back to article Dev darling Docker embraces Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Docker has published details of what its container technology will look like for developers working on Windows, after the release of Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) that is currently in preview. WSL 2 takes a different approach than the existing WSL. Instead of redirecting system calls to run Linux binaries, …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Going where the money is

    The reason for this change of heart is the Azure platform, which means Microsoft can profit almost as much from hosting Linux applications as from Window

    There is probably already even more money to be made from hosting un*x* on Azure as hosting Windows and, over time, focussing on the Linux subsystem might mean that MS can get out of the expensive OS development game. In this you can see echoes out of Lou Gerstner's pivot with IBM away from OS/2 (wonderful though it was) into making sure that Notes, Tivoli, et al. ran on client systems.

    * For example, MacPorts has a CI instance running on Azure.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Going where the money is

      In this you can see echoes out of Lou Gerstner's pivot with IBM away from OS/2 (wonderful though it was) into making sure that Notes, Tivoli, et al. ran on client systems.

      Ok, but look where that's taken them now... IBM now are pretty much offering nothing other than to install other peoples' stuff on your systems for you.

      They've also got a reasonable ecosystem in gaming on Windows and Xbox; they're certainly never going to move that over to Linux.

      I can't see them ever ditching the Windows / Office cash cow. It's already really difficult to maintain both Windows and Mac versions of Office, but a Linux variant would be a whole new problem. For a start, what package manager should they use?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Going where the money is

        "It's already really difficult to maintain both Windows and Mac versions of Office, but a Linux variant would be a whole new problem."

        Hence the web based version of Office 365 I suppose (with the added benefit of somewhat reliable subscriptions).

  2. Gaius

    You don’t need to remote with VS2019, it understands WSL natively

  3. nematoad Silver badge

    Cut out the middle-man.

    Why talk to the monkey (Windows) when you should be talking to the organ-grinder (Linux)?

    This does seem to be a lot of faffing around must to keep MS in the loop.

  4. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    One way Microsoft might improve WSL 2 is to ...

    ... add support for virtio, including 9p filesystem and USB passthrough. But I am definitely not going to bet any money that they will do it - open standards are not really Microsoft thing :(

  5. el kabong

    "...obvious risks for the future of the Windows side"

    The future of the Windows side lies in its core functions being gradually replaced by Linux until what is left is a Linux core living under a windows user interface, the process is already under way and soon it will be also in full swing.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "...obvious risks for the future of the Windows side"

      I don't think it will go that far, but you can certainly see the WSL gaining parity with the Windows command line. Despite its many faults, Windows does offer some people some advantages over Linux.

      1. el kabong

        OS development is expensive business, one that can offer only diminishing returns

        Azure is now front and center to Microsoft's strategy, Azure is Microsoft's growth business.

        Windows' role is increasingly an ancillary one it's there to pump up revenue through Azure, Microsoft wants windows to perform that role as cheaply and reliably as possible. Microsoft does know a thing or two about business.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: "...obvious risks for the future of the Windows side"

        Which windows command line? It already has 3 that I know off: cmd.exe, powershell and developer command shell, all which work in a slightly different way and all are a poor facsimily of a unix shell.

      3. cream wobbly

        Re: "...obvious risks for the future of the Windows side"

        ... which pathetically, can be enumerated as follows: native AD and CIFS support, de facto office applications, iPod telephone support.

        Is it worth the risk of such a broad attack surface?

  6. boltar Silver badge

    Develop with Visual Studio for linux? Thanks, I'll pass.

    One of the bonuses of developing for linux is that you don't have to use that bloatware with its fecking "projects" and "solutions" files which means your project will only build in VS and endless different and incoherent ways to set compile and link options (including a pragma!). Thanks, but I'll stick with makefiles and if I need to add a compile option I'll spend 10 seconds adding it on the compiler or linker line.

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: Develop with Visual Studio for linux? Thanks, I'll pass.

      The article mentions Visual Studio Code, it is not Visual Studio, but its Rebel little sister written in typescript and running just as well on linux as on windows (the project with most stars on github). It has an excellent plugin system and cli interface. It uses intellisense and language server tech compatible with Visual Studio. I use WSL (or bash on windows as it is also called) as default.

  7. Long John Silver

    Baldrick's cunning plan?

    The Windows OS is becoming ever more bloated, cumbersome, and difficult to maintain. The last is evinced from reports of delayed roll-out of upgrades and of updates (ordinary and security) leading to new problems. Retention of legacy features, particularly superseded ways of doing things, must be a considerable burden.

