back to article More Linux love for Windows Insiders with a kernel update

Windows Insiders have been given a bit of Linux love with the arrival of a freshly updated kernel and an all-important clock fix. Having yanked the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 out of the usual Windows servicing cadence, Microsoft's engineers have been able to update WSL 2 without requiring a full-on OS patch. The …

  1. Peter-Waterman1

    Windows Tax

    Yeah, we can all pay the Windows Tax to run Linux workloads!

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Windows Tax

      Every time I see news of this strange MS spawn anywhere, I ask myself over and over ...

      -------------------------------------

      -> What The Fuck For? <-

      -------------------------------------

      Anything "Windows for Linux" is nothing but a cancer out to get at the Linux ecosystem from inside out.

      But the writing has been on the wall for ages, only that the (intellectually) blind refuse to see it and find it all so convenient.

      One day it will be too late.

      O.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Windows Tax

        What's it for?

        Well, it's very convenient for developers running in a corporate network that's using Active Directory and Windows clients. You can have several entire Linux distros of one's choice on that client, and you need never bother IT for permission to put a Linux machine on the corporate network.

        I've very often used VMWare to host Linuxes on a Windows PC. It's just a guaranteed convenient way of having multiple Linuxes without having multiple physical PCs. WSL means I don't have to buy VMWare Workstation any more (though desktop apps are a problem still in WSL).

        These days I do all my *nix C++ development inside Visual Studio on Windows, and it's very easy to point that at some remote or local VM / WSL *nix target for build / debug. It works surprisingly well.

        1. guyr

          Re: Windows Tax

          Well, it's very convenient for developers running in a corporate network that's using Active Directory and Windows clients. You can have several entire Linux distros of one's choice on that client, and you need never bother IT for permission to put a Linux machine on the corporate network.

          Been doing that for well over a decade using Virtual Box. And VB has supported GUI apps - including seamless mode which displays Linux windows independently directly on the Windows desktop - for many years. So, what unique capability does WSL add?

      2. guyr

        Re: Windows Tax

        "Anything "Windows for Linux" is nothing but a cancer out to get at the Linux ecosystem from inside out."

        So you're flipping Steve Ballmer's famous quote now? Strange world.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Windows Tax

      Yeah, we can all pay the Windows Tax to run Linux workloads!

      Or, as I'm sure you can realise, one is free to take one's Linux workloads and run them on Linux, and there's nothing MS can (or wants) to do to stop that.

      They can't add a DRM module or something to Linux, unless some pretty weird shit happens in the Linux kernel development community.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @bazza - Re: Windows Tax

        It already happened, long time ago while nobody was paying attention.

        Secure Boot : https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UEFI/SecureBoot - don't bother reading the whole thing, just concentrate on paragraphs containing the word "Microsoft".

        So Microsoft can, wants and will do just that. Not stopping you from running Linux, just forcing you to pay for Windows and login with a Microsoft account to run their version of Linux.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: @bazza - Windows Tax

          I feel that your view is outdated.

          Many mainstream Linux distros come with secure boot keys burned in (see Wikipedia). It's useful for Linux too, after all.

          And, so far as I know, secure boot can be disabled on every machine out there if the owner so wishes.

          On reading your linked article and looking for "Microsoft", one generally also found, "signed by Canonical".

  2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Can anyone explain?

    Apart from MS' own Azure servers (customer demand and all) what is the use case for Linux on Windows?

    Really, "Pick a team!"

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Can anyone explain?

      Honestly it baffles me.

      Two really weak excuses I can think of:

      1) Visual Studio -> Linux tools (for some unknown reason, people like this).

      2) Docker (its like FreeBSD Jails / Solaris Zones... but changes daily like a child with ADHD).

      Especially strange because for a workstation / laptop that is about 3 years old, Linux provides better hardware support (i.e most manufacturers stop updating Windows drivers after a couple of years). So just install the proper thing and avoid some faff.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Can anyone explain?

        1) Visual Studio -> Linux tools

        Visual Studio is an excellent IDE for C++, it integrates very well with *nixes, and a lot of people have got very fed up with Eclipse CDT. I know I have. VS Code can do the same thing, and its free.

        1. karlkarl Silver badge

          Re: Can anyone explain?

          Its interesting you say Visual Studio integrates well with *nixes when it doesn't even run natively on Linux (or run at all on Linux).

          It also has no interest in supporting any other *nix than Linux.

          Also, VS Code != Visual Studio, so it isn't really worth bringing up that text editor any more than Notepad++.

          1. bazza Silver badge

            Re: Can anyone explain?

            It uses SSH to interact with toolchains and debuggers on a remote target. You run VS on Windows, but the code is compiled / debugged on pretty much any *nix platform out there. A nice touch is that you can have a lot of build configs, each one pointing to a different remote *nix, so it's trivial to build / debug across a whole variety of platforms from a single instance of VS.

            And they've done a good job of it; the integration is now pretty much seamless. Intellisense picks up on the remote's libs / headerfiles automagically. Debugging just works (unlike Eclipse, which is why I walked away from it).

