Found a shortcut
I have eliminated the middle-man: Removed all Micro$oft rubbish, and installed Linux
Microsoft has revealed a new version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) – in the form of an app you acquire from the Microsoft Store. And the software giant will steer WSL users to this new version in future. Turning WSL into an app may sound a little weird, given that the point of the software was to put Linux right in …
I wish that was true. It's flaky and you still have to run Windows, but in a VM with whole host of issues it brings with it.
If you just use MS Office or run occasional game, then it should probably be fine. But professional software that requires low latency and access to certain hardware will not work properly - I tried.
It's just easier to have a dedicated PC for this type of thing.
“ there's software that runs on Linux that requires dongles?”
I’m pretty sure you misread that. There’s software that runs on Windows that requires dongles, and hence doesn’t like to be in a VM. Some of the crap we have to deal with even requires rs232 dongles, upgrading to something dongle-less would cost hundreds of thousands of <majorcurrency>. For one application. And we’ve got a couple, all driving large warehouses. For all that they do, they could just as easily run under your favourite *nix distro, but they don’t (and are not supported running in a VM by the way). So there we are.
But yes there is also unix software that uses hardware keys. There are still render farms where the core servers run a linux os and proprietary rendering software. Each physical server has a hardware fob. Clearly not FOSS.
Yes, everybody hates it, and yes, the hacked version runs faster than the legit one. But when they are subbing out the render farm, they don't need the BSA up in their grill, and bill by the cpu/hour.
I for one, will be happy if I never see another iLock as long as I live.
I have a couple Windows VMs tunning on a Linux host. One is an accounting program which is the 'server' in a peer-peer configuration with 4 users. It automatically gets snapshots taken of the system nightly and backed-up. In case of a host computer failure, I can move the backed VM to another host and be running again in less than an hour. To start from scratch with a fresh install of Windows on a physical computer, install the application, perform the updates and restore the data will pretty much take a day to complete. With a VM, a failed set of Microsoft patches are easily reversed by going back one or two snapshots. I personally can see no benefit to the Windows Subsystem for Linux. If I want to do something in Linux, I will use a Linux computer rather than the less reliable Windows platform with whatever bastardized concept of a Linux subsystem they have come up with. Is the Linux Subsystem going to be another one of the Microsoft projects they support for a couple years then toss the skeleton of another abandoned idea out the back door?
"It solves a very real problem (for Microsoft): how to keep corporates paying for Windows licences when their workloads are slowly-but-surely moving to Linux..."
Not as much of a problem as you'd think. The income from Windows as a percentage is a tiny fraction of their total income. In fact, the income for last year for their "Personal computing" division, which includes Windows, Xbox, Surface and advertising, amongst others was $15bn. Revenue from Azure was $14.6bn, and Revenue from their business and productivity division (which includes Office) was $13.6bn.
Don't get me wrong: Windows probably still accounts for billions of dollars a year in sales , but at the moment, Microsoft wouldn't be as massively impacted if Windows vanished from sale as they would have been even 5 years ago. They likely wouldn't even be worried,
I don't think I agree with you. Microsoft executives can not afford to leave money on the table by not extracting as much juice as they can from every device that has a processor in it. Remember they are accountable if they fail to maximize value for their shareholders. It's Capitalism 101 either you like it or not. It's not how much profit MS makes that matters, it's how much Wall Street believes they should make.
That's not capitalism 101, that's monopolism 101, and MS have been there before and got their wrists slapped. :)
Capitalism, as you say, means they'll aim to maximise profits* for their shareholders. If this means a move away from Windows as a primary revenue generator then that's what they'll do.
Windows has realistically reached saturation point many years ago, whilst it'll still continue to be a revenue source for MS (and generate more than it costs to maintain) it'll not be their primary focus going forward. The market for OSs has long ago been dwarfed by the market for services and entertainment.
WSL is a good example of this, it's not seeing windows as the product, but merely something that allows you to consume the product (Azure/Office), if they can keep you hooked by helping you run the stuff that doesn't run nativly, then why not. They're not worried about Linux posing a threat to Windows, as it doesn't really make sense anymore. If you want to use Linux in your 'thing' that's fine, just so long as your 'thing' talks to Azure along the way....
