Windows for UNIX Users
The University of Georgia
UNIX-Windows phrase book
UNIX users moving to Windows XP, Vista, or 7 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 bookThe 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
|UNIX command or feature
||Windows equivalent |
|cat (to concatenate files)
||copy (for details type help
||copy filename CON:
||cd (with arguments; . and .. work as
in UNIX) |
||attrib (simple operations affecting
cacls (advanced operations involving specific
Or just right-click on the file and choose Properties,
xcopy (advanced functions including directory
||Control Panel, Scheduled Tasks.|
command line, use at.
||Login scripts (see Windows help system). Also,
default environment variables, including PATH, are in Control Panel,
|Ctrl-D (end of file)
|Internal object-oriented database; see
Control Panel or Administrative Tools |
||Internet Information Services (IIS)
findstr (multiple alternatives, regular
(There are also implementations of grep for
Windows, e.g., from Borland.)
||Internet Information Services (IIS)
||ipconfig /all (to view
Settings, Network to change settings
||more filename |
Also type any command
followed by /?
||more filename |
||move to relocate files or
rename to rename files or directories
||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
|Perl and Python
||Available for Windows too, with same
||Press Ctrl-Alt-Del, select Task Manager
||user's directory under C:\inetpub\wwwroot
||cd (without arguments)
|rm -r directory
||rmdir /s directory
||.BAT and .CMD files; VBSCRIPT programs
(Pipes and redirection work
much the same as in UNIX.)
||Telnet service (under Control Panel,
Services); not enabled by default. Server versions of Windows also
provide a Remote Access Service with GUI. |
||Event Viewer (in Control Panel, Administrative
||notepad (GUI editor, startable from
command line); pay attention to whether you're saving your file as ASCII
or Unicode |
There's a lot more. For further guidance, I recommend the Windows books
Operating system historyUNIX 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
In my opinion, only the NT/2000/XP product line
is the real thing, and that's what this document is about.
- Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1, a graphical user interface for
DOS that grew until it almost became a separate operating system.
- Windows NT, 2000, and XP, a multitasking operating system derived
from the Microsoft/IBM OS/2 project (though the code is not derived from
OS/2, despite similarities). Windows NT was originally architected by Dave
Cutler, designer of VAX/VMS.
- Windows 95, 98, and ME, a compromise between the two products,
distinctly less reliable but compatible with DOS device drivers (which the
NT line isn't).
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 architecturesWhen 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
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
SecurityIt 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:
- Don't log in with administrator privileges if you don't have to. Make
yourself a non-administrator account for everyday use. That greatly limits
the damage a virus can do.
(Under Windows Vista and 7, you have to give permission to exert
administrator privileges even when already logged in as administrator. This
is the same concept as sudo in UNIX. For some reason, it is loved in
UNIX and hated in Windows.)
- Use NTFS, not FAT or FAT32 (DOS-compatible) filesystems. Most hard disks
formatted under newer versions of Windows are already NTFS. To convert a
disk to NTFS, use a command such as:
convert c: /fs:ntfs
- Set reasonable permissions on all files and directories. Do not give
"write" or "full control" permission to "Everyone" unless you have a good
- Run antivirus software and keep it up to date.
- Use Microsoft's Windows Update facility (built in) and keep it up to
date (or even use the newer Automatic Updates option).
- If you run IIS (the HTTP and FTP server), run URLSCAN (available free
from Microsoft) to block abnormal or suspicious HTTP requests.
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
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.