back to article AlmaLinux comes to Windows Subsystem for Linux

A Windows Subsystem for Linux-friendly version of AlmaLinux has turned up in the Microsoft Store, adding to an impressive array of options for WSL users. Born out of Red Hat's CentOS shenanigans, in which the freebie downstream fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) was axed, AlmaLinux was created to provide a community- …

  1. Paul Johnston

    Serves a roll

    Whilst WSL may not be everyone's cup of tea I find it really useful. We don't have a managed Ubuntu image yet and using WSL2 allows people to run CFD tools like openfoam without having to resort to dual boot machines. If they actually need lots of raw processing power they can prototype on their laptops or desktops before moving to bigger iron. Most students have no knowledge of sys admin so why not keep that away from them unless they actually want/ need to?

    1. spireite Silver badge

      Re: Serves a roll

      Agreed. I use it all the time as I spend half my time in Linux.

      It's the best way rather than faff with dual boot.

      Used in combination with Windows Terminal.......

      1. Dearth

        Re: Serves a roll

        I don't understand the big deal. Why was this needed? Dual booting isn't difficult and is the best way to run Linux. Otherwise your Linux is limited by whatever code translates the Linux calls to windows calls. This means you might have an issue with a Linux program that only exists because you are running it in WSL.

        You also are sharing resources with Windows. So the more libs you load to get graphics and such, the slower it will act.

        Dual booting alleviates both issues. Your Linux environment IS the loaded system so it just works. All the RAM is available to Linux so it is blazingly fast and efficient. All Linux programs only need rely on the Linux OS instead of some abstraction layer. Thus if you have an issue with a Linux program, you know it's the program and not some unsupported call translation.

        Virtual machines are better than WSL too. At least you get the full loaded Linux system, even if it is siphoning raw resources from the computer like RAM and HD space that Windows could otherwise use. The syscalls flow from the app in userspace to the guest OS and vice verse, cutting the host OS out of the picture.

        Using a hypervisor is even better as it abstracts the actual hardware layer of the machine and double checks the permissions of instructions. And you can effectively dual boot a dual boot with a hypervisor. You could run VMware Workstation and install upon it OSx AND Windows, and then run maybe Win95 and Linux as OS-level VMs in the Windows side. The syscalls go directly from the app in the VM to the hypervisor and vice verse, effectively bypassing the guest OS in the userspace. But you would be able to check your app in all three operating systems with high reliability.

        And last but certainly not least, you can always live boot a USB image. You can even boot Linux by loading it entirely into ram so it is stupendously fast. Make it a persistent USB drive and you won't even lose custom settings in the booted Linux environment.

        A lot of companies would prefer the USB method as it doesn't change the host computer at all. Even VMs eat up resources long term unless you delete them after each use. Dual booting on company computers is a hard sell to some IT departments since you are cutting the HD into partitions they might not have access to. But booting from a live image on a USB leaves no traces at all. And again, it gives you the full Linux operating system, not a translated pretend version with myriad limitations.

        So why WSL? Why would anyone use it instead of one of the above three options? If you are a developer running Linux apps, why would you be in Windows in the first place such that you need WSL to test your apps? Aren't Linux developers that use Windows to code executed in the town square?

        1. MattPi

          Re: Serves a roll

          Couple things.

          WSL2 is a hypervisor now, it's not the translate thing that the old WSL did (where lots of kernel-ish stuff didn't work right. You can make an argument for WSL2 vs. a standard VM (Hyper-V, VirtualBox, etc.), which really boils down to your preference for better integration in WSL2 or the ability to have a 100% Linux VM with no changes. When I ran Windows more, I preferred WSL (1 at the time) for most things; even through it was slow for file access I didn't have to swap files around with rsync or VirtualBox's kinda ropey shared file system.

          I haven't dual-booted a system in a very long time. The main problem was the hassle of completely disrupting what I was doing to boot into the other OS. The other was it always seemed like I had to update something so it was never a quick transition. The only way I'd dual boot now is if one system was less than 10% of my use, was for completely different tasks (like games and work or something I guess), and absolutely required the full hardware support. Otherwise, I'd be running a host OS (ideally Linux) and a VMs (ideally not Windows) and just flow between tasks.

        2. FatGerman

          Re: Serves a roll

          Why use it? Because I spend 50% of my time requiring a Linux environment, and the other 50% requiring business-mandated MS tools with no Linux equivalents, that don't work well in a VM on my laptop, and that don't run at all under WiNE. LSW means I can run whichever thing I need without thinking about it. It's like the opposite of WiNE, in that it works the opposite way, and in that it works.

