Forget the Wimpy Windows Command Shell
MKS turbo-charges Windows with Unix scripting power.
- By Greg Neilson
The MKS Toolkit isn't a single product, but a
range of products for interoperability between
Windows and Unix environments. I looked at two
of these productsMKS Toolkit for System
Administrators and the MKS Toolkit for Interoperabilityintended
for system administrators.
The MKS Toolkit for System Administrators includes a C shell, a Korn
shell, the Perl scripting language and many of the common Unix commands
ported to run on Windows. If you have experience with Unix scripting,
you'll know that even with WSH, Windows today lags far behind Unix in
being able to produce useful and powerful scripts to automate tasks. In
this case you can leverage those skills to automate your Windows NT/2000
The MKS Toolkit for Interoperability adds support for running an X server
on a Windows machine, and also includes a single-user license Telnet server.
(Recall that in "X" terminology, the words server and client are used
differently than we would expect; the X server shares the screen to display
output from an X client application). More Telnet client licenses are
available separately, although you're probably aware that Win2K also includes
a two-user Telnet server free in the base product.
After installation, it became apparent that some toolkit components have
been licensed from other vendors. On the Start menu, there will be up
to three options added on the Programs menu, for the MKS Toolkit, SL Products
(for the Seattle Labs Telnet server), and Vision (the SCO X server). I
don't particularly care where the tools come from, and would have preferred
that these products be installed under a single menu option, since the
Start menu can grow very large and cumbersome.
My other concern was with the amount of hardcopy documentation. Perhaps
I'm in the minority these days, but I like manuals with my products, since
I like to actually read through them. MKS Toolkit comes with a great deal
of online documentation, but the only coverage of topics of interest to
me in the systems administration arena was about 50 or so pages in the
Product Overview & Solutions Guide.
The Toolkit works as described in providing Unix-like functionality on
the Windows platform. I was able to launch the shells, issue commands
and invoke shell scripts on my Win2K Server just as I would in Unix. Those
who work with both Windows and Unix will appreciate being able to use
the same commands on both platforms. I find myself typing cat and ls commands
in Windows when I should have used the type and dir commands! At the more
advanced level, using tools like grep and sed to find and change strings
in text files is very powerful, and not something that has an equivalent
today in the regular Windows environment. Any experienced Unix user who
feels cramped by the Windows command shell will get an immediate productivity
boost from this product.
Greg Neilson, MCSE+Internet, MCNE, PCLP, is a Contributing Editor for MCP Magazine and a Professional Development Manager for a large IT services firm in Australia. He’s the author of Lotus Domino Administration in a Nutshell (O’Reilly and Associates, ISBN 1565927176).