware package with a homepage at:


>Hello- >> >>NT will definitely be more secure, which in an all UNIX environment such as >>yours, is >>probably a concern. However, it does require greater hardware resources to >>run >>effectively. >> >>At a recent show, I saw Intergraph's DiskAccess and DiskShare products, >>which >>enable NT machines to be either NFS clients or servers. They might be >>worth >>checking out. >> >>Regards, >>Derek Schatz >>Applied Materials, Inc. >>Santa Clara, CA >>

******************************************* We don't use NIS or NIS+ in our environment, so I can't help you much there. I do believe there are packages for NT that allow NIS logins, but I haven't heard of anything for NIS+. Something you may want to look into is the TotalNet Advanced Server from Syntax Systems. I got a demo of this product and was looking at it a while ago for a different purpose (it allows AppleTalk, NetWare, *and* NT clients to login to the TotalNet server which runs on your unix box and share directories and printers). Take a look at There is also a freely available piece of software called "Samba" that will allow NT/Win 95 users to mount directories from the SUN box and to share printers. Come to think of it, I suppose if the samba server were to run on your NIS master machine (I don't know too much about NIS/NIS+ - just some basics), samba wouldn't need to support NIS - it could just use the standard passwd file. I set samba up in a matter of an hour or two and it works well. There are also various PC NFS implementations. Jason Keltz

******************************************** use samba for file sharing and printing. public domain. works good. use hummingbird's exceed if you need X on the PC's. costs $$, but worth it. use the built-in dialup networking in win95. i think it is also in NT. --bert--

********************************************* NIS is not supported by either. mounting Sun file systems on W95 or NT could be done by: - installing a commercial NFS package, for instance Net Manage Chameleon NFS, this allows also mounting Windows disks on Suns. - using the Samba freeware. ******************************************* I personally think NT would be easier to incorporate than Win95. Its what we use here at work. Mounting filesystems is easy, just get Samba - it free. This will allow you to mount your SUN filesystems onto NT. Once you get samba running on your SUNs it makes mounting filesystems very easy. As for NIS, That will be tougher. Hopefully someone else can help you there. We use Exceed, which is an X server, to log into our SUN servers. Jaspreet

********************************************* I would highly recommend samba. It is a networking solution that will provide file and print services very nicely from Solaris to the PC users. You'll need to run two daemons on one Solaris system that will provide authenticated (or not if you choose) connections. The PCs can run either Win95 or NT, but need Ethernet drops for connectivity on the LAN. I've had good luck with PCMCIA cards for the laptops. Win95 and I assume NT provide a mechanism for providing two connectivity options when the system is set up. It is possible to provide services via a modem or ISDN, but it is slow to the point of frustration. I would recommend using ftp and lpd via TCP/IP to move data around when remotely connected. But that's my opinion, and you should judge for yourself. Win95 and NT require no additional software to use samba, as it emulates Microsoft Networking via the Microsoft Network Client on the PC. This eliminates buying additional hardware (NT server) and saves $$. It's reliable, well documented, and as secure as you make it. - Andy ======================================================================== Andrew Evans Computer Science Department Computer Specialist University of New Hampshire Durham, NH 03824

*********************************************** We've just begun doing the same thing--integrating PCs into an all-Sun environment. We've primarily used two tools: 1) Xterminal emulators like Hummingbird eXceed and Xwin, to let folks connect up to the Unix machines to run programs, and 2) NFS programs like Samba, to mount Unix filesystems on the PCs and give access to network printers. Our choice has been to go with Windows 95 rather than NT, mostly for simplicity and security reasons. However, we're not actively trying to incorporate NIS+, nor give Unix machines access to files on the PCs. I can't address the issue of dialup/ISDN access--we're not supporting that, though I know some folks have run the X emulators over dialup connectsion (with VERY slow response time on a 14.4 modem). Good luck! Mike Zimmerman

************************************************** I don't know how you can get either MS OS to work with NIS+. I've never heard of a product that will do this, but it may exist. For NFS-type file sharing, you can either use one of the many NFS products for either OS, or you can use Samba (my recomendation) on the Suns. Then, the PCs will see the Sun-export filesystems in the PC native way. I use it here and at several client sites and it's superb. (And free!) ...Celeste Stokely, Unix System Administration Consultant Stokely Consulting, 211 Thompson Square, Mountain View CA 94043 - Voice: 415.967.6898 - FAX: 415.967.0160 - Home of Unix Serial Port & Sysadm Resources

