Distributed Computing Environment (DCE), designed by the Open Software Foundation (OSF) during the early 1990s, was created to provide a collection of tools and services that would allow easier development and administration of distributed applications. The DCE framework provides several base services such as Remote Procedure Calls (DCE/RPC), Security Services, Time Services, and so on.

Implementing DCE is quite a daunting task; the interfaces have to be specified in Interface Definition Language (IDL) and compiled to C headers, client proxies, and server stubs by an IDL compiler. When implementing the server, one has to link the binary with DCE/Threads, which are available for C/C++. The use of programming languages other than these is somewhat restricted due to the dependence on the underlying services, like DCE/Threads, with the result that one has to live with single-threaded servers when refraining from using C/C++.

DCE/RPC nevertheless is the foundation for many current higher-level protocols including DCOM and COM+. Several application-level protocols such as MS SQL Server, Exchange Server, Server Message Block (SMB), which is used for file and printer sharing, and Network File System (NFS) are also based on DCE/RPC.

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