back to article Microsoft gives unexpected tutorial on how to install Linux

Microsoft has published guidance on how to download and install Linux. In other news, Hell freezes over and pigs fly south to their winter feeding grounds. The Seattle-area proprietary OS vendor has published a helpful guide entitled "How to download and install Linux," inspiring reactions from incredulity to amusement. In …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge
    Coat

    We feel we must ask: couldn't this have been done as a kernel personality instead?

    And risk insanity when you hit the limit on multiple personalities with so many distributions available?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Choices?

      We already know their choice would be an in-house built Linux distribution or Ubuntu. Either would be quite smart of Microsoft.

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Choices?

        All right, whoever told Microsoft about how to load Linux. My office, NOW!

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Choices?

        They do seem to be getting on with Ubuntu / Cannonical pretty well.

        I wonder if MS will buy Cannonical. If they bought it and ran it like they do Mojang (i.e. completely hands off, but able to access the resources of the mothership), that could work out quite well. And Cannonical have got good developers - always an asset in a software house.

        1. aqk
          Windows

          Re: Choices? Edge?

          Then Canonic....uh, MS could replace that dratted Firefox with Edge.

    2. chasil

      NT "Personalities"

      In this case, "personalities" does not refer to the plethora of Linux distributions, but instead to the NT kernel API interfaces.

      NT was originally written as a foreign kernel (reimplementing VMS in C), meant to assume Win16/32, OS/2, and POSIX "personalities."

      'Broad software compatibility was initially achieved with support for several API "personalities", including Windows API, POSIX, and OS/2 APIs – the latter two were phased out starting with Windows XP. Partial MS-DOS and Windows 16-bit compatibility is achieved on IA-32 via an integrated DOS Virtual Machine – although this feature is not available on other architectures.'

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_NT

      I understand that PostgreSQL will run better under Linux emulation because fork() is faster than the native Windows equivalent. I wonder how that was implemented under the "LXSS" service mentioned in the parent article, as opposed to directly interfacing with the NT kernel as the POSIX system did.

      Assuming a stable system call interface, (modern) NT is able to run many Linux distributions. My Windows 10 PC at work tells me that the following are available:

      C:\>wsl.exe -l -o

      The following is a list of valid distributions that can be installed.

      The default distribution is denoted by '*'.

      Install using 'wsl --install -d <Distro>'.

      NAME FRIENDLY NAME

      * Ubuntu Ubuntu

      Debian Debian GNU/Linux

      kali-linux Kali Linux Rolling

      Ubuntu-18.04 Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

      Ubuntu-20.04 Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

      Ubuntu-22.04 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

      OracleLinux_7_9 Oracle Linux 7.9

      OracleLinux_8_7 Oracle Linux 8.7

      OracleLinux_9_1 Oracle Linux 9.1

      openSUSE-Leap-15.5 openSUSE Leap 15.5

      SUSE-Linux-Enterprise-Server-15-SP4 SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4

      SUSE-Linux-Enterprise-15-SP5 SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP5

      openSUSE-Tumbleweed openSUSE Tumbleweed

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: NT "Personalities"

        If Windows NT was really based on VAX/VMS, then why, for the love of all that is sensible and wholesome, did it ditch the one absolute killer feature of VMS -- file version numbers?

        Everyone (except VAX users .....) has accidentally overwritten a file. As a feature, it literally sells itself.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: NT "Personalities"

          [Author here]

          > file version numbers

          I miss those very much myself, and TBH they are all I need. Given that, Git could die in a fire and I'd not miss it.

          But I think I'd have to argue that VMS clustering was a bigger killer feature than versioned files! :-)

    3. david 12 Silver badge

      Yes, it did result in better integration. But it resulted in a slower file system, so it was replaced with WSL2

      Personally, I don't want my OS to be sandboxed: my work involves bare-metal integration. But I'm a minority, and more people just wanted Docker to run faster.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I don't have a W7 instance I could try this on but the download link in the Which article appears to work in that it downloads an exe file.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      I would expect existing Win7 machines are either folks who will not change at all, or for El Reg readers are machines kept on win7 for a very good reason so no desire to change them and not used for web/email/running anything downloaded/ sort of cases.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        My SiL has a W7 machine and uses nothing beyond the web browser (including email) and Excel. A few months ago she had a look at W10 & decided it would be too different for her to upgrade.

        1. djnapkin

          A few months ago she had a look at W10 & decided it would be too different for her to upgrade.

          Why not install Open Shell for her? It makes nearly all of the pain of W10 go away.

          1. simonlb Silver badge

            Or she could stay on Win7 and avoid all that pain in the first place.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I have finally moved to W10 after my old W7 computer died, and I can confidently say that no, Open Shell only removes a tiny fraction of the bullshit that Windows 10 adds.

