|See also Scott Hanselman’s blog here|
That’s perhaps a bit odd for me, as I hadn’t used Windows in nearly 16 years. But that changed a few months ago, as I embarked on a super secret (and totally mind boggling!) project between Microsoft and Canonical, as unveiled today in a demo during Kevin Gallo‘s opening keynote of the Build conference….
An Ubuntu user space and bash shell, running natively in a Windows 10 cmd.exe console!
Did you get that?!? Don’t worry, it took me a few laps around that track, before I fully comprehended it when I first heard such crazy talk a few months ago 🙂
Here’s let’s break it down slowly…
- Windows 10 users
- Can open the Windows Start menu
- And type “bash” [enter]
- Which opens a cmd.exe console
- Running Ubuntu’s /bin/bash
- With full access to all of Ubuntu user space
- Yes, that means apt, ssh, rsync, find, grep, awk, sed, sort, xargs, md5sum, gpg, curl, wget, apache, mysql, python, perl, ruby, php, gcc, tar, vim, emacs, diff, patch…
- And most of the tens of thousands binary packages available in the Ubuntu archives!
Did you catch that bit about /mnt/c… That’s pretty cool… All of your Windows drives, like C: are mounted read/write directly under /mnt. And, vice versa, you can see all of your Ubuntu filesystem from Windows Explorer in C:UsersKirklandAppDataLocalLxssrootfs
Meanwhile, I also needed to ssh over to some of my other Ubuntu systems to get some work done. No need for Putty! Just ssh directly from within the Ubuntu shell.
Of course apt install and upgrade as expected.
Is everything working exactly as expected? No, not quite. Not yet, at least. The vast majority of the LTP passes and works well. But there are some imperfections still, especially around tty’s an the vt100. My beloved byobu, screen, and tmux don’t quite work yet, but they’re getting close!
And while the current image is Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, we’re expecting to see Ubuntu 16.04 LTS replacing Ubuntu 14.04 in the Windows Store very, very soon.
Finally, I imagine some of you — long time Windows and Ubuntu users alike — are still wondering, perhaps, “Why?!?” Having dedicated most of the past two decades of my career to free and open source software, this is an almost surreal endorsement by Microsoft on the importance of open source to developers. Indeed, what a fantastic opportunity to bridge the world of free and open source technology directly into any Windows 10 desktop on the planet. And what a wonderful vector into learning and using more Ubuntu and Linux in public clouds like Azure. From Microsoft’s perspective, a variety of surveys and user studies have pointed to bash and Linux tools — very specifically, Ubuntu — be available in Windows, and without resource-heavy full virtualization.
So if you’re a Windows Insider and have access to the early beta of this technology, we certainly hope you’ll try it out! Let us know what you think!
If you want to hear more, hopefully you’ll tune into the Channel 9 Panel discussion at 16:30 PDT on March 30, 2016.
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