back to article P-p-p-pick up a Pengwin: Windows Subsystem for Linux boffins talk version 2

The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 was one of the bigger surprises of Microsoft's developer love-in, Build. The Register had a chat with the team behind Pengwin to find out what the changes mean for devs on the platform. Pengwin (formerly WLinux) is a Debian-based Linux optimised for the original incarnation of WSL. The …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Based on comments on previous articles about this both these kludges solutions are to support enterprises that need Linux but mandate Windows. Perhaps it's the enterprises that need to be fixed, not Windows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can't imagine why you were downvoted for that, because it's 100% true.

      Signed,

      An employee of a corporation that produces Linux and UNIX software and has Windows PCs mandated for employees. The amount of hoop jumping and crap we have to go though to get decent remote build support from Windows PCs is ludicrous, especially when you include software licencing considerations because they won't pay a damn penny if they can avoid it, unless you're MS, Oracle, or IBM in which case they'll roll the red carpet out.

    2. taxedserf

      The enterprises are fine. It's the lack of usable enterprise end-user software in the Linux environment that is the problem. This is what keeps us enterprises coming back to Windows again and again and again. Even to the point of having to spend real hard money on anti-malware software to counter the shoddy security embedded into Windows' core design.

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Enterprises are fine...

        It's the closed nature of Windows that limits us. Adding their own version of Linux to run on Windows is the first nail in the coffin for Open Source. Anyone who wants free software development to continue needs to just install Linux and stay the hell away from this Redmond abomination.

        Open Source on Windows is like writing "Free Candy Inside" on a creepy van. It does not end well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Suggested to the Gates Foundation.

          I've emailed The Gates Foundation to suggest that they build a fleet of such vans, but despite several follow up emails, I've yet to receive a reply.

          Fork M$.

      2. Glen 1

        Re: reasons to stay on Windows

        I think the main one is outlook/exchange (and by implication office365)

        If anyone knows of a Linux equivalent that requires the same or less amount of admin, I'm listening.

        I would also include active directory, as paying someone to learn about LDAP is not exactly a high priority for most windows shops.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "It's the lack of usable enterprise end-user software in the Linux environment that is the problem."

        Did you actually read what I and others wrote?

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Exactly true

      There's two sorts of people on this thread and it shows in the up/down votes. One is the full on enterprise software person who's organization uses Windows, always has used Windows and probably always will use Windows. The other group are developers of non-Windows based products who have to use Windows because the first group mandates it. The latter are invariably relegated to second-class status by the former since they're just the engineers and other product developers and they invariably have to limp along playing Whack a Mole with workarounds to get their job done because their development platforms are really not Windows hosted, they use layers like Cygwin to run their tools.

      The problem is that as enterprises have increasingly locked down their systems and networks the workaround that the developers have used have been closed down (one person's workaround is another's vulnerability). The result is that its getting more and more difficult to do any useful work on a Windows platform -- or, more insidiously, the developers adjust what tasks they do to be not necessarily the ones needed to get the product done but the tasks they can actually do. Ultimately it knocks huge holes in productivity and the only solution is to either move to an organization that understands how to use Linux (which invariably "just works") or wait for Darwin to fix things (the job market's pretty good at the moment....).

      I think that Microsoft have figured this out. Their first attempt at WSL was a dreadful kludge that was all but useless. WSL2 may fix things but only if they can get away from their flawed user model and their awful drivers (MSFT still hasn't figure out how to do USB....). (This is why virtualization doesn't necessarily fix things....). The problem MSFT face is that if enough developers start using Linux they'll realize that there's absolutely no reason to have Windows -- most of the Office stuff is just playthings for Marketing, for example -- and if that dam breaks they're screwed.

      1. Geoffrey W

        Re: Exactly true

        I'm genuinely curious about one thing you stated in your screed:

        "MSFT still hasn't figure out how to do USB"

        What does that mean? What experience or reality lies behind those words? In what way does Microsoft not know how to do USB and, presumably, Linux does...?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Exactly true

          E.g. stuff like this.

          1. The Original Steve

            Re: Exactly true

            "E.g. stuff like this."

            Any reference that isn't from half a decade ago?

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Exactly true

              Yes.

              1. Geoffrey W

                Re: Exactly true

                Ta! So nothing for me to worry about then. Nothing endemic and baked in and unfixed since windows XP, which is the impression I got from the quote, just an occasional glitch which will be fixed, just like happens now and again with everything, microsoft related or not.

                1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                  Re: Exactly true

                  Was that sarcasm?

                  Windows has issues that have been around for 15 years with no fix in sight.

      2. Updraft102

        Re: Exactly true

        The problem MSFT face is that if enough developers start using Linux they'll realize that there's absolutely no reason to have Windows -- most of the Office stuff is just playthings for Marketing, for example -- and if that dam breaks they're screwed.

        They would be screwed if Windows is the be-all and end-all of Microsoft as it once was.

        Is it, though? It doesn't even get its own department anymore. When I saw how shabbily Microsoft was treating its own users after the introduction of Windows 10, I wondered, "What company treats its customers like this and expects to keep them as customers?"

