by Hertel, R
First impressions are important. The handshake, the smile, here's our brochure, would you like a cup of tea?
Microsoft's Windows family of operating systems makes good first impressions. There's a pleasant sound at start-up, all of the basics are represented by simple icons, and everything else is available through a neatly categorized menu.
...we use only the finest baby frogs,
dew-picked and flown from Iraq,
cleansed in the finest quality spring
water, lightly killed, and sealed in
a succulent, Swiss, quintuple‑smooth,
treble-milk chocolate envelope, and
lovingly frosted with glucose.
-- Whizzo Chocolate Sketch,
Monty Python's Flying Circus
As the relationship progresses, however, it becomes clear that there is a lot going on beneath the candy-coated surface. This is particularly true of the CIFS protocol suite. The Network Neighborhood icon that appears on the Windows desktop hides a great deal of gear-churning and behind-the-scenes fussing.
The large installed base of Microsoft's Windows products has granted de facto standard status to CIFS. Unfortunately, implementation documentation and detailed protocol specifications are scarce, incomplete, and inconsistent. This is a problem for network administrators, third-party CIFS implementors, and anyone else who wants to know more about the ingredients than is described on the bottom of the box.
Despite the dearth of good under-the-hood documentation, there are several non-Windows CIFS products. Some of these are based on older versions of Microsoft's own software, but the majority were created by studying the few available references and reverse-engineering to fill in the gaps.