Windows 10 Goes Native With Ubuntu - InformationWeek

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4/1/2016
11:06 AM
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Windows 10 Goes Native With Ubuntu

Microsoft has announced that Ubuntu user-mode code is now running as native Windows 10 software. Yeah, that's big.

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"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together..." And we can now add to the list "...and the bash shell shall run as native on Windows 10." (With deep apologies to Isaiah.)

In an announcement at Microsoft Build 2016 in San Francisco, the company said that the bash shell from Canonical's Ubuntu will run on Windows 10. That in itself isn't ground-breaking. There are a number of virtualization platforms and emulators that will give you bash from a Windows screen. The Cecil B. DeMille, Old Testament-caliber news is that bash is running as a native interface on Windows 10.

Let's look at what this means.

The two companies have worked together to create the Windows Subsystem for Linux. This incorporates all the Ubuntu user-mode code into Windows 10 by replacing the Linux kernel with Windows' NT kernel. Thought of another way, it means that bash is as much a native as Windows 10 on the NT kernel -- and that co-native approach has some serious implications for developers.

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For one thing, it means that code doesn't have to be recompiled to run on Ubuntu-on-Windows. The elf64 binaries that are created from gcc C compiler runs, for example, will function fine within the bash shell you reach from the Windows Terminal. From a development point of view, that's huge.

For another thing, it means that developers and system administrators accustomed to working in the bash shell on servers don't have to relearn commands or write new scripts for their work. They simply copy them to their Windows 10 machine and they're off to the races.

(Image: Curtis Franklin Jr. for InformationWeek. Individual logos courtesy Canonical and Microsoft)

(Image: Curtis Franklin Jr. for InformationWeek. Individual logos courtesy Canonical and Microsoft)

While the technology of this new mash-up is important, the more important piece of the announcement might well be the degree to which it signals Microsoft's admission that the world is not only Windows anymore.

In a relatively short period of time (a handful of years) Microsoft has gone from an official posture that included a Web browser that was only semi-compatible with the rest of the world to its current reliance on the cloud and integration of open source software into the very heart of Windows 10.

Developers and sysadmins who live mainly in Linux can now choose Windows 10 computers without having to worry about dual boot, VM, or code emulator products clogging up their workflow and complicating life. That makes life dramatically easier for a small yet critical niche in the market.

The niche is critical because it's where the "alpha geeks" -- the ultimate power users -- live. Those users tend to have an outsized influence on the other users in their organizations. If they say that Windows 10 is "cool," then Windows 10 becomes far more likely to be enthusiastically accepted by users who simply want the best system.

These power users tend to have an enormous impact on the purchasing managers in IT, as well. When the most software-savvy power users give their seal of approval to a system, it's a big deal in the halls and cubicles of IT.

None of this means that Microsoft is going to abandon Windows for Linux. But as a sign that Linux is now an accepted part of enterprise IT, even for those fully invested in Windows, it's in 40-foot tall blinking neon. If you look hard enough, you can see goats and leopards snuggling up by its big, rosy glow.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
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Psychologue324
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Psychologue324,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2016 | 2:41:20 PM
Linux > Windows
"Linux can now choose Windows 10" 


I remember the time when there was a war between Windows and Linux. My childhood..
SaneIT
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50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2016 | 10:02:07 AM
Re: W-O-W, wow, wow
The MS Build presentations really aren't for your base line users so the announcement that Ubuntu apps will run natively in a Win 10's own shell was intended for the geeks to digest.  What worries me most though are the script kiddies have a new attack vector into Windows, and if MS doesn't keep up on patching two systems now there could be some real messes.  Old *nix exploits could cripple new Windows boxes and MS will be to blame from all sides.

 

As for SP, we added a compatibility view list to our GPO to address this. It cut the calls down dramatically.  If you're working with people outside of your corporate network, then I'm afraid it's not so easy.

 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2016 | 10:04:47 AM
Re: W-O-W, wow, wow
@SaneIT, your use case not what I meant. I was talking about an enterprise wide deployment of Win 10 computers using apps that needed UNIX to run on. No question the UNIX world has a ton of IT tools that are very useful.

I was not planning on messing with SP 2013 for awhile, just got to it last summer. But after seeing how poorly it works with IE11, I'm going to take hard look at SP 2016 when hits general release this year. It's not just fringe stuff that doesn't work. I have views built on our ISO Doc Lib on each department and shopfloor workgroup Home page to just show docs for that area. That view does not work without Compat Mode, which makes no sense at all. It shows the title of the web part, the content area is entirely blank until Compat Mode. That's pitiful.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2016 | 8:32:58 AM
Re: W-O-W, wow, wow
@TerryB,

I'm laughing at the SharePoint issue because I run into this as well.  You would think that the framework that MS is building their portal presence on for Office would work best with their browser...  As for running Win 10 and Unix/Linux side by side, I guess I'm one of those crazy people.  From time to time I need a small utility to do a specialized task.  Cygwin has been the answer for that and I think MS recognizes that for every person who installs Cygwin and limps through running a *nix application inside Windows there are at least 3 who spin up a *nix distro and add to someone else's OS market share. Making it easier keeps people inside the Windows OS family. 

 
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2016 | 2:39:32 PM
Re: W-O-W, wow, wow
@Terry good points all around. Rarely leave Chrome to use IE these days. I don't think folks will be buying Win 10 for the sole purpose of running UNIX apps. I think this is a good will gesture toward devs. The option is available if you want to use it...
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2016 | 12:38:23 PM
Re: W-O-W, wow, wow
@Michelle, if anything IE is getting even more irritating. When you can't run Sharepoint 2013, the current version available, without being in IE11 Compat Mode, something is seriously wrong. Other than the new Extjs (HTML5) apps I'm writing, nothing seems to work in IE11 without Compat Mode. And I'm talking legacy on Win 7, not the Edge browser in Win 10.

I question the sanity of people buying Win 10 computers to run UNIX apps. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. How do you justify having support for two client o/s on one device?

Now, I have seen this approach for quite awhile now on the IBM i5 server we use. Since people were not porting apps to run on the i5os, IBM as long run both a JVM and UNIX shell on top of i5os so apps could run from those realms. But hard to believe Windows as reached that point. What's next, a native port of os/x? Android?
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
4/3/2016 | 12:34:20 AM
W-O-W, wow, wow
I remember those awful years when IE was the bane of all web development. It was awful and time-consuming to make things look good enough on IE.
"In a relatively short period of time (a handful of years) Microsoft has gone from an official posture that included a Web browser that was only semi-compatible with the rest of the world to its current reliance on the cloud and integration of open source software into the very heart of Windows 10."

I think this announcement will do a lot for Windows 10 upgrades. I've been getting notifications for a long time now and haven't wanted to upgrade. I have Win 7 and 8 on machines at home. Maybe it's time to make the move.
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