Accessing Linux Filesystems in Windows
The .NET framework client is one of the most feature-rich clients available in LTOOLS. To run it, you need to download a copy of the Microsoft .NET framework from the Microsoft Download Web site (www.microsoft.com/downloads).
The client allows you to view all Windows and Linux partitions, and you can transfer files between them, delete files, edit files and modify them. It is also possible to mount a remote device and edit its contents. This is extremely useful when I have some problems with my Web server. I mount the drive remotely if I'm using a Windows machine and make all the modifications necessary to get it running.
If your Windows installation is Windows95/98/ME and does not support the MS .NET framework, the Java interface is for you. To run the Java interface, you need a copy of the Java Runtime Environment, which you can download from java.sun.com. The Java interface has features analogous to the .NET client.
The best interface in LTOOLS, based on my experience, is the Web-based service. LTOOLs comes with a built-in Web server, LREADsrv.exe, which allows users to start it and access their filesystems via a Web browser. This has great potential if you want to share files with other people remotely. I would not recommend running LREADsrv.exe on a server that is globally accessible, as it could compromise your data, so you should share it in an environment where only legitimate users have access to it, such as a virtual private network. LREADsrv.exe still has some problems; however, they will be fixed in future releases.
LREADsrv is still alpha and has certain limitations, which include problems with HTTP 1.1 Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, which slows the response from the server considerably. Another limitation is that LREADsrv, in its current version, has been implemented as a mono-threaded application—meaning that if multiple people are accessing the filesystem at the same time, the changes they make are applied globally, which can lead to lost updates and concurrency problems. LREADsrv's error checking is weak. Most user input (filenames and so on) is not validated. So, if a user types some filenames incorrectly or mistypes a hard disk partition, the Web server can go into an unstable state, which, fortunately, does not result in any data loss.
Linux users have increasingly more mature support for Windows filesystems. LTOOLS provides a unified way to access the most popular Linux filesystems through a plethora of interfaces from Windows. However, support for Linux filesystems in Windows still has a way to go. Windows support for various other Linux/open-source filesystems, such as XFS, is not yet available. Drivers capable of using advanced features, such as journaling in ext3 and ReiserFS, are not mature. Integration of Linux filesystems with Windows is an important area, and the lack of it can be a serious impediment to an OS migration. Thus, to enable enhanced interoperability between MS Windows and Linux, given that Windows is still the dominant desktop operating system, the Open Source community must focus on adding mutual support for filesystems.
Irfan Habib is an undergraduate student of software engineering at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan. He has been deeply interested in Free and Open Source software for years. He often works in heterogeneous computing environments—that's why mutual support for filesystems of different platforms is important to him.