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: Can anyone explain?

      I know one colleague that runs WIndows natively but finds his Linux dev work to have a smaller footprint. It is a bit if a niche case I grant you. For testing purposes though we would always use a full-fat VM though.

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Can anyone explain?

        Someone down-voted me for that? Do you know something about my colleague that I do not?

        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    3. Falmari Bronze badge

      Re: Can anyone explain?

      Cross platform development.

      I have used WSL a few times as some of our software runs on both windows and linux. It is nice to just build, then run and debug in both environments without ever having do things like copy files etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Falmari - Re: Can anyone explain?

        I do hope the applications you are developing are specifically targeting WSL for the end-user environment.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: @Falmari - Can anyone explain?

          WSL is a Linux; especially WSL2 onwards, now with a 5.10 kernel.

          Apart from the desktop M.I.A. you are running Ubuntu or Fedora or whatever in WSL; it's the very same binaries, there's no difference to it being any other VM, which in principle means it's indistinguishable from a physical machine.

          So, why would you, and indeed how would you, specifically target WSL as the end user environment? What special WSL-only calls are there? Interested readers would like to know.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @bazza - Re: @Falmari - Can anyone explain?

            Uniformity of the environment. You can be sure all hundred million WSL instances are identical instead of different distros with different quirks and flavors.

          2. yetanotheraoc

            Re: @Falmari - Can anyone explain?

            You asked:

            "What special WSL-only calls are there? Interested readers would like to know."

            From the article:

            "This bug," said Microsoft, "was fixed entirely by changes inside of the Linux kernel itself that are present in this latest version."

            Translation:

            There is now a WSL-only kernel call to update the system clock.

            As for whether that's a good way to treat a kernel, or indeed whether MS have done the same thing with other calls, I leave that to you.

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: @Falmari - Can anyone explain?

              The problem was actually caused by hitherto unknown bugs in Linux's HyperV drivers, which were fixed by Microsoft, and accepted by the mainstream Linux maintainers.

              The underlying problem was apparently fixed, but as a belt and braces addition it looks like the possible value of errno for clock_gettime() was extended to include ESTALE which, now that the problem is fixed, presumably should not be encountered by an application.

              That's not substantially changed the system interface for user applications.

        2. Falmari Bronze badge

          Re: @Falmari - Can anyone explain?

          We would use WSL while developing. We would not release the finished code to test with out testing on the various Linux platforms in a VM. Then Test would test on the same Linux environments.

    4. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

      Re: Can anyone explain?

      As some posters have said in replies to other threads, WSL is useful for Software Development and related.

      At my workplace corporate side of things is Windows/AD due to the powers that be, however all the "dotcom" side of things is docker/linux/k8s and the tooling for that is better / easier on Linux.

  3. Dwarf Silver badge

    Penguins for the Win

    Pointless.

    Things are moving towards serverless (so the OS doesn't matter) and in any case, you just run a VM if you want a full Linux experience but are encumbered by Windows on your physical device.

    Linux is like wigwam: no Gates, no Windows and Apache inside.

  4. amacater

    Why WSL on Windows?

    Corporately "secured" Windows device but dev. is developing for Linux - much more straightforward to do this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @amacater - Re: Why WSL on Windows?

      Sounds plausible but why bother when SSH sessions and VMs are so easy to use these days ? Microsoft is not working on this for the comfort of few developers, they're in it for big money (let's say big enough money to justify the effort) and that's where we should look. So, if anyone has an idea let's hear it.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: @amacater - Why WSL on Windows?

        ... they're in it for big money ...

        Of course, but not only money which they have plenty of.

        It's about control.

        So, if anyone has an idea let's hear it.

        Again?

        After all the IT world has seen from MS in the past 30+ years?

        I fail to understand that support of more open languages, environments, even OS's could be so naïvely seen as something useful to anyone but MS.

        From a post here at ElReg by AC (20180614) which sums it all up quite nicely:

        "Linux, Linux Foundation, R, Git, Atom/Electron, MariaDB, Python, Mozilla, RedHat, Debian, Gnome, KDE, ... are all being "disrupted" by M$. Their trojan horses infiltrate all important open source free software foundations and companies (EEE Nokia style). (M$ is a sponsor to all of these foundations! And Linux Foundation congratulated M$ for buying Github! WTF) ..."

        These are nothing but Trojan horse tools to do the same thing they have done:

        Embrace, Extend and Extinguish.

        O.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @amacater - Why WSL on Windows?

          The assault is actually wider than that. We've seen investment come in to buy up companies doing security or security products, and on closer evaluation those investors, VCs and funds are fronts for US outfits. In other words, there appears to be a concerted effort underway to subvert security in Europe by making it subject to US law via a legal backdoor.

          I guess that's plan B for when the technical backdoor ideas deservedly again gain no traction.

        2. NATTtrash Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: @amacater - Why WSL on Windows?

          Indeed. But let's look at the "compatibility" and "cross platform performance" of their other products, I mean, just as a love indicator. So how is that IMAP of Outlook working for you? Yeah, also blown away by that "let's plan a meeting" compatibility. What do you say? O365 documents? Ah, no worries, enough love for everybody to go around. We're talking productivity software after all...