            1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

              [Author here]

              > Open Shell only removes a tiny fraction of the bullshit that Windows 10 adds.

              Disclaimer: *not* a regular Windows user. But I have been a Windows user/sysadmin/support guy since Windows 2.01.

              I have tried OpenShell. I agree with this statement: it is "weak sauce" (I believe the cool kids say) and it doesn't do much to enhance Win10.

              But saying that, Win10 is _so_ much more pleasant to use than Win11... Ick.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Why not install Open Shell for her? It makes nearly all of the pain of W10 go away."

            I think you underestimate the situation.

            Her desktop is littered with icons for all sorts of things including email, most of which seem to be invocations of ie to open specific sites. There's no way I'd start to replicate all that and I suspect there's no way she'd want to do so either. It still would look different even if that were done*. From my point of view it's a matter of quietly tip-toeing backwards out of the room.

            BTW she has a degree in physics - from the early 1970s as far as I can recall.

            * I could, of course, fake up a Linux desktop to present a reasonable facsimile of either 7 or 10.

            1. aqk
              Thumb Up

              reasonable facsimile of either 7 or 10.?

              Heck, even Ubuntu offers a Mint desktop option at login time.

              1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                Re: reasonable facsimile of either 7 or 10.?

                [Author here]

                > Heck, even Ubuntu offers a Mint desktop option at login time.

                Er, what? No it doesn't.

                There's no love lost between Ubuntu and Mint.

                Are you perhaps thinking of the GNOME Classic desktop? That's an option that has to be manually installed. It's not there by default.

                It is on Fedora but it never has been on Ubuntu.

        2. Edward Ashford

          I moved the non technical missus to Ubuntu with Chrome and LibreOffice Calc. She doesn't use macros; your mileage may vary.

          Daughter is growing up bilingual. Her home laptop is Ubuntu.

      2. Marty McFly Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Win10 is undeniably a different operating system. And it has a version that is numerically higher than the previous release.

        I just don't understand why it is continually referred to as an "upgrade".

        1. rmacd

          Further, it's the fact that it tries to force so many integrations for absolutely no reason.

          My Windows partition (which I only boot into once in a blue moon) is constantly screaming at me to log into Microsoft online services.

          I ran through all the GPOs and disabled anything remotely online-cloud-remote-integration-related.

          Now it's throwing an error for being unable to log into the online services. Particularly of issue re MS Office. Just leave me to use Office in peace!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Block MS

            The windows hosts file is very useful for blocking these online services

  3. 43300 Silver badge

    It was the case that an in-place upgrade of an activated W7 or W8 installation would work and activate. A clean install wouldn't activate initially, but round about 2016 they changed that and any valid retail or OEM W7 or 8 key could be used to activate it (not a volume license one, although an in-place upgrade from a volume licensed W7 install did work).

    Not tried any of the above for ages, so can't say whether or not it actually has stopped working.

    1. DaveMcM

      The clean install with previous version licence key still works great - I recently installed Windows 11 Professional on a new VM and successfully activated it with an old Windows 8 Professional retail licence key I had lying around. Depending how recently that licence key was associated with an activated windows installation you occasionally have to go through some additional hoops to confirm that licence isn't in use anywhere else, but it's always activated for me.

  4. juice

    At this point...

    I'm surprised Microsoft hasn't gone the whole hog and made Windows entirely free - or at least, free for personal use.

    As with Google and Chrome, the OS these days is mostly just a framework into which you can bolt your other chargable services into, ideally with a large dusting of adverts atop.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: At this point...

      MS have sort of made Windows free for personal use, if you install Windows 10 and don't put in a product key at all to activate, it will still function perfectly well, getting security updates and even feature updates. The only way you would even notice it wasn't activated is a watermark in the bottom right of your desktop and you are unable to set a background image.

      Ive had a Windows 10 VM set up like that for a couple of years and unless MS change something in the future it appears it will carry on working without activation, and if they do change it I will probably just nuke the VM as i use Linux as my daily driver now.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: At this point...

        Windows Server does pretty much the same

      2. aqk
        Big Brother

        Re: At this point...

        re- and you are unable to set a background image.....

        Unable to do a lot of things. I finally installed an "inexpensive" copy of Win-11 with a license.

    2. Cruachan

      Re: At this point...

      There was a completely free version for a while, Windows 7 with Bing or something like that IIRC. I had a cheap little tablet connected to the TV running it for a while.

  5. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    WSL 3

    It's only natural that WSL 3 should be a Windows add-on for Linux - something similar to Wine.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: WSL 3

      Downvoted because 15 years on. and WINE is pretty much as good as it was on day 1.

      Two weeks ago I wouldn't have given a ****. Then I wasted a day trying to install .NET under WINE with zero success. Despite trying everything the internet could suggest.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: WSL 3

        [Author here]

        > Then I wasted a day trying to install .NET under WINE

        Your words, not mine.