* Maximising profits is not the same as squeezing every last cent, that maximises profits in the short term, but actually providing good products/services that people want to use is the way to long term sucess.**
** Yes, I know... Oracle... but they're the weird outlier that seems to exist as though the 90s haven't stopped happening.
MS makes their rep, such as it is, on Windows. They make their money on Office and Azure. Seriously. Office alone accounts for at least 300% of Windows sales, Azure adds another 35-400%. At least. if Windows sales dropped to zero, MS would notice only when that started affecting Office and Azure sales. And recall that Office runs on Macs; the single most profitable department in MS has been, for _decades_, the unit which creates Office for Mac. Azure works with just about all OSes, including Linux. (see https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/linux-on-azure/ for more)
Large companies use business licensing and tend to be auto-renewing and locked in with Windows and, increasingly, Azure, anyway. MS cares little about small businesses or home users, except perhaps for gamers... who are locked in to Windows until the rest of the gaming infrastructure breaks away. That especially includes the video card and audio card people.
MS no longer has to care about Windows licenses.
WSL is a solution for the problem in the opposite direction; if you're running Windows as your main OS, but you still want/need access to some linux stuff even more easily than a VM.
That said, as someone who has Windows as a main OS but works on linux all day, I've yet to find a use for WSL that VMs or an SSH connection don't do easier.
I don't use it myself but have deployed it as part of a new Windows 10 image at a few places, the use cases given to me are access to some of the Kali tools for basic pen testing (although not all tools work in WSL) or quick way for devs to run Bash scripts when that's what they are used to, rather than trying to learn PowerShell.
Usually, in order to be relevant pen testing has to be done using the best tools even if it has to run on Kali. To do otherwise is to show you have no idea about pen testing. Anyway, even in the most radical Windows shop, security will approve an exception during pen testing so you can run Kali on it.
As for your second use case, why in the world someone would run Bash script on Windows instead of PowerShell ? And why would this be such an urgent need that Microsoft themselves would invest money and manpower in it when a VM would do just fine.
Usually, in order to be relevant pen testing has to be done using the best tools even if it has to run on Kali. To do otherwise is to show you have no idea about pen testing
In order to be relevant pen testing should be done by qualified professionals.
However, there's nothing wrong with doing basic testing yourself before dropping the cash on the professionals, then at least your report won't be littered with all the obvious mistakes that have been made.
Nope! The purpose of WSL is to show Windows users they don't really need Linux. In the near future, WSL will die a slow death in the app store because nobody needs it so why bother.
WSL was always a half-ar$*d solution for Windows shops to show they also support Linux.
Indeed but playing devil's advocate for a second, articles like this always elicit the usual responses around "Oh I ditched MS <insert timeframe> ago and have nothing to do with it anymore" and therefore the response of "This is what VM's are for" isn't really a valid response to that sweeping statement/claim.
All power to you. Glad it works well for you and there are no reasons to have anything MS.
Meanwhile, the more pragmatic amongst us realise and work withing most business environments that are far more heterogenerous and so at the very least will have VM's with Windows on - I even have colleagues who use Apple kit with Windows VM's as well as others with Linux machines with Windows VMs - usually in those cases though, to be able to run Windows-based Office (and specifically Outlook) as their corporate masters require.
One of my biggest beef's with Linux users (and I am one of them, if not a hardcore one), is this insistence that choice is great...but seemingly only if others' choices align with theirs. I have never met a Windows Admin/User be quite so rabid about hating on other OS's or their users decisions to use them.
... this insistence that choice is great ...
Although I sometimes think it can be rather overwhelming, it is great.
If you really need to run Windows applications, you have the choice of running it in a VM or via Wine.
No problem with that.
Just do not push WSL into the Linux ecosystem to do it with.
That's not a choice.
It is part of the well known MS embrace, extend, and extinguish.
"...Just do not push WSL into the Linux ecosystem to do it with.
That's not a choice..."
Why isn't it? You are free to not install WSL, no? I don't believe (unless it's changed lately) that WSL has ever been installed by default.
