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 Post subject: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:36 am 
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Anyone tried it out yet?

I'm between a rock and a hard place because my one Windows 10 machine is my roommate's box that we use as an HTPC, so I can't be switching that to use even more unstable builds. I have a thinkpad that I use for dev stuff, and that's still running Win7 with a headless ubuntu VM that I ssh into.

Feels like WSL could be the perfect replacement for that dev VM setup, but I'd like to hear from the horse's mouth before going to the trouble of wiping, reinstalling and upgrading to an unstable insider build.

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:47 am 
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Haven't tried it out yet, but its architecture looks interesting OSDev-wise- they reused their "picoprocess" thing from their "Drawbridge" container/sandbox project, making the Linux subsystem look something like an exokernel.

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:03 am 
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Yes. It seems to be very good; I managed to install gcc, and various other programs, and it worked just fine.

The only drawback, from an OS point of view, is that I haven't found a way to mount a disk image. And, of course, it doesn't run X Windows. But , otherwise, it is pretty much a standard Ubuntu setup to which you can install pretty much anything that you want.

I think that Microsoft are being very modest in describing it as Bash for Windows.


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:51 am 
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On a personal level, I'm not particularly keen on that system as I'm sure Microsoft have a hidden agenda here - probably something to do with trying to claim back part of the market share from Linux, or encouraging Linux-only developers to develop for Windows, or something else along those lines. By using it myself I would only be helping them in their plan - and I've got no need for it anyway.

Depending on how much you use Windows in parallel with Linux (and how much of that work can't be done under Linux) why don't you just install Linux on the laptop?

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:58 am 
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I'm not into that sort of politics. I appreciate the technical achievement. And I welcome the fact that Microsoft is now embracing Linux the way that IBM did.

Life is too short for conspiracy theories.


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:11 am 
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iansjack wrote:
I appreciate the technical achievement.
Technical achievement??? Linux kernels have been running in userspace for years, Windows has been running UNIX environments for years, so it was only a matter of time before someone brought all of these concepts and technologies together to run Linux binaries (or a whole Linux distro - I read somewhere that this subsystem is based on Ubuntu) on Windows. The only reason why people think this is such a big thing is because a) Microsoft are behind it, and b) Microsoft have made it sound like a big thing.

In terms of consequential developments in the industry, this is going to go one of two ways:
  1. this subsystem is never going to become more than a novelty, as real Linux users are still going to use real Linux and most Windows users aren't even going to know that it's there, and Linux users who want to run Linux software on Windows are going to continue using open-source solutions such as cygwin
  2. this subsystem is going to gain a significant market share previously dominated by real Linux systems, with many would-be casual Linux users adopting an "oh just use the Linux that's included with Windows" attitude and not realising the true benefits of Linux (open source, stability, security, etc. which are not going to be present when using a Linux subsystem inside Windows)
I'd hope that it's the former, but Microsoft have a way of making things take the latter path even in the face of better alternatives (think Internet Explorer vs Netscape and later Firefox).

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When you start writing an OS you do the minimum possible to get the x86 processor in a usable state, then you try to get as far away from it as possible.

Syntax checkup:
Wrong: OS's, IRQ's, zero'ing
Right: OSes, IRQs, zeroing


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:31 am 
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This is a good, stable platform. I seriously think there's no non-ideological reason to not use Windows with the advent of WSL, since you can run all the same things on WSL that you can on Linux (X programs are just an X server away, of which there are a few -- Xming 6 is free) and you can run all the things that you can run on Windows but can't on Linux.

You lose nothing, and you gain productivity. NT has always been a secure, stable kernel with an equally worthy userspace on top of it. Discounting it entirely as an evil scheme from a company that produces crap code because of Windows 95 and 98 is unfounded.

I personally hope Linux users realize this and decide to unlock the full capability of their computers.


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:42 am 
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I did think of trying to use X with a Windows X server, but haven't tried that yet. I'm not sure if the Linux and Windows subsystems can integrate that closely. It's certainly something to investigate. But I'm not convinced that there is a real need.

As for criticism from those who haven't tried it - well, I prefer comments based on real-world experience rather than idealogical prejudice. I'm all for cross-platform solutions.


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:47 am 
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Quote:
why don't you just install Linux on the laptop?


That laptop actually dual boots OpenBSD and Win7, but since I set up the VM I can't remember the last time I booted BSD. The UI in Windows is, whether you're a fan of it or not, infinitely more polished and stable than just about any X environment so it's just a lot nicer to use when I'm not in the command line. For me at least. And yet I have XMing on there as well so if I'm dying to develop or run an X app there's nothing stopping me.

To me, it's the same reason all of these hip kids are using Mac Books. And the only reason I don't have one (though I do have a decade old Mac Pro for music stuff) is because I'm thrifty. And my hardware isn't super well supported as a hackintosh or I would've done that. Since I have a Win7 license, this is works pretty well for me.

So I'll probably pull the trigger, I'm sure that the reduced overhead vs the VM will be nice (if I even notice). But I have heard mixed reports on this iansjack, can you confirm that you can't connect WSL X apps to an X client like XMing over a socket on localhost? That seems weird.

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:51 am 
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iansjack wrote:
I did think of trying to use X with a Windows X server, but haven't tried that yet. I'm not sure if the Linux and Windows subsystems can integrate that closely.
To confirm, you can use an X server like XMing. I'm not sure how much overhead it has since Windows X servers are probably more designed for networked X11, but it does work.