        Mine are here:

        https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/17/dotnet_6_ubuntu/

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: WSL 3

          Wine cannot install the CTL Office apps (so far as I've found anyway - spent several days fiddling with it trying to get it to work), which is a pretty major issue these days.

          1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: WSL 3

            [Author here]

            > Wine cannot install the CTL Office apps

            What is CTL Office when it's at home?

            1. 43300 Silver badge

              Re: WSL 3

              Typo - should have been CTR - Click-to-run - basically the installation method used by all recent versions of MS Office (so far as I remember Office 2016 was the last one which had an MSI installer which Wine may have been able to use).

              1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                Re: WSL 3

                > should have been CTR - Click-to-run

                Ah, OK. I haven't seen or tried this, so I can't comment.

                I have spent some time trying to get OneNote to run under WINE. AFAIK it's the only bit of Office 365 that is freeware.

                I can't find a standalone offline installer. I suspect there isn't one, whereas in fact, there is some flabby online-installer thing that depends on half of Windows.

                My cynical suspicion is that this is because if there were one, it would work fine on WINE, and MS is terrified that people would see that.

                1. 43300 Silver badge

                  Re: WSL 3

                  Not tried it for a while, but I think these are the steps to get an offline installer:

                  https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/use-the-office-offline-installer-f0a85fe7-118f-41cb-a791-d59cef96ad1c#OfficePlans=signinorgid

                  They don't make it easy!

                  So far as I recall I did try this a while back (Wine running on Ubuntu) and I couldn't get it to install. The standard installer, which pulls most of the payload down during installation, definitely didn't work.

                  1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                    Re: WSL 3

                    [Author here]

                    > Not tried it for a while, but I think these are the steps to get an offline installer:

                    There are steps -- I have seen some different ones -- for OneNote but the ones I've seen start with "insert your Office install DVD, and type *blah...*"

                    That is no help because I don't have an Office DVD, because I detest Office >= 2007, and I don't run Windows.

                    OneNote is meant to be free and is offered and promoted as a free download. It is bundled with some versions of Windows.

                    To clarify and amplify the point I am trying to make:

                    I suspect, but cannot prove, that these days the compatibility of WINE is good enough to run many flagship MS applications unmodified.

                    By which I mean, standalone isolated apps, not Windows add-ins which add or change the functionality of the Windows OS, such as OneDrive and quite possibly SharePoint. And to clarify that: for example, if it adds new drive letters, that counts as extending the OS -- and WINE cannot emulate such functions on Linux because Linux doesn't *have* drive letters.

                    This being the case, Microsoft has been forced into finding other ways to render some things impossible or very difficult. If the installer runs, and successfully installs the app, and the app runs and can open and save files, and print, and that is all you need for minimal viable functionality, then if that works under WINE, then MS has a problem: you don't need its OS to run its apps.

                    So, what can it do to stop people using it under WINE?

                    It can make it impossible to *install* instead of to *run*. For example by making an installer that needs non-core Windows functionality, say by needing to dynamically fetch and install Windows extensions during installation.

                    Hypothetically an app written in .NET might run on .NET on non-Windows OSes. An app that calls .NET code to connect to a database might run under WINE if that connection is available somehow.

                    But if you can't install that app without installing a newer .NET module on the fly, then it can't run and so it can look like it's incompatible with WINE. The app _would_ run but if you can't install it, you don't know that.

                    I have encountered Redditors asseting that Office doesn't run on WINE because a bunch of these Windows extensions don't run. From their POV, it's true, because they do not have the skills to go through the installer and do a custom installation and remove all those bits that are Windows extensions. They don't know how to ID parts that are OS extensions and parts which are standalone apps.

                    I do have those skills; I've been supporting some of the MS Office apps since they ran on DOS.

                    So, for me, it's possible that I could install the suite on WINE and run it. For me, it is compatible. For them, it isn't.

                    But I don't have any current versions to test this theory on, because after 20 years, I stopped using the suite 15 years ago when they broke the UI.

                    1. 43300 Silver badge

                      Re: WSL 3

                      "I suspect, but cannot prove, that these days the compatibility of WINE is good enough to run many flagship MS applications unmodified."

                      Well, I'd be interested to hear if anyone has managed it because when I last looked at various forums nobody had got the CTR versions to work under Wine, so far as I could see. There were reports of getting the MSI installer version to work, but that hasn't been available since the 2016 release of Office - later ones (2019, 2021 and the subscription version) are all CTR, and actually use the same installer - there's just a line in the XML config file to tell the installer which one to install.

                2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: WSL 3

                  "I have spent some time trying to get OneNote to run under WINE."

