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September 1999
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Letters to the Editor

Some words about VNC for NT and making NT networks zip -- and hooray for Inside Solaris

'VNC works miracles for system administrators,' Cameron Laird and Kathryn Soraiz

[Read Me]

The NT side of VNC

Overall, this was an excellent article and a good intro to VNC for those who have not heard of it.

However, I feel you have missed a very significant point in your article, and your statements may be somewhat misleading. You imply that VNC provides X Windows-like connectivity to NT systems -- what is not made explicitly clear is that VNC does not create or support multiple concurrent, differing sessions. Of course, this is not a limitation of VNC, but of Windows NT itself. Unix and X Windows were fundamentally designed to provide multiple users with concurrent access; NT, from an interactive console point of view, is inherently built for the single user.

Your point that it does provide better remote NT administration is great -- however, if NT were fundamentally better geared to remote maintenance and administration (i.e., Unix/telnet), then such tools would not be required.

Finally, I use VNC on all my NT systems, and it certainly makes my life much easier when I need to get in reboot/restart services, etc. Of course, such a system is not needed on my Unix systems, and even if it were, well, it's Unix, so I rarely need to go onto those machines anyhow.

NT still has a long way to go in terms of the remote administration abilities and reliability which Unix has had since its inception.

Keith Ajmani

Keith, you know you're right in what you write here. I'll briefly mention just a few points from our perspective:

  1. We avoided strategic issues about what NT should have been, or what it will be. We wrote this piece for the working stiffs trying to accomplish something right now. Many of them (us) find VNC useful today. The fundamental message of our article is this: if you're involved in any kind of remote work, you owe it to yourself to try VNC. It won't take long to test its applicability to your situation, and if you're like some of us, you'll find it indispensable.

  2. Our ideological stake in a lot of what we write is that people be open to ideas. One of the surprises in researching VNC was how many people pigeon-hole it as just about NT remote administration, or only for Unix work, or merely a research project. Our aim in this article was to give a flavor for the range of problems VNC solves. We have a special fondness, of course, for projects based on simple, robust, broadly applicable ideas. That's how we categorize VNC.

  3. VNC does indeed have several limitations. We're considering a follow-up piece that will describe not only VNC's security implications, but its commercial competitors.

Cameron Laird

'Which server is best when mixing Windows NT into a Solaris network?' Shari L. Jones

[Read Me]

What about making NT networks go faster?

I liked the perspective of seeing commercial and open source tools listed side-by-side as alternatives to a business problem.

But you could also add that, in order to configure a Windows clients using DHCP, you can host the DHCP server on a Solaris (or any other Unix) server. You can find open source DHCP implementations that are easy to configure and implement.

The open source DHCP is standard on Linux and can manage Windows clients. This includes all the options those clients need, like IP addressing of the WINS server.

I think a future article about how to make Windows networks faster would be very helpful. When following their default behavior, NetBIOS and SMB are bandwidth eaters because they make too many broadcasts. It's even worse when you have the Microsoft Browser (Windows Network Neighborhood) service enabled.

I've seen many Netware and Unix networks brought to their knees after they've been connected with some NT servers or Windows 95 workstations with sharing enabled. To prevent this from happening you should take some simple steps:

Note that many implementations of SMB for Unix (LAN Manager for Unix) do not implement WINS (a.k.a. NetBIOS Name Server) capabilities.

Fernando Lozano

'The Jini vision,' Bill Venners

[Read Me]

Bill spreads Joy

Your piece, "The Jini vision," was the most interesting thing I've read in a long time. Most people don't discuss what they didn't get quite right in their books. To your great credit, you do.

Mark Senn

Inside Solaris, Jim Mauro

[Read Me]

Happy two-year anniversary, Jim

I just wanted to congratulate you on two years of excellent writing. I have greatly enjoyed your richly detailed Inside Solaris articles.

I often point junior admins to your column, and it has become one of few places to obtain such detailed information. One has to go somewhere now that The Magic Garden Explained is out of print.

Thanks again,
Robert Thomas

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