        The only possible answer I could see at that point was that Microsoft has no expectation of keeping its Windows customers. To me, it looks like MS seeks to squeeze them for all the short-term profits it can, but to have them leave in the end. It seems to me that MS would rather cut itself loose from the baggage and be that cloud company it really wants to be under Nadella. All of this fear about MS sabotaging Linux, while completely justified based on the company's past actions, assumes that MS wants to be in the desktop OS market bad enough to try to knock competitors off their horses. I don't see any evidence that that's the case. Everything to me suggests the opposite.

        It's not that MS is now too "nice" to E.E.E. Linux... far from it! The "new" Microsoft, like the old Microsoft, will stop at nothing to reach its corporate goals, as they showed when they were willing to trick people into installing Windows 10 when they were trying not to. It's just that now their corporate goals seem to include being rid of software products that, despite Microsoft's pronouncements to the contrary, can never really be "cloud services." An OS starts with a kernel, and a kernel is too low-level to ever be part of the cloud. Cloud services run on OSes, but they are not themselves OSes. And the "new" Microsoft has little interest in anything that isn't a cloud service.

    4. Fungus Bob
      Coat

      I don't think any versions of the Enterprise ran Windows (well, maybe that NX class one). In fact, the later versions of the Enterprise seemed to use something that looked like the bastard love child of the "Unix" used in 'Jurassic Park' and iOS.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        SQL injections are still a thing though.

        That'll learn the Federation for using MS SQL Server.

      2. Glen 1

        LCARS does look suspiciously like TIFKAM

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        the bastard love child of the "Unix" used in 'Jurassic Park'

        That was IRIX, a perfectly respectable UNIX. Yeah, that SGI 3D file-explorer thing ("Filespace", maybe?) was pointless eye candy, but how many IRIX users actually used it? Probably a vanishingly small number. It's not like you were forced to use it; it was just a demo.

  2. PhilBack

    Hyper-V meh

    I need VMWare and have to disable Hyper-V for it to work...

    So WSL2 is not going to run on the box. VMWare runs Linux properly anyway.

    1. LosD

      Re: Hyper-V meh

      Yeah, that completely ruined it. When I first read about it, I hoped that it would mean being able to ditch Docker for Windows and its Hyper-V dependency, but no such luck.

      Beyond needs, Hyper-V being a pretty terrible desktop VM (partially due to it being type 1), and the need need for it to be the only running hypervisor (completely due to it being type 1), makes it terrible choice for basing anything running on a workstation on it.

  3. Sandtitz Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    intentional wording?

    "we think now is the time for enterprises to start embracing WSL"

    Isn't that's one of the dreaded E's?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: intentional wording?

      I have a better idea....

      How about if Microsoft makes a "subsystem for Linux" that runs WINDOWS APPLICATIONS better than Wine, RELIABLY, and I'd actually PAY for THAT!!!

      So long as they don't screw with the themes and appearance of window decorations, it'd be their BEST MOVE YET! You'd get Windows on Linux, or maybe even Windows on FreeBSD, and WIndows on Mac, and NO NEED to "Embrace Extend Extinguish" any more.

      Yeah but when you have that "take over the world" mentality, SANITY is thrown under the bus...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: intentional wording?

        @Bombastic Bob

        Er, I have had Winows on my Macs since forever. Both as dual boot and as a virtual machine.

        Cheers... Ishy

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: intentional wording?

      "Isn't that's one of the dreaded E's?"

      That was my thought too. They've Embraced, now they are Extending...

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Anyone want to guess ...

    ... what year will Windows = Linux+WINE

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Anyone want to guess ...

      see my post above, Microsoft could make it 2020 as a viable alternative to Win-10-nic

      it's what Windows _USED_ to be, right? Boot MS-DOS and run the 'win.com' to start it?

      I'd _love_ to have a windows subsystem running on my FreeBSD box with a Mate desktop and X11 [not Wayland]. That would ROCK!

      1. Glen 1
        Trollface

        Re: Anyone want to guess ...

        Windows will end up being a linux distro... incorporating Wayland and SystemD

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. DJV Silver badge

    I thought...

    ...Pengwin was named after Benedict Cumberbatch's inability to pronounce penguin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GHPNKUMf70

    1. Peter X

      Re: I thought...

      Anyone wanting to watch that bit, skip to 3:25 ... although, perhaps because I'd watched everything before it, it was a bit of an anticlimax for me.

  7. spoovy

    Hypervisor wars

    So it's a Hyper-V Linux VM, with a bit of desktop integration a la VMware unity mode. Or am I missing something? Seems like an attempt to push Hyper-V with no benefits to end users at all.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hypervisor wars

      Yep way less than WSL-1 which sort of made sense, te NT kernel was supposed to support multiple user space APIs - making Linux one of them. This is just hidden virtualbox.

  8. Jay Lenovo
    Meh

    Vaccine for Linux

    I just feel like putting Linux under Windows, is like putting the cart before the horse.

