Operating System Client Support

Because many different client operating systemsincluding Linux, Windows, and Macintoshare used in today's networks, network operating systems need to provide support for these clients to connect to the network. Of the three client systems mentioned, Microsoft Windows is by far the most popular. However, in recent years, other platforms have experienced a surge in popularity.

Windows Server Client Support

Windows-based servers support all the client software that is used on networks today. Microsoft provides client software for all previous versions of Windows, allowing for easy client connectivity. In the latest client operating systems such as Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional, network functionality is tightly integrated into the operating system. On older versions of Windows, additional software might have to be installed to gain the full benefits of network connectivity.

To support Macintosh clients, Windows server platforms include a File Services for Macintosh service, as well as a Print Services for Macintosh service. These allow Macintosh clients to access shared resources on a Windows server. The aforementioned Windows Services for UNIX provides some client functionality for UNIX and Linux clients connecting to Windows client platforms.

NetWare Server Client Support

To connect a Windows client system to a Novell network, you can use Novell-supplied client software or Microsoft's own clientCSNW. Novell makes its client software available for download from the company's website. The client software for current versions of Windows operating systems is called Novell Client for Windows XP/2000.

To connect Windows desktop systems to a NetWare 3.x or 4.x network, Microsoft NWLink is required on the workstation, as is CSNW or the Novell client software. NetWare 5.x does not specifically require that clients use NWLink as it also supports TCP/IP. NetWare 6 does not necessarily require client-side software.

Linux Server Client Support

Because a Linux workstation uses the same operating system that is running on the server, client support is both integrated and seamless. Linux client systems can access all the resources offered by a Linux server with ease. The most common resources are file sharing, which is normally facilitated through NFS, and printing, which is made available through the Line Printer daemon (LPD).

One of the programs used to increase interoperability between Linux and Windows clients is Samba. Samba is a software application that enables Linux servers to easily share resources with Windows workstations. Samba is available free of charge and is commonly installed by default during a Linux installation. Connection to a Samba server requires the use of the Microsoft network client, which is installed by default with most Windows client operating systems.