                  The W10 installation on one of my laptops couldn't run it either. When it booted up it complained about a wrong dll or the like. After a lot of patch Tuesday cycles I noticed it stopped complaining. Whether it works I know not. I'm tempted to look at the possibility of creating a Tb's worth of random words - or select a few random words, arrange them in loose associations and embed copies of them in more random words. Just to add a little data to MS's data mining.

                  That reminds me, I must check to see if it's monthly patching run has finished yet. It's been going several hours. The Devuan run took about quarter of an hour.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: WSL 3

              Malfunctioning under WINE?

              :)

      2. Eecahmap

        Re: WSL 3

        Wine is far better now than it was on day one.

        Today it can run quite a number of games very well.

        This is how I use it, via the Lutris wrapper.

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: WSL 3

      I was thinking that - WSL is a reverse wine. They should have called it ENIW instead - "Enabling New systems In Windows"

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I know how to enable a new system in Windows !

        It's called FORMAT C:

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Perhaps recommending Chrome OS Flex as a replacement for macOS is a step too far even for Microsoft just yet."

    It's possible they're trying to edge their business to a Microsoft equivalent of this - it's just that they expect you to run their web services rather than Google's and don't really mind if you do that from Linux.

  7. wolfetone Silver badge
    Linux

    Has anyone checked in on Steve Ballmer?

    Must be hard for him to see this Linux cancer so widespread at Microsoft.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > Must be hard for him to see this Linux cancer so widespread at Microsoft.

      Nah, not really.

      Don't be deceived by the surface chrome. Look through the shiny layer of hype and focus on what's underneath.

      Windows doesn't interoperate with GRUB. Install Windows on a box with Linux and Linux won't boot any more. Linux can mount Windows partitions, but Windows can't mount Linux partitions. It will cheerfully offer to format them, though.

      Microsoft loves Linux like a boa constrictor loves rats. Look, it's hugging its little furry friend!

      It's just embracing it... and extending it.

      1. R Soul Silver badge

        embrace and extend?

        Don't you mean "embrace and engulf"? Because that's always been the Microsoft way.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: embrace and extend?

          Microsoft once had a strategy they called "Embrace, extend, and extinguish", which became a catchphrase for many people.

          (See also IBM's 'FUD' for an earlier example)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: embrace and extend?

            That's not "once had", it's "has and still deploys". Just look at all the Linux "support" and see where that is leading.

            Overly fat leopard, spots and so on..

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        "Linux can mount Windows partitions, but Windows can't mount Linux partitions. It will cheerfully offer to format them, though."

        Sure Windows can mount Linux partitions, but you need 3rd party software for that.

        But I'm sure you knew that already.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          [Author here]

          > you need 3rd party software for that.

          Indeed; I had Paragon's free tools on one box and they worked well. I also found a Btrfs driver that worked really surprisingly well. It's so good you can even _install Windows on Btrfs!_

          https://www.lilysthings.org/blog/windows-on-btrfs/

          But that's not the point. The point is that if "Microsoft <3 Linux" were actually *true* then MS's OS would play nice when you install it next to Linux...

          But it doesn't. Which clearly illuminates that the cuddly marketing buzzphrase is just another lie.

          1. chasil

            WinBtrFS

            It would be very pleasant if Microsoft abandoned ReFS, and put all of the effort into btrfs instead.

            ReFS has fewer features and is less capable, but the GPL on btrfs would be a major stumbling block.

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: WinBtrFS

              zfs is even better than BtrFS.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            If you're referring to the various boot software, while I'd like Windows to support it nicely, I'd also like if Linuxes supported it nicely, or if I didn't have to deal with it so much. I've broken that by installing two different versions of Linux on the same disk. No Windows involved. I would prefer if it was easier to have lots of operating systems on one disk, and in my experience, you can eventually get somewhere satisfactory with any combination of operating systems, including Windows and Linux together, but first you're likely to deal with at least some broken things and some time manually changing bootloader settings. This is also why I tend to have different operating systems on different physical disks when the machine supports that and also why I have a machine that runs lots of VMs on one bare metal OS so I can easily test out a new one without rolling the dice again.

            1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

              [Author here]

              > I've broken that by installing two different versions of Linux on the same disk.

              Perfectly doable and I've done it repeatedly. One of my machines currently boots Win10, GhostBSD and about 6 different Linux distros. They all share the same `/home` and swap partitions, because there's less fun if you make it _too_ easy.

              It requires a little care but that's all.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                I did say that, you know. My point was that you can install any combination of operating systems, including Windows, and you can break something by installing a combination of OSes, not necessarily including Windows. Windows is not primarily to blame for the difficulty involved.

    2. R Soul Silver badge

      I'm sure the billions he got from M$ will make that easy. Assuming he notices once he's finished doing the monkey dance that made him such an insufferable prick.

