Port25 and Cygwin

So the Port25, murky, low-res, MP4 videocast did have a guest on the show talking about the POSIX heritage of Windows—that would be Jason Zions in “Faces from the Collective: Shared memory anyone?” This is one of two Port 25 interviews that skirts around the existence of Cygwin.

Cygwin exists to bring to Windows—and some versions of Windows cost hundreds of dollars—what the most financially impoverished Linux user expects for free: the ability to log into a machine remotely with a secure console application. Yes, there was some insecure console crap in Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX (SFU), but nothing recognizing the existence of SSH in general and Open SSH in particular. (And, no, Terminal Services is more Windows—not a console.) For me, the number one thing Cygwin brings to Windows is the concept of a secure shell—available remotely over the wire.

What would be interesting to me is to see how the Microsoft employees of Port25.technet.com explain or even brilliantly reduce to the absurd why Cygwin hasn’t been clobbered by a Microsoft equivalent. A tamer (and therefore more likely) discussion would be to review the history behind how certain portions of SFU ended up in Windows Server 2003 R2 and then, like a little puppy, make small yips about why certain bits were left out… MS SSH anyone?

It may even be possible to get the makers of Cygwin or OpenSSH to appear on Port25. But you may think my words are “bitter,” hah! —it would not surprise me to find happy Cygwin people “difficult to reach” from the Microsoft campus. Can we find Steve Chamberlain in audio or video? What about some Red Hat guys maintaining Cygwin? Nevertheless, their historical and technical input should offer some insight into why Microsoft is doing what it is doing. What would really be cool is to ask Jeffrey Snover of PowerShell fame to chime in on this. I wonder how many dis-informing Microsoft reps would argue with something like, “SSH is not our problem…” Or maybe an old classic, “Our customers don’t really use SSH”—where “our customers” sounds like Emperor Baby George Bush talking about “the good people” of Texas.

What is certain is that now that an ancient copy of OpenSSH is working on my Windows Server 2003 virtual machine, my GNOME desktop (in another virtual machine) can treat a Windows server like just any other SSH-capable server with just another folder on the desktop. This is far from perfect. But no special Microsoft tithes paid for the evangelical religion of “innovation.” My free Protestant notes on this process are in the SonghaySystem.com Funky Knowledgebase, “Windows Server 2003: Installing OpenSSH.”