"...It is part of the well known MS embrace, extend, and extinguish..."
Genuine question - when did MS last do this? I can't recall them doing it lately - though in fairness that may be more to do with their incompetence than desire not to.
Genuine question - when did MS last do this?
Off the top of my head, Skype comes to mind as a recent casualty.
Always makes me laugh how in the fast paced ever changing world of IT 10 years can be considered 'recent'.
Also... what have they extinguished? Video calling used to be 'Skyping', it's now Facetiming, Watsapping, Zooming, Slacking, Discoring, Signaling, and probably a few others I've forgotten.
> Genuine question - when did MS last do this?
They seem to be on a mission to extinguish business productivity by forcing Teams on everyone.
[Icon: I'd like to use the joke icon but it's more or less true. So the gimp it is as that's how I feel caught between MS and $employer's happy-in-the-herd policy.]
I have known plenty of stubborn Windows Users (MS Surface Tablets are not good value for money!!), it happens with everything though such as iPhones, Android.
Like me, I am known to bang on about new features in email clients appear that were in in Lotus Notes or how I still prefer Blackberry Q10 for a mobile OS (Yes weird one me).
Edit: I am a Windows user (Although keep your hands off my local accounts MS, don't care about your "Store"), I did used to use Linux quite a lot as well and for me either OS has pro's and cons.
I'm impressed that somebody converted to linux 10 years ago. I tihnk I first encountered Slackware 25 years ago. I still use all current OSes where appropriate and I don't have a preference.
I have a preference for some applications that work only on one of the OSes and I don't need the overhead of a VM. It's really no big deal, I spend 1% of my time on a computer using an OS, to get to the application that I use for the other 99%. Being sanctimonious about which OS you use just makes me laugh. I'm not impressed.
It's OK. You mentioning 25 years in Linux doesn't impress us either. Anyway we're glad that Microsoft bowed to your pressure and gave you WSL for the 1% of your time that can't tolerate virtualization overhead.
Thanks. I didn't want to impress. I'm an OS agnostic is all, and I laugh at OS bigots.
And I don't use WSL, I just use another computer. I'm glad that you got that off your chest, the old mirror does hurt a bit sometimes, when someone holds it up to you eh?
"I have never met a Windows Admin/User be quite so rabid about hating on other OS's or their users decisions to use them."
Sadly that is the computing world's version of cork sniffing. Like hipsters who only watch Friends or Squid Games, guitarists who will only play vintage guitars and amps or the guy who has to buy the most expensive whisky/wine/gin/tequila etc in the bar and make sure everyone else there KNOWS he's buying the most expensive one, it's all about appearances.
Linux purists to me are like Porsche drivers, they all agree on what is best in general but not the specific flavour. 911 fans trying to agree on which one is best can be just as nasty as Vi vs Emacs.
"I have never met a Windows Admin/User be quite so rabid about hating on other OS's or their users decisions to use them."
I've met many Windows admins who rave on and on about Crapple and refuse to even contemplate allowing Macs on their network... and who get quite irate when Macs get on the network, anyway, without their assistance and despite their objections. And who refuse to support the Macs. And who then discover that the Macs tend to require far less support than Windows, which means that their refusal matters not a jot.
The same people tend to be even more rabid about about Linux. Anyone who knows Linux well enough to put it on one of their networks doesn't need support.
A common dodge is to require that all systems on the net have antimalware installed. Those kind of guys tend to be rabid MS-everything; MS makes a client for MS Defender for Endpoint for Mac. And for Linux. Cue heads exploding.
Back in the dim dark past, Mac OS X Server could be rigged to behave like a domain controller on Active Directory... That feature is no longer with us, and was never official, but it was there if you dug deep enough and _really_ caused gibbering. As it is, current Macs can be full members of ADDS networks with minimal configuration...
I get your point with the Macs, but at the same time Macs on a Windows network (IME) fall in to 2 categories.
1. Legitimate use. Apps that either are Mac only or are demonstrably better on Mac, usually (again IME) graphics/photo/video editing or similar applications. Usually managed by JAMF or something like that, so generally not my problem anyway other than things like making sure the users have the correct licenses and their accounts (user and computer) are in the right OUs and clearly marked as Macs.