  8. BenDwire Silver badge
    Linux

    Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

    Before I get deluged with down votes, hear me out: While I abandoned Windows years ago *because I can* I’ve never pushed Linux onto anyone unless they demonstrated a certain technical prowess.

    However, last week the 16 year old son of a friend managed to trash the hard disk in his computer, so I suggested that a cheap SSD would resurrect his machine. I then asked what programs he needed to run, and to my amazement it was simply Chrome. Youtube, Google Docs, Discord, Twitter and Spotify was the extensive list he gave me, and all ran in the browser quite happily.

    So, as an experiment, I put Linux Mint on said SSD, downloaded Chrome and that was that. Within 30 minutes all was working and he’s not moaned about anything. Everything just worked (Beer for the Minty devs) and he’s happy with the speed improvement gained from the SSD and lack of antivirus bloatware.

    Now, I remain as amazed as the next person, but to see him just get on with it as if nothing happened is quite astounding. He just treats is as an appliance, like his Nintendo Switch or Android phone, and it was no big deal as long as he had the browser he was used to. I was tempted to put ChromeOS on the machine, but TBH I couldn’t be arsed. Linux is easy enough IMO.

    Assuming he’s typical of many young adults in the education system, I do wonder if Micros~1 need to have a rethink.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      While I abandoned Windows years ago *because I can* I’ve never pushed Linux onto anyone unless they demonstrated a certain technical prowess.

      I've done it a couple of times. When someone said "why it doesn't look like windows?" I just said "It is a new one" and that was that.

      They don't play games or anything like that. Chrome was really enough in terms of apps.

      Two people even said that they thought Chrome is Windows (as in person stares at empty desktop and asks me "how do I open Windows"? I say "what do you mean?" and she says "You know the internet?")

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      Pretty much my experience as well.

      Yes, some folks need MS Office for exacting work-compatibility reasons, other need Photoshop or the odd special package, but for most folks they can work on a tablet or phone fine so really if they get a recognisable web browser they are sorted, maybe Libre Office as well. Just add uBlock Origin and they are amazed at how less crappy the experience is!

    3. Vincent van Gopher
      Linux

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      "While I abandoned Windows years ago *because I can* I’ve never pushed Linux onto anyone unless they demonstrated a certain technical prowess."

      I too abandoned Windows years ago but I have pushed people on to Linux - dozens of them. Just one has been a refusenik - I no longer service his system.

      Most of my converts are grannies and grandads with zero to no technical prowess - Mint just works. Two people do have very occasional printer problems. Some people call and worry why nothing has gone wrong with their laptop or PC and ask if I'll go round and give it a look over (yearly service?). All I'll usually do is clear out some old kernel files so it looks like I'm doing something :-)

    4. chasil

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      Many, many people have Android phones and tablets that completely suffice for app collections and computing needs.

      Many others have iPhones and iPads in the same situation.

      Microsoft has only one consumer environment - the desktop PC. An ocean has rolled both over and under that, which is why the old animosity is gone.

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      >” Assuming he’s typical of many young adults in the education system”

      So it’s running M365 and Teams okay?

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        Mint with Chromium? Yes.

        (MS Teams is a bit flaky sometimes, but that is the same for the ones who use Windows).

        1. dahle llama
          Linux

          Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

          Microsoft stopped supporting the full Linux client. Instead, install Microsoft Edge and use the Teams PWA (Progressive Web App).

          I use it for work and do not have any issues with it on my Linux Mint Install.

          Note: I tried using the PWA via Chrome and Firefox, but had some visual bugs.

          1. keithpeter Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

            Thanks will try that one. I have an old Thinkpad X220 I keep specifically for work with Zoom/Teams malarkey.

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        [Author here]

        > So it’s running M365 and Teams okay?

        I ran Teams on Linux in $JOB-1 and it was perfectly fine. Well, you know, as fine as Teams ever is, which is an extremely loose usage of "fine" but YKWIM.

        Now that there is Edge for Linux, I'd expect this to be easier still.

      3. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        Just been setting up Onedrive on Mint and it works pretty well tbh.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

          [Author here]

          > Just been setting up Onedrive on Mint and it works pretty well tbh.

          That's quite impressive.

          In $JOB-1 I did successfully get a FOSS client running and as all staff got 1TB of MS cloud storage, I was able to run a backup of many hundreds of gigs of local Linux filesystem to the MS cloud storage -- a feature MS definitely did not intend or plan.

          At this point you discover all sorts of limitations: no files over 200MB, lots of prohibited characters in filenames, no hard or soft links, no permissions, etc. And it's throttled and it's slow.

          OneDrive is Sharepoint pretending to be a cloud filesystem. It was meant to be a CMS. It has a lot of stuff it can't do.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

            I think (but I'd love to hear from someone who knows more) that it's only 'Onedrive for Business' that uses Sharepoint as it's backend. The 'personal' version of Onedrive uses something else.