*********************************************** I haven't tried to hook in NT, but we have many DOS, W3.11, WFW, and W95 systems co-existing with our Unix set. Unfortunately, most of my experience is with the more DOS based systems. On those boxes, we generally used 3rd party products such as PC-NFS. They then can access NIS, etc. and it works pretty clean. NFS mounts, etc. all work fine (although we have had some problems with applications that wanted to do file locking). Probably the easiest way to get W95 boxes talking on the net, is to install a samba server on one or more of your sun systems (it's free). You can then see the exported drives, and access printers. However, I don't have a clue about how much of NIS you can use. I do know that name / password validation works, as it is necessary for accessing the drives via Samba. But, I have no idea about general NIS map access. Don't know if this helped at all, but just my $0.02 worth. Regards, Todd

************************************************ I wasn't aware NT was being supported on Laptops yet... What brand are you looking at? My personal feelings (We have NT and '95 on desktops, plus '95 on laptops) are that '95 is far easier for the user to use then NT 3.5.1, but presents a challenge for networking from a SunOS server environment. NT is far more integrated to the UNIX environment, and requires a little less effort from a networking perspective. NT 4.0 is so much like '95 from a user point-of-view, that it would be my #1 choice of the three. ('95, NT3.5.1, NT4.0) Here's why: '95 has no unix print client support, so without an NT server slaved to your UNIX server, '95 users can't print to network printers in the SUN side. '95 doesn't recognize any filesystems other than FAT (Microsoft File Allocation Table), or HSFS (High Sierra -- CDROM) so you can't (simnply or easily) use the Sun SCSI drives for backup or remote storage without special client-server software to emulate an NT Server or Novell Server on your Suns. (Look at SAMBA--it's easy to use and makes your Sun system emulate a microsoft server, even allows network printing) '95 presents challenges when filesharing among other '95 users. Primarily the security is very poor, and assumes that noone will be able to tap your network and capture packets. (Windows Workgroup model) On the other hand, NT has native support to connect as a client to UNIX, including TCP, printing, time service, FTP, etc etc etc.... NT will recognize your NIS/DNS Server as a valid Microsoft DNS server NTFS is inherantly safe as you can't access NTFS data booting via floppy. (Floppy FAT filesystem can't mount the NTFS, so no data can be read. NT can act as a server/gateway to your UNIX network to any and all Microsoft workgroups in your organization, so even if you only have (1) NT box in the house, all your windows for Workgroups, Win95, and windows 3.x will be able to use UNIX resources. With the '95 GUI, NT 4.0 is amazingly simple to customize for your organization or for individuals. You can create (with the help of books below) custom install and upgrade scripts that will allow you to standardize all systems in your NT/95 environment from one machine. (requires at least one copy of NT Server to allow automated remote setups) BUT: WinNT is BIG, far bigger than '95 is scope and complexity, and you MUST get the NT Resource kit(s) and Registry guides to be a reasonable intermediate/advanced intermediate administrator to that environment. You don't have to read them all at one sitting but it pays off bigtime to have them in hand when unexpected problems arrise. Remember that NT and '95 used the "\" --I call it "backhashed" directory naming convention, and WILL confuse you when you do command-line work. There's really tons more to say, but this covers the highlights. Please feel free to contact me for more info. Cool?

************************************************* I don't know about NIS, or allowing Suns to access PC's but I just installed Samba ( to allow the PC's to access the NFS and it works like a charm with both '95 and NT. -H- Harvey M Wamboldt ^ E-Mail: MDA Inc 1000 Windmill Rd. Suite 60 ^ Fax: (902)468-2278 Dartmouth NS, B3B 1L7, Canada ^ Phone: (902)481-3531 ************************************************** Neither is particuarly tough. I've found it easier to incorporate SMB (Microsoft networking) into Unix workstations than the other way part because I have a deeper knowledge of Unix and in part because Microsofts LAN/WAN management just doesn't scale up very well yet. If all you need is for the Unix boxes to handle email, file and print service a good choice is SAMBA (available for free from the net). I don't know a really easy way to make the Windows passwords match the NIS+ stuff but with Samba your users will use their Unix logins to get to the Unix services (print and file sharing) and their Windows passwords for Windows services. Performance is adaquate. The only real gotcha is it doesn't automatically convert between ASCII and that thing Microsoft uses. If you don't want them to have to log in twice: WinDD (Tektronix), WinCenter( NCD) are two products that can incorporate Windows NT into your network and use NIS (not NIS+) to do it so the user accounts can match entirely. These are WindowsNT machines (currently 3.51 but 4.0 should be out any day) allow WindowsNT to run on any X-windows display. If you make them your "Primary Domain COntroller" and use the NIS emulation available under NIS+ it should work smoothly. I think Insignia Solutions also has a similar product....they are also quite good. We are testing these but will buy one within a month. If they use Windows95 you really don't have to worry about Windows accounts much...anyone can make one for a machine...this can be a good thing or a nightmare. WindowsNT is much more secure.

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