Did Open Source Influence Windows Server 2008's Development?

by Todd Ogasawara

I was surprised to read what Sam Ramji had to say in his Port25 blog entry...

How open source has influenced Windows Server 2008

Sam lists some of what he considers the things about Open Source development that works well and then describes how Microsoft applied this ideas to developing Windows Server 2008. This is the aspect of the blog the surprised me.

Sam goes on to describe some really interesting Open Source related developments like the FastCGI enhancements to speed up PHP on IIS7 (and IIS6 too as I'll discuss in a separate blog entry). He goes on to talk about how system administrators who write code are first-class citizens now that PowerShell is built right into Windows Server 2008. Personally, I think PowerShell was the single most important product released in the 2006-2007 timeframe that saw Windows Vista (lukewarm IMHO) and Office 2007 (great) released. You might be thinking what I thought when I first heard about PowerShell (then called Monad) back in late 2005 or early 2006: When don't they just use Bash scripting or Python or Ruby? Go take a look at PowerShell and you'll understand why Sam says this makes script-writing sysadmins first class citizens on Server 2008. PowerShell works directly with the .Net Framework. You can work with the system at the object level. This eliminates a huge amount of the parsing and formatting that we normally do when working on a UNIX-ish type OS (Linux, BSD, etc.) using Bash, Python, or Ruby. And, although Sam doesn't mention it, I'm hoping to read more about using IronPython and, eventually, IronRuby with Windows Server 2008.

Speaking of all these cool new features... If you install and fire up Windows Server 2008, you won't see any of this stuff! Don't worry. It is all there. These features are all turned off by default. To turn on features like PowerShell, head to the Control Panel, select Programs and Features, and then use the Add Features Wizard (see my screen cap above) to turn on things you want to test out.

By the way, unless you want to test out the pre-release Hyper-V virtualization features, you don't need to dedicate a PC for testing. In fact, I'm running my tests on a Mac using VMware Fusion. Windows Server 2008 installs and runs fine there. I definitely am saving my nickels and dimes to buy a small test PC with a Core 2 Duo chipset that supports Intel-VT for virtualization assist though. Be careful in buying a desktop or notebook PC for testing Server 2008 if you are interested in playing with Hyper-V. Not all Intel Core 2 Duo processors support Intel-VT.