Windows Secrets readers share their findings

Kathleen Atkins

Many Windows Secrets readers are seasoned systems builders, sophisticated tool users, metaphor makers, and generous souls.

We often receive thoughtful letters from these readers. Here’s some of the more interesting mail that’s recently arrived in our inbox.

Reader compares Linux and Windows servers

  • In her Aug. 2 article, “The end for Home Server and Small Business Server,” Susan Bradley states, “The rise of simpler solutions, such as Linux-based, network-attached storage, also made Home Server less appealing.” Little does she know.

    I recently purchased a Home Server license but have not yet installed it because nothing could be worse than the sloppy software workmanship in my Linux-based NASes that have cost me literally man-months of inexcusable aggravation.

    For a starter, my Buffalo LinkStation and D-Link NASes do not accurately or adequately represent NTFS file attributes or file dates. This flaw is insidious because you normally don’t trip on it (and because I was unwilling to believe, when I did trip on it, that Linux implementers could be as sloppy and out of it as they have proven to be.) One would think they would understand the relevance of a server maintaining the file date and attribute integrity that the client system uses and expects.

    The situation is insidious partly because of the way Windows and Linux, working in combination, handle file dates. When Windows copies a file to the NAS, [the Linux version of the file is given the same] creation date, last-access date, and last-write date of the Windows file. Under this condition, the files match up adequately.

    [There are, however,] date-representation discrepancies that result in two problems. First, Linux represents file dates in a different form than Windows does. Second, when an application edits or saves a file directly to the NAS, the NAS uses its own internal clock to set the file’s dates. If the NAS’s clock is accurate, this is a non-issue. Unfortunately, one of my NAS clocks was found to be over nine years slow!

    [I can] hear the Linux-lovers howl over this one. They’ll say to just program the NASes to interrogate a time server each day. My NASes are so programmed, but they don’t update their time even though they have access to an open Internet connection. Moreover, they correctly handle the GMT and DST offsets only sometimes. Windows interrogates time servers without difficulty and handles the GMT/DST offsets correctly.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-08-09:

Kathleen Atkins

About Kathleen Atkins

Kathleen Atkins is the Windows Secrets associate editor. She's also a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. Prior to joining Windows Secrets, she worked at Microsoft Press.