            Now you've got me wondering which version basic M365 subscriptions include, I'm pretty sure it's the 'personal' version, but of course Microsoft don't make it easy to tell.

            Anyway, I've got the day off today and this is getting dangerously close to 'work' ;)

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      This why Chromebooks work so well.

      Or rather they used to but now seem a confusing mess of Google counterintuitive services.

      Shame a lot of maintream websites and banks do not officially support Chrome on Linux and often bits break for a while.

      Is Mint the best Linux for just the Chrome experience, or are there better even simpler alternatives? Definitely a market for this.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        [Author here]

        > Is Mint the best Linux for just the Chrome experience, or are there better even simpler alternatives?

        Well, Linux Lite bundles Chrome as standard, so I guess that's even easier.

        Offhand I don't know any other distro that does. In my own experience, Chromium works but has a significantly poorer user experience: Google seems to be intentionally crippling it.

    7. another alepot

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      I haven't used Windows for years, but having tried most other distros before they were truly ready for the desktop, and built some LFS systems, I finally went for various flavours of Ubuntu. I have a grandson that went for linux when he was about 12, with not much prior exposure to computers, so he had no bad habits, and also a close friend in France who gave up on Windows and disliked Apple's offerings, so happily runs various flavour of Ubuntu. I support her from my chair at home in Birmingham, although its hardly ever been necessary, as she has local people to help on the very rare occasions when it need something done that is not possible remotely. In summary, I doubt that you need to worry too much about technical ability, as long as you create a separate home partition so they don't lose everything when something fails and that they give you remote access to the system.

    8. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      "...but to see him just get on with it as if nothing happened is quite astounding"

      His laptop is an appliance that he uses to get stuff done. Sensible lad, will go far.

      Decades (like about 20 years) ago the local central reference library had PCs running a Sun based Linux of some kind (grey blue desktop) with star office and all.

      I asked the library assistant how it was going, and she said the younger users just worked it out. It was the older patrons of the library who found the slight change in UI distracting.

    9. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

      I guess he is too young to need something to prepare a CV to send out to employers?

      And recruiters insist on receiving it in word format. Presumably LibreOffice would work fine, but it does look very different to MS Word.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        A recruiter who insists on a CV in WORD format sounds like an excellent pre-filtering system for "I don't want to work there". Do they want to edit my CV? What's wrong with PDF?

        1. Neil Alexander

          Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

          Plenty of companies and agencies expect to receive CVs in Microsoft Word format, typically because they get fed into a candidate management system which parses the document and pulls out relevant information, keywords etc to make them searchable.

          You may be surprised at just how variable PDFs can be depending on the software that authored them or whether something like a “Print to PDF” tool was used. A “Print to PDF” file in particular will have likely lost the vast majority of its structural data on where lines, paragraphs or sections start or end, how tables are laid out and so on.

          Microsoft Word files, on the other hand, reliably retain their original editing structure and are much easier for computers to make sense of.

      2. dahle llama
        Boffin

        Re: Windows isn’t needed for all home use any more

        Highly reccomend Onlyoffice vs LibreOffice for Word documents. It has a much higher compatablity for Microsoft's formatting.

  9. phuzz Silver badge

    Some people will try and tell you that this is the portent of a change in direction at Microsoft.

    It's not though, this is just more evidence that Microsoft is so big, that whole departments therein have opposite priorities.

  10. paatisooth

    MS seems to have lost the plot in recent years. They have fantastic ideas which they share with great enthusiasm, and then end up scrapping or delivering an extremely crappified version of what they originally outlined. Sometimes they even release a version or two so that once they scrap the idea they allow us the bitterness of having had a brief chance to see something great.

    I'm sure it started out much earlier but the first example I can recall is Windows Home Server, which had a fantastic way of just chucking in a bunch of disks, regardless of size, and combining them into a single volume which included some level of redundancy as well. Then they released WHS2 which did away with the JBOD volume and enforced much stricter limits on the types of disks that could be included. I am still inconsolable about the loss of Windows Phone... the writing was on the wall when they abandoned the consistent square tile-based UX and started sticking circles everywhere because that's what Facebook and Apple were doing for profile pics. Astoria would have been magical, being able to run Windows, Linux and Android apps side by side. Now we get to incur the overhead of a VM, and WSA is inexplicably restricted to a handful of obscure regions (at least the Pope can run Android on his Windows machine in the Vatican City if he wants to) and a tiny number of large countries. MS is developing MAUI, a single-codebase cross-platform development framework based on their own .net technology, and yet they have rebuilt their flagship Outlook product from scratch as a trash web app wrapped in a bundled browser.

  11. Steve Channell
    Windows

    WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

    The one (and possibly only) reason to adopt Windows 11 is the Weyland graphics support through WSLg - this works because it is more3 like a Docker container than a full-fat VM.