  5. Lars Silver badge
    Linux

    Things change

    I don't think Microsoft is a threat to Linux anymore, it it ever was given where we are today. MS still owns the OEM much like before but is not big or important enough for threatening Linux.

    Things change, but I remember an article here in Europe then long ago that warned people of using Linux because swithing from Windows to Linux would put one million people out of work in Europe. Go figure was the scare perhaps that a Windows user would be unable to learn Linux.

    Then there was the "communist" scare, sadly that might still work in the USA. I hope I am wrong there.

    The simple fact is that Linux is a better kernel than the one Windows has, so if you cannot beat them join them.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Things change

      Perhaps not to Linux directly but the fact that they now own GitHub and LinkedIn is not good.

      They are manouvering themselves to own the "professional portfolio" space. At the same time they have relaxed a little off pressuring universities to peddle their wares through the MSDNAA, which I find odd.

      My advice is still to simply not engage with companies like Microsoft. Do not engage with their software. Do not engage with their services.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Things change

        They are manoeuvring themselves into that space, but is that really a bad thing, given what they're actually doing?

        They're now significantly OSS friendly, and a lot of their effort seems to be focused on OSS software and making sure the services they sell are OSS friendly. They've not ruined GitHub and, arguably, have become a good home for that. They've made useful contributions to GIT itself. One might not particularly care for C# and .NET, but there's no denying that the focus of that is on an OSS (with an MIT license!) implementation, not a closed source implementation, across all platforms.

        Arguably they're doing this at the expense of their traditional platform, Windows. I've not got the first idea as to what sort of application framework one is supposed to be using these days on Windows; WPF? Something with "Universal" in the name? I know this will eventually be sorted out, but it's interesting that "cross platform" seems to have trumped "our platform".

        The fact that there's a well-monied corporate that's actively putting effort into make devs' lives easier is a good thing, not a bad thing. Who else is doing that at scale, at pace? Apple? Google? On the whole, it could be a lot worse.

        Another company that I can think of is Amazon, though the impression I have (corrections most welcome) is that is all about locking devs and the software they write into running on AWS, and only AWS.

        1. blah@blag.com

          Re: Things change

          There are a few concerns here. I'm just an amatuer coder and some time sysadmin for Windows/Mac/Linux/Stuff.

          VS Code is fantastic until you see the telemetry sent back to Microsoft, you could use VS Codium I hear you say, but using plugins (one of the best features of both) also can send telemetry. Suposedly you can turn it off, but not for plugins as I understand it.

          Equally PowerScript is fantastic, I've used it as well as Bash, but it also sends data on your usage.

          If you are a corporate code flinger then Linux on Windows makes a lot of sense in removing a lot of contention with/within IT. Approx 15 years ago I had to run Linux in VMWare which was not ideal but worked up to a point.

          Lastly, what do we do when Microsoft aquires Canonical?

          1. amacater

            Re: Things change

            When Microsoft acquires Canonical - there's still Debian :)

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Things change

              Can't be long before MS announce Winux...

              1. Lars Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Things change

                @Roland6

                They can fork Linux whenever they like, like anybody else can too, but so far they haven't done it. That of course doesn't prove anything regarding the future.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @Lars - Re: Things change

                  Maybe they found they no longer need to fork Linux in order to control it.

            2. blah@blag.com

              Re: Things change

              I think you are missing the point a bit. MS always has an agenda, which is to use it's wealth and influence to garner yet more. Embrace and Extend is real and for good business reasons.

              I use Debian, I use Ubuntu, I use Busybox, I've used dozens of distros all the way back to Yggdrasil in the mid 90's. At the moment Canonical has a history of doing many good things, it's distro is fantastic but I'm not using it any more because of it's relationship to MS, it is a Bad Actor.

              Worryingly we also see MS's malign influence in Raspberry Pi OS in it's inclusion of VS Code repo by default, 12 year old Johnny Coder isn't going to know or care about telemetry if he installs VS Code but the rest of us should care.

              I'm not an MS hater, I've used their products all my working life just about, but if MS continues as it is and deepens it's relationship with Canonical then it will (badly) affect all Linux users and developers.

              In ten years time what if MS Office, Teams, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Active Directory etc all work natively on Linux ... but only on Microsoft Ubuntu ... what happens when there is a cut-down MS Ubuntu Community Edition but most of the world pays for MS Ubuntu Pro or MS Ubuntu Server 2030 ... and most of the world's developers create software for those editions because they have to pay the bills.

              I don't want that and neither should you.

  6. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Dave Cutler is spinning in his grave.

    And to think, Dave Cutler designed Windows NT to do exactly this kind of thing without requiring virtual machines or wacko shim layers.

    But then the Dwarves of Redmond went ahead and bloated everything into the Win32 layer, just like they did with Win16 instead of fixing DOS.

    These people are forever the kings of layering violations.

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