        3. cyberdemon Silver badge

          Re: Serves a roll

          Dual-booting is not "the best way to run Linux"

          The best way is to dispense with proprietary operating systems entirely, of course!

    2. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Serves a roll

      -> Most students have no knowledge of sys admin so why not keep that away from them unless they actually want/ need to?

      | sed s'/students/linux users/'

      I'll tell you why I disagree with you. I see a lot of miserable script kiddies trying, day in and day out, to break in/look for pathetic vulnerabilities/etc/etc/etc on our systems. In a LOT of cases, if we just turn round and try to connect to port 22 on those machines, we see they are Linux machines. They are out there on the internet, presumably put there by people who 'have no knowledge of sys admin'. Yet they have been led down this rabbit hole by people who mislead them with false information about Linux simply being more secure (than Windows, for example). Maybe it is, but not without 'knowledge of sys admin'.

      Please do not encourage people to be bumble-headed Linux users. Sys admin is an important function of running a UNIX/Linux machine, and don't try to pretend otherwise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @VoiceOfTruth - Re: Serves a roll

        Or maybe because they don't want to unnecessarily spend dollars to buy Windows licences. I've got many second hand laptops, computers I've built myself and dozens of virtual machines, do you think I'd buy a Windows licence for each and any of them ?

        I'd say you're making too many assumptions (Linux users are lame script kiddies just because you found a TCP-22 port open on their machines). You're also confusing sysadmin with security admin knowledge because even in Windows world, system administration and security administration are different jobs, requiring different skills.

        1. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: @VoiceOfTruth - Serves a roll

          -> Or maybe because they don't want to unnecessarily spend dollars to buy Windows licences.

          As they are students, they probably have other needs for their dollars. Like beer and smokes and unusual herbs. Not to mention tuition fees.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: unusual herbs

            After which they probably fancy a few rolls.

            <pedant>Of the bready variety rather than the type conventionally written "role" (possibly with a circumflex over the O).</pedant>


      2. Paul Johnston

        Re: Serves a roll

        Best of luck with that. We have students paying huge amounts to study an engineering discipline. To tell them that they have to spend a shed load of time in the operating system realm when they are only concerned with the application level just isn't going to happen. Sometimes we forget that end users are end users. It's not slagging them off, just realising for them it is a tool to and end and not the end game itself.

        1. Mike_R

          Re: Serves a roll

          Take an example:

          An automobile driver can use a car having *NO* mechanical or engineering aptitude.

          But a person with such aptitude/training/knowledge will, in the long run, be a better/safer/more efficient driver.

          Similarly a computer user with a certain minimum knowledge of how his/her system works will probably be a more efficient user.

          ...Based on some decades of experience with users who were trained to use applications, with nothing but the slightest understanding of the underlying system.

    3. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Serves a roll

      "Most students have no knowledge of sys admin so why not keep that away from them unless they actually want/ need to?"

      They need to learn how to some sort of computer if they plan to progress into an IT related career. Windows has regressed into a locked down consumer toy so they might as well learn Linux instead.

      Learning how to use Linux is very different from SysAdmin related learning so don't worry, they won't waste their time with that unless they specifically want to specialize in it. All those people using UNIX back in the day weren't exactly system administrators were they?

      1. Paul Johnston

        Re: Serves a roll

        Sorry didn't specify enough these are not people wanting to go into IT, per se CFD is computational fluid dynamics.

  2. MacroRodent

    Devs chained to Windows

    Article: "particularly for developers in environments that have standardized on RHEL but prefer Windows for their code-wrangling tools."

    A more likely use-case is developers in corporations where everyone is forced to work on a Windows desktop, despite developing for Linux-based environments. Linux does not lack development tools, and it is more efficient to work on the same or very similar system as your target. No "impendance matching" problems with file handling, for example.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Devs chained to Windows

      Chained to windows is one correct response. My corporate Windows laptop has all the crap on it you'd expect and runs like a 2 legged dog because of it. WSL manages to avoid the antivirus, avoid the policy that logs to event log everytime you read the java binary (more than you'd think). The tools I need generally work straight from the package manager. It's a life saver.

      You'd expect it to be slower but given it avoids windows it's actually considerably faster in WSL. Builds complete in 1/3 the time and a big test pack we often run takes 2 hours on windows takes 45 mins running exactly the same thing on WSL.

      Literally stops me from going crazy waiting for a 2022 i9 that's slower to build on windows than on my 2015 i7 Ubuntu desktop machine.

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