2. Execs who want shiny. No reason for having a Mac other than the plebs don't have them or their squash buddies use them.
Got no problem with 1, do have a problem with 2. Similar scenarios many years ago with the early iPhones, where IMAP services had to be activated and ports opened on the firewall to appease those who had to have the shiny kit. Similar demand these days for iPads without any actual business case.
What that usually means is the underlying software is so old, that they're about 3 handovers away from the original dev and nobody can do any massive code additions, just bug fixes.
If you're talking about specialist hardware requiring specialist drivers, you're probably wrong there as well. A lot of what is perceived to be specialist kit is just an implementation of some existing chip from a larger manufacturer. What you tend to find is that the hardware is supported in Linux, it's just the driver goes by a different name.
Even weird obscure multiplexers and DVB streaming cards work in Linux from the likes of Dektec. Which is niche as fuck.
I've been at Linux-host-Windows-in-a-VM on my dev machines for a similar amount of time, but more recently have found it expedient to install Microsoft Teams and VSCode directly on the host O/S. Teams especially doesn't like running inside a VM, and I need it for work.
I would love to do that. Unfortunately, screenreaders on the linux are nowhere near good enough compare to windows. And me being a blind user and all, can't do without them.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that Orca, the screen reader which comes with linux, is maintained by just one guy last I checked. I'm sure that experienced users would be able to recount better stories of open source failure. But in my opinion, this one is the worse, given the impact on me and users like me.
EU anti-trust regulators forced Microsoft to give users a few choices and brought in revenue. It takes about a decade and any business starting anti-trust proceedings had better come up with a plan to last that long without any help from the courts. Usually the plaintive is long gone before the appeals are resolved so the fines effectively reduce everyone's tax bills. Give it a few years and the complaints against Google will show some returns... for Europeans.
“ EU anti-trust regulators forced Microsoft”
EU regulations in IT sphere were mostly useless. Including the demand to give users a choice of default browsers on install.
And don’t even let me started on stupid anti-cookie legislation that forces everyone to click “allow” every time you visit a website…
They are obviously determined to try absolutely anything to stop people doing a proper Linux installation and having dual-boot systems. VMs, WSL, WSL-as-app.... just don't ever let them discover what booting up Linux properly feels like, in case people start to question whether having Windows is all that necessary and find themselves choosing the Linux option more frequently and finding free alternatives to paid for Windows applications.
They could make Linux dual boot an ultra easy one click option if they wanted. But they really don't want.
Which with most modern bios, especially on laptops is very difficult.
I've run various linux distros on my my machines over the years, sometimes dual-boot, but mostly as the only os. I like linux & although I'm employed to write applications for Windows I prefer linux on my personal machines.
I currently have one laptop that despite having a decent sized built-in ssd, will only boot linux from a micro-sd card. After hours trying all the bios switches available that is my only non-windows option.
Another laptop doesn't even give me that option, it can boot from a windows installer, but won't touch anything non-microsoft.
A third laptop was dual-boot, but always reverted to windows only after patch Tuesday, so is now Mint only.
A new desktop can boot from a linux dvd, but once installed to an ssd, my preferred os is instantly locked out. That £900 investment has been reduced to acting as a cd jukebox under windows until I can figure out how to unlock the bios. I've set the various switches sufficiently to annoy the Windows 11 hardware checker, but that's still not enough to make MY COMPUTER boot what I want.
Another desktop can boot from a linux ssd that was setup by another machine, but won't look at a bootable usb drive containing a linux distro.
All of these issues relate to the bios blocking legitimate uses of MY COMPUTER. The only device I've bought in the last four years that will boot linux without fuss is my pi & that isn't quite fast enough for video editing.
It sounds like possibly you might be having trouble creating UEFI bootable USB media? Maybe try different software to create the USB stick from an ISO?
I've installed Linux Mint on a variety of different hardware with UEFI and Secure Boot, including Intel NUC, HP ProDesk, Lenovo ThinkCenter and various Shuttle machines with zero problems. Not many laptops though I'll admit.