    WSL2/g is the foundation for the Windows Subsystem for Android. that is still bubbling its way to release

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

      [Author here]

      > WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

      Try installing Xubuntu or Lubuntu or Ubuntu Cinnamon in VirtualBox, then installing the Guest Additions direct from Ubuntu's repos, and press Host+L for Seamless mode.

      Then you will see that yes, it's a VM *exactly* as WSL2 is a VM. :-)

      (P.S. I intentionally suggest some X11-based Windows-like desktops, as AFAIK seamless mode only works with X.org.)

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

        It's even more complex!

        Strictly speaking, on recent Windows 10/11 (or which ever version brought it in), every single process (including WSL 1 processes) are run inside a VM. This is why VMWare Workstation performance has taken a nose dive; it now has to use Hyper V instead of VMWare's own hypervisor, things are a lot slower and more difficult (especially 3D graphics acceleration), all because the VMWare hypervisor now cannot have direct access to virtualisation support provided by the CPU hardware (HyperV has already nabbed that).

        So, in a sense, there is not really that much difference between a process running in WSL 2, WSL 1, or a native Windows application; they all boil down to be hosted in HyperV one way or other. It's just that WSL 2 processes have an intervening layer called "the Linux Kernel" that is doing things like scheduling and interacting with HyperV on the application's behalf.

        On the assumption that the Linux kernel MS provide into WSL 2 has been well and truly gutted of everything it doesn't need (like, device drivers), really all it's doing it managing pools of memory scheduling stuff, and providing the network stack. I notice that if I run 2 WSL command lines, it's inside the same VM (ps -ef in one sees the processes started in the other).

        Getting back to WSL 1. Of course, Windows is not the first to attempt this; QNX (BB10), Solaris (and I think FreeBSD) have all had Linux kernel interfaces for hosting Linux binaries. QNX's one was pretty excellent; Android apps (those few not irrevocably bound to Google Play Services which BB10 couldn't have) ran pretty well. I never tried Solaris's spin of it, but it was supposed to be pretty good.

        I recall reading that in WSL 1 / Aurora MS were having difficulty in replicating every single facet of the Linux kernel interface (beyond fork), some obscurities related to hardware events I think. Getting everything right, even for a sys intf as famously stable as Linux's (and Linux has been good in this regard), must be very difficult. I can see why they would conclude that WSL 1 is too much like hard work, whereas neatly integrating a half-fat VM hosting a full Linux kernel is simpler and need be done just once.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

          [Author here]

          > QNX (BB10), Solaris (and I think FreeBSD) have all had Linux kernel interfaces for hosting Linux binaries.

          Good point.

          > QNX's one was pretty excellent; Android apps (those few not irrevocably bound to Google Play Services which BB10 couldn't have) ran pretty well.

          That is true. I had one BB 10 device, a Passport, and you're right, Android app support was excellent -- but really showed up the limitations of the sandbox. E.g. Android messaging apps ran well but couldn't communicate with the OS's built in universal inbox. So as vendors dropped their messaging apps for BB10, gradually its inbox stopped working.

          > I never tried Solaris's spin of it, but it was supposed to be pretty good.

          Nor have I, but SmartOS, a reboot of OpenSolaris by Joyent, extended and modernized the Linux runtime, making it 64-bit and compatible with a much more modern Linux kernel. The result boots off a USB key, can run Solaris binaries, Solaris containers, lots of full system VMs, and directly run Linux binaries and even entire Docker containers, natively, on the OpenSolaris kernel.

          The problem then becomes Linux techies who don't know how to drive any other Unix.

        2. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

          difficulty in replicating every single facet

          No doubt, but that wasn't the reason it was dropped. Running everything through the extra Windows system layer slowed everything down.

          WSL2 runs file and network operations faster, but at the expense of not having access to hardware through Windows. Support for USB and PCI was lost.

    2. Steve Channell

      Re: WSL2 is not a VM in the sense that VMWare is a VM

      At launch Windows NT had three sub-systems for {Windows Win32, OS/2, POSIX} that ran on the MS Executive and translated OS to native interfaces. The (useless) POSIX was replaced by Interix (renamed to Services for Unix), and set the pattern for "Windows Subsystem for Linux". Other than unsupported syscall interfaces (same problem experienced by MkLinux) WSL performance suffered with pipes because Windows Named Pipes are buffered network interface, while Linux natively links processes together.

      WSL2 is a cross between a subsystem and a VM, using Hyper-V for tricky syscall interfaces and a small Linux kernel: it does not have its own network stack or filesystem. It is not the same as a VM

  12. Dostoevsky

    > In other news, Hell freezes over and pigs fly...

    Classic, my friends. You have my deepest respect! I'm putting a copy of this article on my wall!

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > You have my deepest respect! I'm putting a copy of this article on my wall!