    It's there..(yay?) but the Linux we get is a steer and not a bull.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Vaccine for Linux

      at least it's not LIPSTICK on the non-oinky end of a BOAR [aka Win-10-nic itself] but hey, as long as we're going with the livestock comparison...

  9. Dedobot

    So , a countless Linux devs worked countless hours w/o benefits to build ecosystem to be exploited from enterprises making billions. Its sad and funny in a same time, isn't it?!

    Fellas, the "politic" is a "root" of all , everything other is less important in this world.

    1. Glen 1

      Like IBM and Red Hat?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

    .....that it may not have the reach to "extinguish" the Linux server business.

    I just can't see the typical enterprise customer (currently deploying thousands of Linux servers) "embracing" any sort of M$ product as a replacement.

    Or am I missing something?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

      "Or am I missing something?"

      Yes. A couple of comments on my earlier comment explained it, as did previous comments when this was discussed.

      It seems the target for this is individuals who have to use Linux to do their jobs, possibly working on cross-platform development but are stuck with employers who absolutely insist on Windows and nothing but Windows. It's a kludge to enable them to do their work on an ostensibly single-boot Windows desktop.

      It's a substitute for the sanity of providing employees with the proper tools to do their jobs.

      It's not relevant to Linux servers.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

        It seems the target for this is individuals who have to use Linux to do their jobs, possibly working on cross-platform development but are stuck with employers who absolutely insist on Windows and nothing but Windows.

        There must be some strategy intended to get more paying clients on Azure rather than just helping poor ignored employees who'd benefit from a 'Linux base to do things while forced to use Windows. There's little benefit in catering to this segment merely to make things easier as the corporate windows hegemony is not in jeopardy over it

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

          If devs move desktops off Windows and enterprises find out the house doesn't burn down after all, it sets a dangerous precedent. A previous cost which was thought impossible to reduce, the MS danegeld, becomes reducible.

      2. Malcolm Weir

        Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

        Agreed with your comment about servers, but this thing will solve problems for my customers, and trying to insist that customers could run Linux really because it's just as good doesn't work, even if it's (mostly) true.

        The simplest example (and this is only the simplest) is that it will make it practical to import media into Windows applications directly from a USB-attached XFS-formatted removable media volume. Currently, we can do this with a (VMware) VM, but the administration of that is a nightmare of kludge, as the end user has no interest in Linux (if s/he had, they'd just use Linux for the task in question).

        So what interests me here is the possibility of a relatively lightweight installer package that drags in "whatever" is needed to do the job...

      3. Adair Silver badge

        Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

        'It seems the target for this is individuals who have to use Linux to do their jobs, possibly working on cross-platform development but are stuck with employers who absolutely insist on Windows and nothing but Windows. It's a kludge to enable them to do their work on an ostensibly single-boot Windows desktop.'

        I know it's easy to say, but anyone working for an outfit that out of shear idiotic (and accountancy) dogma compels employees to develop in this kind of way needs to find a new job with an employer who actually knows how to think.

        This just comes across as a classic MS kludge -- ni a long tradition of kludges, which after all is the hallmark of 'Windows' itself.

        No doubt this will gain limited traction amongst the dinosaurs, but so far as 'Linux' and 'FLOSS' are concerned it's irrelevant. Never underestimate the power of the fork (and the raised middle finger). When people doing stuff at the bleeding edge of anything need to get things done 'Windows' is never going to be the logical choice of those who seriously need to have absolute control of what is going on -- from the metal upwards.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Embrace....Extend...Extinguish....Except.....

          "No doubt this will gain limited traction amongst the dinosaurs, but so far as 'Linux' and 'FLOSS' are concerned it's irrelevant."

          Couldn't agree more. From my point of view the Linux desktop does almost everything needed and for the increasingly rare occasions when it doesn't W2K in VBox is enough.

          But imagine if you absolutely had to do something that depended on Linux in JJ Carter's setup....

          Anecdotal evidence from other comments shows that there are poor sods working in those circumstances and they see that they are the target audience for this.

  11. HmmmYes

    Ah, versions.

    Therell be one, then another, then another.

    And bits wont work, not all of them, just the odd ones that are hidden.

    Then you need to down download a 10mb update, which is bundled in a 4gb package....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Downvoters Smoking Burning Plastic?

      Poorer enclaves of my region suffer high levels of theft of wheelie bins, by teenagers who set fire to them, then stand around enjoying the nice bonfire they've created. (Honestly).

      These are the only people I can think of stupid enough to downvote your comment.

  12. The Original Steve

    Golden rule

    As it's from Microsoft, don't even consider it until version 3 is released, and even then treat it as a beta.

  13. pip25
    Unhappy

    WSL 1 not going anywhere, except...

    No points for guessing how many new features we can expect for it in the future. A shame, because it seemed like a great idea, Docker kinda-sorta almost started working. WLS 2 seems to have next to advantages for me compared to running Docker in the "traditional" way, as both require Hyper-V and disable all other virtualization solutions (so I'm using the Toolbox instead... while I still can).

  14. MacroRodent Silver badge

    The next step in performance improvement for Microsoft WSL ...

    ... is of course run the Linux kernel on bare metal, and the Windows side in a VM!

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