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I'm a linux user. And I need to administer (take care) of ms_windows machine. I would love to work with that computer as with linux box under full control.

More specific:

  1. How I can control updates of different software? What is the best software equivalent to linux package system?
  2. What should I treat as /home and what as /var and /usr?

I know that question can be huge, but even minimum answer will be great!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 11 '12 at 17:29

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2 Answers

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There is no way to learn Windows by assuming it's like Linux, that's like learning to drive a truck by pretending it's a toaster oven. Give that idea up now.

Windows isn't Linux and what you know about Linux isn't going to help you administer windows.

That being said, if you prefer a command line interface to using a GUI, you now have an excellent choice for Windows administration; Learn the PowerShell. It is inspired by the design of the Unix shell and unix tools, but it uses some different core concepts. Where "everything is a file" is a common Unix trait, that is not true in Windows. PowerShell lets you walk around the Registry and WMI and other things that are not anything like a file system with the same kind of ease that you are used to walking around in filesystems, but you must be aware of the differences.

The /home/twyderka folder on Linux is probably c:\users\twyderka in Windows, at least in Windows vista and later versions, but that's not true on Windows XP or Server 2003. It used to be called C:\Documents and Settings. As far as /usr/bin, you could say that's similar to C:\Program Files, but on some international versions of Windows those paths are different. You can use Environment Variables when scripting, to find things like the user's home directory, not hard coded path names.

Forget all about "package management". Windows doesn't work like Debian Linux and there is no replacement utility for Apt-Get or RPM. There are command-line ways to install packages, which are often ".msi" files, but those installer packages work by very different rules than the package systems on LInux.

Administration of Windows Servers requires about a book-shelf of over 10K pages worth of books, if you are expected to Administer a domain controller, file server, and all the rest, but if you are simply "administering" a windows client Desktop machine, you just need to learn how to solve common problems in Windows, and install updates, and so on. Since you haven't even said what "administer" means, we'll assume you mean fix it when it breaks. Here's my advanced admin school for Windows client PCs:

  1. See error message.
  2. google error message.
  3. Try stuff that was in the pages you got from google.
  4. Rinse, repeat.
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A more graphical version of your tech support method (I will leave it to you if you want to copy it in to your post) –  Scott Chamberlain Dec 11 '12 at 21:16
    
An alternative is the Condescending Unix Old-Timer approach: dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-06-24 –  Warren P Dec 12 '12 at 14:17
    
I got to thinking and there is a psudo package manager, however it is only for first party windows components via PSClientManager in powershell or Add/Remove Programs -> Windows Features via the GUI. For example: Telnet server for linux apt-get install telnetd. Telnet server for windows Add-ClientFeature –Name TelnetServer (after doing Import-Module PSClientManager to load the Add-ClientFeature commandlet in to PowerShell) –  Scott Chamberlain Dec 12 '12 at 14:41
    
That's stretching things a bit to call that a package manager. There is a command line MSI tool as well, but that's not exactly the same thing either. –  Warren P Dec 12 '12 at 21:39
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This is a tough question indeed and an answer would be dependent on windows version and number of machines you need to administer (some enterprise solutions won't make sense and are not worth deploying for small number of PCs)

  1. there is windows update for OS and other MS products, software from other vendors have their own methods of update - so there is no centralized place to control what updates when (but there are external systems that control installed sw versions and can install updated versions)

  2. on windows7 (was a different place on previous versions) i guess C:\Users would be a rough equivalent of /home; software is usually installed in C:\Program Files\, so that would be a /usr (kind of); as for /var - depends what are you looking for - (some) log events for example are normally visible through an app called "Event Viewer" and this mechanism can be seen as equivalent of syslog, but not all applications use it and for example keep there logs in text files in various locations

You just need to keep in mind that Windows is GUI oriented and for a long there ware next to none tools for administration on command line (heard that is better now, to a point that you can run a headless server :))

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on CLI options, Windows PowerShell has the capability to script or interactively administer most aspects of the OS, but it is very very differant from BASH. –  Frank Thomas Dec 11 '12 at 18:02
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