Windows Sub System for Linux


A few years back, it was impossible to run Linux packages/command in Windows. The technology has evolved over time and now Ubuntu-on-Windows is possible, without using virtual box VMware…

The anniversary edition of Windows 10 comes with additional features for Windows developers, which include a complete Ubuntu based Bash shell that can run Linux packages / commands / software directly on Windows systems. The feature is available using the ‘Linux subsystem for windows’ in Windows 14316 Insider Preview of Windows 10. As part of the Windows insider program, Microsoft introduced the Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta) [WSL], which is provided via Windows Insider account. Here the user can enable WSL feature in Windows developer mode and it is not like VM, a container, or like cygwin (Linux software compiled for Windows). Instead, Windows 10 gain a Linux Subsystem for Windows, which is based on Microsoft’s project Astoria, which works for running android apps on Windows.

The more familiar Wine in Linux runs Windows application directly in Linux. The WSL does the opposite of Wine for running Linux application in the Windows. Microsoft joined with canonical for developing WSL, but the core Linux kernel is not integrated here, instead this allows us to run the exact same binaries and the Bash shell you normally run on Ubuntu Linux. Also WSL cannot run Ubuntu directly on Windows 10 developer mode version, as this is basically Ubuntu user-space packages running naively on Windows. The Company is coming up with the real time translation of Linux system that calls into Windows system calls. This Ubuntu user space provide support for tools including ssh, apt, rsync, find, grep, php, vim,awk, gpg, curl,apache, wget, mysql, python, sed, sort, xargs, md5sum, perl, ruby, emacs and more using the Bash shell.

Coming to the server end, currently we are using tools like putty, cygwin, etc, but by using the WSL feature of Windows we can simply ssh to the server via terminal in the Bash shell and that makes it a truly natural experience that went well. Also we can execute the Linux command after ssh to the server. Other new features in Build 14316 include improvements to the new Skype Universal Windows Platform app, new toggle that lets you switch between light and dark mode themes for Windows Settings, Microsoft Edge Browser, Clock, Calculator, and Other Apps.

To activate WSL, enable ‘Developer Mode’ in ‘Update and Settings’ under ‘Settings’. Then open ‘programs’ and head to ‘ program and features’ and then click on ‘Turn windows features on or off’. From the obtained list enable ‘windows subsytem for linux (Beta)’ and click ‘ok’. Now a Bash option is created in Windows.

The installation of software/applications in the Bash shell is restricted to the Bash shell itself. It can’t be accessed from the Command prompt, Powershell, or elsewhere in the Windows machine. Likewise, software/applications in the Bash shell cannot interact directly with the Windows programs, although both the platforms can access the files in the Bash and the Windows. The research in this is still going on…we can expect more interesting innovations in the future.

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