Windows for UNIX Users

Michael A. Covington

Institute for Artificial Intelligence

The University of Georgia

A UNIX-Windows phrase book
Operating system history
Essential Windows skills

UNIX users moving to Windows 2000/XP are often unaware of just how powerful this operating system is. This is a brief and incomplete guide to help them get oriented, with an emphasis on systems-related topics that ordinary Windows users can often ignore.

A brief UNIX-Windows phrase book

The following is a glossary to tell the experienced UNIX user where to look in Windows for familiar features. It is not complete.

For help on most Windows commands, simply type the command followed by: /?

UNIX command or feature Windows equivalent

cat (to concatenate files) copy (for details type help copy)

cat filename copy filename CON:

cd, chdir cd (with arguments; . and .. work as in UNIX)

chmod attrib (simple operations affecting all users)
cacls (advanced operations involving specific users)
Or just right-click on the file and choose Properties, Security.

cp copy (basic functions)
xcopy (advanced functions including directory recursion)

cron Control Panel, Scheduled Tasks.
At the command line, use at.

.cshrc, .login Login scripts (see Windows help system). Also, default environment variables, including PATH, are in Control Panel, System.

csh, tcsh cmd.exe

Ctrl-C (interrupt) Ctrl-C

Ctrl-D (end of file) Ctrl-Z

/dev/tty CON:

Internal object-oriented database; see Control Panel or Administrative Tools

ftp ftp

ftp daemon Internet Information Services (IIS)

grep find (simple cases);
findstr (multiple alternatives, regular expressions)
(There are also implementations of grep for Windows, e.g., from Borland.)

http daemon Internet Information Services (IIS)

ifconfig ipconfig /all (to view settings)
Settings, Network to change settings

less filename more filename

ls -al

man help
Also type any command followed by /?

mkdir mkdir

more filename more filename

mv move to relocate files or directories
rename to rename files or directories

netstat netstat
net view

nslookup nslookup

passwd To change your own password, press Ctrl-Alt-Del and choose Change Password.
To change users' passwords, use Control Panel, Administrative Tools, or Control Panel, User Accounts.

Perl and Python Available for Windows too, with same functionality

ping ping

ps Press Ctrl-Alt-Del, select Task Manager

public_html user's directory under C:\inetpub\wwwroot

pwd cd (without arguments)

rm filename del filename

rm -r directory rmdir /s directory

rmdir rmdir

set set

shell scripts .BAT and .CMD files; VBSCRIPT programs

sort sort
(Pipes and redirection work much the same as in UNIX.)

telnet telnet

telnet daemon Telnet service (under Control Panel, Services); not enabled by default. Server versions of Windows also provide a Remote Access Service with GUI.

traceroute tracert

/var/adm/messages Event Viewer (in Control Panel, Administrative Tools)

vi notepad (GUI editor, startable from command line); pay attention to whether you're saving your file as ASCII or Unicode

net session

There's a lot more. For further guidance, I recommend the Windows books by Mark Minasi.

Operating system history

UNIX originated at Bell Labs around 1972 and was distributed beginning in 1978. LINUX is Linus Torvalds' free version of UNIX derived from the Gnu project.

It is important to distinguish the three different Windows product lines:

In my opinion, only the NT/2000/XP product line is the real thing, and that's what this document is about.

Windows is bigger, newer, and more elaborate than UNIX. The days of DOS are long gone, but there are still people who don't realize Windows is a fully multitasking, virtual-memory operating system, and some who aren't even aware that it has a command prompt.

Different architectures

When UNIX was invented, recursion was an exciting new concept, and structured programming was just getting started. Internally, UNIX relies on arrays and text files as its fundamental data structures.

Windows is built on considerably newer technology. Object orientation and default inheritance pervade it. For example, file and directory permissions are inherited from the parent directory.

Also, under UNIX you can only assign file permissions to everyone, group members, or the file owner. Under Windows you manipulate Access Control Lists (ACLs) which let you assign permissions to any user, set of users, computer, or combination thereof.

UNIX system administration requires the sysadmin to memorize, or look up, a large number of arbitrary codes, file names, and the like. Windows system administration is largely menu-driven.

UNIX is written in C, a programming language in which arrays are not bounds-checked. Crackers exploit this fact to insert their own executable code by overrunning input buffers. Windows was originally written in C and C++ but is moving toward a new software environment, called the .NET Framework, in which Java-like JIT compilation is combined with automatic error checking (to prevent overruns and uninitialized variables) and fully object-oriented systems programming.


It is often claimed that Windows is harder to keep secure than UNIX. My experience has been the opposite, partly because a Windows system normally offers less for the outside user to break into. (For instance, Telnet service is normally turned off, and many of the functions of the machine simply aren't available from outside.) To keep Windows secure:

Essential Windows skills

To get to a command prompt, look under Start, Programs, Accessories. (It is wise to put shortcuts to the Command Prompt in lots of convenient places.)

To adjust the properties of almost any object, right-click on it and choose Properties.

To select any object, left-click on it.

To select multiple objects, select the first one, then hold down Ctrl while clicking on each of the others.

To select a whole range of objects, select the first, then hold down Shift while selecting the last.

Many Windows program display tables which you can sort by clicking on the headings (e.g., Name). That's how to sort files by name or type, sort e-mail messages by name or date, and so on.

Usual editing shortcuts:
Ctrl-C to copy to clipboard;
Ctrl-X to cut (copy to clipboard and delete);
Ctrl-V to paste from clipboard.

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