      *Big grin*

      Glad to be of service.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Liam, does that make you feel better about missing the LILO/Gummiboot pun I pointed out to you the other day?

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          > the LILO/Gummiboot pun I pointed out to you

          Little bit, yeah. ;-)

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Linux

    Conversion

    On the road to Damascus[Redmond]

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy

    1. Run setup.exe,

    2. click "Next",

    3. click "Finish" of "Finish" is not greyed out.

    4. goto 2,

  16. djnapkin

    So I tried their instructions. Quote "Available to those with a Windows machine, this is the most simple way to install Linux. Just run the Linux install command: wsl --install to install the Ubuntu distribution."

    According to that, wsl --install will do the job, in reality however, it just displays the help text and does nothing else.

    It's a shame they let go their documentation team.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      I tried wsl --install and it installed Ubuntu 22.04.2 LTS quite smoothly.

  17. Pete 2 Silver badge

    winux?

    > Microsoft has published guidance on how to download and install Linux.

    Embrace, extend, extinguish.

    Microsoft policy since the 1970s.

  18. packetguy

    El Fantasy

    Ah, still pushing the fantasy of One OS Must Do Everything? Unlike Limey Redcoats dressed in identical totalitarian colors, we rebel Yanks know how to choose the best tool for the job. LOL!

  19. billdehaan

    Tacit admission, or hardware reality?

    Could it be a tacit admission that you might need a free-of-charge OS for your PC?

    I recently discovered that Windows update was no longer working on my 2018 Zotac PC. Update blared the usual hysterical "YOUR PC IS UNPROTECTED AND AT RISK", because Windows security patches were missing. Of course, it ignored the fact that Malwarebytes and the like were running just fine, only the native Windows stuff was out of date, because Windows couldn't, or wouldn't download itself.

    After shrieking "update me! update me!", if started the download of the necessary components, and stalled at... 0%. A quick search showed this was a very common problem, with Microsoft's official solutions involving steps to clean out the SoftwareDistribution directories, running DISM and SCANF a lot, killing various tasks, disabling and reenabling core Windows services, messing with TrustedInstaller, and removing the WinSXS\Temp\InFlight directory.

    I'm a software dev myself, and my eyes glazed over at all the support voodoo the Microsoft was expecting end users to do in order to make the update process worked. Someone pointed me to a github update tool which, hilariously, could download the Windows updates from Microsoft's servers that Microsoft's own Windows Update could not. The mind boggles.

    One of the reasons is that updates have ballooned to ridiculous sizes. The PC in question has a 32GB SSD, and although the security updates were only a few megabytes, the Windows feature patches were over 100GB in size. Each. And so Windows Update refused to download anything.

    There are a lot of utility PCs like this, with small (32GB/64GB) SSDs that are fixed in the machine, and aren't going to be upgrade. Although I got the update going, as an aside, I tried a few Linux installs, which (unlike Windows) would cheerfully load off of the 1TB hard drive rather than the SSD. I installed Zorin OS, booted it, and configured it in less time than it had taken to run the Windows Updates.

    When Windows 10 hits end of life, am I going to spend money on a Windows 11 licence for those machines? Even assuming that they could run Windows 11 (which is unlikely), there are Linuxes out there (like Zorin Lite) that explicitly support legacy PCs that Windows doesn't, are currently maintained and secure, and are free to download. Even the professional editions which cost money still are half to a third the price of a retail Windows licence.

    So showing users how to install a Linux setup might be a way for Microsoft to relieve themselves of "problematic" end users that are not cost effective to support.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Tacit admission, or hardware reality?

      [Author here]

      > The PC in question has a 32GB SSD

      Oh my word. That's not much.

      Does it have or could you temporarily fit a 2nd drive? Even an SD card might do.

      Download the offline updated for Win10 22H2.

      Ruthlessly clean out everything. Run Disk Cleanup, tick everything, delete it, run it again, click "Clean Up System Files", tick everything, run it again, run "CHKDSK /F", reboot, delete all the temp folders' contents, disable virtual memory or move it to the other drive, disable hibernation, use Powershell to uninstall all the Modern apps for all users, etc. etc.

      Run the offline installer _from the new drive_.

      It'll take a day or so though.

      Might be better to back up everything, stick 22H2 on a Ventoy key, and format and reinstall. Ninite what you need back into place. It should pick up the key from the firmware. Probably faster!

  20. Michael Mounteney

    Even Microsoft has to face the truth

    On Azure, support for Windows-hosted PHP stopped at 7.4 so if you want to run PHP 8.x, you have to use a Linux app. instance. Behind the scenes it's just Docker, but it's layered over with the usual expected insane complexity. I'm gently steering our CTO towards self-hosting, and my job will become 100x easier when we can finally switch off the last Windows service.

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