Hamilton C shell brings a touch of UNIX to NT

Are you a UNIX-to-NT convert who misses the glory days of using your UNIX C shell to perform routine systems administration tasks and write scripts that run your entire business? Are you a real UNIX diehard who, when told to write a new accounting system for your company, automatically starts thinking about how to code the entire solution in C shell scripts? If you just can't get enough of that UNIX nostalgia, then Hamilton Laboratories' Hamilton C shell is a product you will want to order immediately.

Hamilton C shell is a collection of UNIX programs and utilities that helps re-create your original UNIX working environment. In addition to most standard UNIX features, Hamilton C shell includes enhancements applicable to Windows. The software implements more than 160 commands, aliases, and built-in utilities, including UNIX favorites such as tee and sed. Who needs Perl when you can perform all your file and input processing using cut, grep, and tr?

My test copy arrived on three high-density 3.5" disks. Disk 1 contains a series of readme files in the root directory, as well as two subdirectories (bin and sample). The bin directory contains binary files, and the sample directory contains sample scripts. Disks 2 and 3 contain only binary files.

Installing Hamilton C shell is a completely painless, although fully manual, process. To install the software, I copied the bin directory contents from all three disks to a directory on my system. I added this directory to my path so that I could execute any of the utilities from the command line. I also had to set a root directory environmental variable to point to a directory containing a copy of two C shell startup files, login.csh and startup.csh. These two files define your C shell configuration. Unfortunately, the software is not network aware; it automatically determines your root directory as defined in the NT user database.

As an old UNIX convert myself, I was excited about Hamilton C shell. After I installed the software, I immediately dusted off numerous C shell scripts I've written over the years and put them back to work. All my scripts worked with some minor modifications.

To launch the C shell, you can either create a desktop icon or launch the program from the DOS prompt. Once you launch the software, it will search your root directory as defined by the root environmental variable and retrieve your startup options from the two configuration files. At this point, you can use the program just as you use any other command shell, setting environmental variables, reviewing a history of various commands issued to date, viewing a list of files in your current directory, and so on. Screen 1 shows a sample session.

Each command included as part of the distribution contains extensive online Help. You access this Help from the command line by appending -h to the name of the command (e.g., du-h). I found that, in most cases, I had to pipe the output to the more command; otherwise, the output scrolled by too fast. The online Help for each command contains an exhaustive list of the different command-line parameters and various flags that you can specify to control the command's behavior.

Hamilton C shell supports Windows NT on Intel, MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC platforms. The Intel version also supports Windows 95. The product includes a 334-page user manual with reference and tutorial material. If you like the look and feel of the C shell under a UNIX box, Hamilton C shell is definitely a good investment.

Hamilton C shell
Contact: Hamilton Laboratories * 978-440-8307
Web: http://www.hamiltonlabs.com
Price: $350
System Requirements: Windows NT or Windows 95