    Windows is not Microsoft's most precious asset: that rests with associated trademarks and various copyrights fronting the Windows cash-cow. Given that customers are not permitted to peer at Windows' nether regions, the cow could be swapped for a bull and nobody need notice.

    Therein lies Baldrick's cunning plan. It is to scrape out space within Windows allowing an implanted alien ovum to flourish. This like in the animal kingdom where some insects lay eggs within other insects' bodies and eventually one or more free standing larvae emerge from the corpse of the host. Sleight of hand will ensure that the thing crawling out of Windows, that being a proprietary incarnation of Linux, is Windows so far as the world is concerned. This is accomplished by the embryo, formed from the ovum, gradually encysting legacy Windows attributes such that their requirements can't hinder innovation of the Linux kernel and of deep level software linking it to hardware and to Microsoft's proprietary layers ending with the user interface.

    Thusly, Microsoft need not be distracted from what's become its core business regarding office software, and a combined multimedia and vending platform for so-called 'consumers'. Expansion into advertising/government surveillance together with software copyright policing on behalf of client companies will be straightforward so long as 'security' updates remain mandatory.

    Meanwhile, individuals and institutions demanding full control of their devices and wary of intrusion will stick with real Linux.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Baldrick's cunning plan?

      While that's a fascinating image that you've painted there, I wish I hadn't read it while eating my breakfast...

  8. Steve Aubrey

    Nursery rhyme?

    First comes WSL

    Then comes Docker

    Then comes Kubernetes in a baby carriage!

    Doesn't scan, doesn't rhyme. Any guesses on it working?

  9. whitepines Silver badge

    Idiocracy was a documentary...

    I primarily want my source of truth (my files) to be on the Windows side of things.

    That is just about the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Not to worry, this "developer" will have a fine career in marketing after whatever latest windows ransomware encrypts his "source of truth" and he doesn't have the bitcoin to pony up for a decrypt.

    Or a stint in Her Majesty's finest accommodations, if the source was actually important and some malware got quietly inserted for deployment under the developers name.


  10. Zakhar

    What are the benefits?

    This is a serious question.

    Can anyone explain what would be the benefits of running a Linux VM on top of Windows to develop for a Linux target, compared to developing natively on a Linux box.

    I can clearly see the limitations, some of which are already acknowledged by Redmond: overhead of the VM, poor direct access to hardware, disk I/O hindered by a 30 years old file-system on top of which you must run "anti-virus", having to pay for the O.S. license, etc...

    Sorry if lack imagination, but I don't see where are the benefits. Can someone enlighten me?

    1. Glen Turner 666

      Re: What are the benefits?

      It depends upon your organisation. If you're tracking the development in MS Project, using Visio for diagrams, Sharepoint and MS Word for documents, then it makes as much sense to use Windows for Linux development as it does to use Linux for WIndows-oriented corporate applications.

      On the other side, Red Hat have done surprisingly well at making CentOS or Fedora into a good corporate desktop: it can authenticate via AD, do email and calendar with Exchange. So your point remains a good one.

      You've also got to consider the Microsoft side of things. Companies have some pride, and not being able to effectively program their own Azure product from their own Windows operating systems clients must have stung.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What are the benefits?

      You get a start button in the task bar.

    3. sum_of_squares

      Re: What are the benefits?

      Try rolling out Linux in a company of business people and you'll get the advantage..

      I am not really that much of a Microsoft fan at all but I was using WSL pretty much from the start and I have to say it's pretty good. I am sorry for RMS to see GNU core utils getting used within windows. But damn it's convenient.

      The bigger picture is of course that Microsoft has already started to pivot everything into the cloud. I can even imagine Windows will be more of a "software providing center" with stuff like MS Office, Visual Studio or even the Windows GUI running as proprietory "Microservices" on a Linux Kernel. It's basically what has been done for decades by Apple with their BSD-based OS.

      At the end of the day - does 95% of the user actually care about which system calls are made and the details of the way threading works? If Microsoft keeps the "Look and Feel" and successfully integrate it with the Linux ecosystem (where Microsoft has become pretty active lately) they con only win.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Microsoft's proposed architecture is akin to buying a thoroughbred horse to pull a caravan.

  12. Adair Silver badge

    A Transmogrifying Klein Bottle

    At what point does the whole tottering edifice collapse into a singularity, disappear from this space-time continuum, only to erupt elsewhen into a new and imperfectly formed universe?

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