WSL "the app" is part of the whole "Embrace Extend Extinguish" master plan.
I think we're currently on 'Extend'...
From the article: "and in the long term we'd like to move WSL users to use the store version"
a) entice us into using a CLOUDY Micros~1 LOGIN to run their CRapp from "The Store" (instead of native system and local logon)
b) strong-arm us into ONLY BEING ABLE to use the CRapp with a cloudy Micros~1 logon if we want WSL
c) EXTINGUISH TIME!!!
I see a pattern...
Yeah, I reckon that's their fear. So, making a serious effort to keep users using Windows, while giving away as little as possible to the reality that plenty of devs using Windows also need to work with Linux, at least occasionally.
MS needs to at least look like it's open to reality, whilst working hard to maintain it's hegemony. They can't be blamed for that, but we don't need to be impressed either.
Having just moved to a corporate environment and away from my nice Mac working one I am now on a Windows desktop and WSL is a godsend.
This is really the market that WSL is aimed at I think not the hobbyists but the Dev teams that are all in on Cloud and need the toolchain but at the same time need to follow corporate policy, this will probably take a good year to roll out to me as well. :(
Just out of interest what stops you SSHing into a separate Linux machine, VPS or VM as most dev teams would (no matter what their desktop OS)? Given the variable support for WSLg (which would be very useful to roll out Linux apps to Windows users and I've always suspected was the final intention) I'm guessing most people are only using WSL for command line stuff at the moment, which in my experience causes more issues than it solves compared to just SSHing to a real computer (where's the file system gone, why can't I connect to the IP address, how have the permissions got mangled etc)?
Xming or similar as an X server and you can run GUI applications across the network via 'DISPLAY'.
But I'd rather use Linux as the host and remote desktop for windows, if it had to be 2 separate machines. Then I could use Mate and NOT HAVE 2D FLATTY FLATSO McFLATFACE everywhere.
All sorts of cases. One would be loading a netboot server to update firmware onto a windows laptop so you can update the devices directly. Others might benefit from having a local linux instance they can push builds to and test on W/O the extra layers of a VPN and the vagaries of airport wifi. Others might want access to security/pen-testing tools that are non windows.
Depends what your scripts do obviously, but bash certainly seems to work just fine.
Not used cywin in a very long time, but there are limitations in terms of what you can do in wsl.
For example, I don't think cron works, you would need to set up a scheduled task in Windows and get it to run the wsl script. Mounting network drives doesn't work, again you would need to do that in Windows first, and then mount from the drive letter in wsl.
Baking in extra steps to make your life as a sysadmin, or as a user, un-necessarily miserable. Where have we seen this before? Literally everything since Win 7?
I occasionally look at the very cheaply available Win licenses and consider re-installing for the sake of a few titles. Then I see an article like this and am firmly reminded why I have avoided for so long.
Even some of the flashier professional software I use (e.g. finite element analysis) is now readily available on Linux. Many corp apps run in a browser, with just a few old leftover custom programs left over from pre Win7 - which I haven't moved over mostly because the cost of doing so versus staging them in a VM makes no sense.
Everything you didn't like about Apple's walled garden, implemented badly. Welcome to the new windows.
I do not envy our sysadmins that have to maintain a windows ecosystem for the time being. But I will bang the drum at every possible opportunity to try and start shunting stuff away.
At this point you can visualize most of the desktop OS version on most of the others. WSL is a useful option for people who work in windows all day and can still benefit from access to a local linux instance. It's just hyperV under the hood. Could use vmware or any other hypervisor, but WSL gives some tighter integrations youthat may help some people.
If you only occationally use window specific software you may be happier in OSX with vmware fusion, or under the *NIX of your preference with the hypervisor of your choice.
I was pretty happy with OSX and Fusion till I was forced to go to Big Sur. Now my windows and Linux VMs are running on one of my ESXi boxes till the new versions finally drop.
As with all other tools, pick the right one for the user and the job. If the job calls for slotted screws, put down the torx driver, and don't whine if some one else is using Phillips heads on their project.
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