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Why can't Linux security software be used on other OS platforms.

Posted on 2003-03-01
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I am a student taking my first course in Web design but am confused as to why there are Operating System (OS) specific security software. Why is it that some OS security software do not operate on other OS's (ie., Linux, Windows, Unix, Mac).  I have searched and searched but, I am even more confused.  What are the differences between OS's that causes conflicts.  Please help clear the spider webs out of my head.
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Question by:stormybrock
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majorwoo earned 100 total points
ID: 8047727
In order for something to run on a computer you must have a program, this program starts off as source code.  A test file like this

####
#include <stdio.h>

int main()
{
  printf("hello\n");
}
####

now in order to run that program, we must compile it.  For that we need a compiler.  Your compiler turns that code into what is called a binary (or .exe under windows) so that your OS can execute it.  It turns the code ino a instruction format that your OS can understand.  Now each OS has a different format for its binaries which makes part of the problem, so if you compile a program under windows it will not run under linux.

Ok, souliton would seem to be them to just compile your code for each OS and be done right? Well it doesnt work like that.  Companies that write code don't what to share it with everyone for various reasons.  And to make matters worse, there are OS specific things you can do that make your code unportable.  The program I showed you above just prints hello  on the screen, it would compile just find under windows or linux.  The problem becomes when you get into more complex things and use OS specific features/libraries -- now your code can not be ported to the other OS without rewriting parts of it (which many people dont want to do/dont know how and for commercial companies often isnt profitable enough as so many people use windows)

Does that help?
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by:Fummacious
Fummacious earned 100 total points
ID: 8049178
More specifically, each OS has its own set of low-level commands called the "Native API (Application Program Interface"). Individually, these are called "System calls", because they are direct calls into the operating system.

Unfortunately, each flavor of OS has its own set of these calls. While they do effectively the same things, they do so in different ways and under different names.

This isn't quite as painful as it sounds because C and C++ define a set of system libraries that sit on top of the native API. The system libraries allow developers to call "fopen" to open a file without consideration for the underlying OS.

Each OS has its own features that fall outside the system libraries. Since you mentioned security, I'll touch on that.

Unix can allow/deny read, write, or execute permission on a file-by-file basis. Delete permission is restricted by removing write permission from the enclosing directory.

Windows 95/98/ME, etc can manipulate 3 security-related bits associated with a file: Read-Only, Hidden, System.

NT/2000 still has these, but also adds ACLs (Access Control Lists) that allow you to define exactly what each user and/or group can do with a file.

The result is controlling access to a file is very different from one OS to another. This is even true between the various flavors of *nix. For that matter, it's even true for different distros of Linux.

Oracle 9i will install and run flawlessly on SuSE 7, but RedHat 7 uses a newer, incompatible version of binutils and Oracle won't even install.
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by:LamerSmurf
LamerSmurf earned 100 total points
ID: 8056932
Ill try to put it in a non-geek version, as i can in no way compete with the other two answers, very good answers. :)

if you look at it language.. OS's are like languages..
some languages are only used inside the country and by scholars who wants to learn of other languages(emulators).
and some languages are universal, like math and science. in computers that will be programming language that are not used specifically with one OS.

So, if a program or security program/software is coded in a 'local language' it cannot be moved directly to another OS.

The reason for ever putting a program in a local language is that is only ment to be used on this OS and therefor it is used to make things easier on the programmer.

just my way of looking at it. :)

/LamerSmurf
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