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:57 am 
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If it wasn't clear, I meant the reduced overhead of not having the system actively emulating a disk drive &c. I'm sure any difference is X performance in negligible, XMing has always worked pretty smoothly for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:07 pm 
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Kazinsal wrote:
I seriously think there's no non-ideological reason to not use Windows with the advent of WSL, since you can run all the same things on WSL that you can on Linux (X programs are just an X server away, of which there are a few -- Xming 6 is free) and you can run all the things that you can run on Windows but can't on Linux.
And this is exactly the reason why WSL shouldn't exist.
Kazinsal wrote:
You lose nothing
You lose:
  • The security that comes with an open-source base system
  • The flexibility customisation that comes with a modular base system
  • The freedom that comes with an open (not the same as open-source, but rather meaning that it is open for modification and experimentation rather than containing undocumented proprietary components right down to the bootloader) base system
Maybe those aren't things that matter to you, but they're also things that you don't necessarily appreciate until you've used Linux.
Kazinsal wrote:
NT has always been a secure, stable kernel with an equally worthy userspace on top of it. Discounting it entirely as an evil scheme from a company that produces crap code because of Windows 95 and 98 is unfounded.
Windows 9x has nothing to do with this; NT has plenty of problems of its own, and to cite one example I'm going to mention that every Windows system that I have that's older than about 6 months has svchost.exe using up an entire CPU core (and they're different Windows versions from different vendors running different applications), and when they're not doing that I'm fighting with the inflexible interface and restrictive filesystem (seriously, no quote marks in a file name???).
Kazinsal wrote:
I personally hope Linux users realize this and decide to unlock the full capability of their computers.
I personally hope that Linux users don't fall into this trap and give away the freedom and control over their computers (and the capability that this brings with them - I still remember how much faster my floppy drive used to work under Linux simply because the floppy disk driver bothered to calibrate the head step rate properly) that they have gained through using Linux.

_________________
When you start writing an OS you do the minimum possible to get the x86 processor in a usable state, then you try to get as far away from it as possible.

Syntax checkup:
Wrong: OS's, IRQ's, zero'ing
Right: OSes, IRQs, zeroing


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:09 pm 
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jojo wrote:
The UI in Windows is, whether you're a fan of it or not, infinitely more polished and stable than just about any X environment so it's just a lot nicer to use when I'm not in the command line.
Maybe you should boot that UNIX system more often ;-) . Linux desktop environments have come a long way even in the last five years, and if you choose carefully you'll have an environment that's not only polished but also completely customisable, so you can make it work just like the Windows interface until you realise that there's a lot more potential in a GUI. And it doesn't revert to the classic theme every time the web browser hangs.

_________________
When you start writing an OS you do the minimum possible to get the x86 processor in a usable state, then you try to get as far away from it as possible.

Syntax checkup:
Wrong: OS's, IRQ's, zero'ing
Right: OSes, IRQs, zeroing


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:14 pm 
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iansjack wrote:
I'm all for cross-platform solutions.
Then go work on implementing the necessary API calls to get your favourite Windows application working under wine. They're seriously short of developers and could do with someone with a knowledge of how operating systems work at those levels.

(Sorry, the hypocrisy of that comment was getting to me: "I'm all for cross-platform solutions, but instead of working on developing a cross-platform solution to help other Linux users I'm just going to accept an inferior commercial product from Microsoft.")

_________________
When you start writing an OS you do the minimum possible to get the x86 processor in a usable state, then you try to get as far away from it as possible.

Syntax checkup:
Wrong: OS's, IRQ's, zero'ing
Right: OSes, IRQs, zeroing


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 Post subject: Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:16 pm 
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onlyonemac wrote:
And this is exactly the reason why WSL shouldn't exist.

WSL shouldn't exist because it runs everything Linux can and more?

oneonlymac wrote:
You lose:
  • The security that comes with an open-source base system
  • The flexibility customisation that comes with a modular base system
  • The freedom that comes with an open (not the same as open-source, but rather meaning that it is open for modification and experimentation rather than containing undocumented proprietary components right down to the bootloader) base system
Maybe those aren't things that matter to you, but they're also things that you don't necessarily appreciate until you've used Linux.

Open source isn't inherently secure (unless you've personally vetted every single line of code in every single module of every single program your system runs). Windows is plenty customizable (there's a greater variety of PC hardware with working drivers, there are utilities for reskinning your window manager, and there is an incredible amount of software available). And the so-called "freedom" granted to you by being able to see the source code does... what for you exactly that Windows' proprietary kernel can't? The Windows driver development kit and references are free, the compiler and toolkit are free, and even the operating system is free now.

The "freedom" of the operating system means nothing to me because I expect it to just work and let me do what I want, which Windows did 99% of the time and now 100% of the time since I no longer have to run gcc in a virtual machine. The difference is gratis versus libre. And even then, Microsoft has been open-sourcing quite a few pieces of their software.

oneonlymac wrote:
Windows 9x has nothing to do with this; NT has plenty of problems of its own, and to cite one example I'm going to mention that every Windows system that I have that's older than about 6 months has svchost.exe using up an entire CPU core (and they're different Windows versions from different vendors running different applications), and when they're not doing that I'm fighting with the inflexible interface and restrictive filesystem (seriously, no quote marks in a file name???).

This is not a Windows problem. svchost is a host process that hosts services (which are not wholly standalone programs but rather modules that run under the generic sandboxing host process). Third-party drivers and software can include services that are run by the generic host process, and if we're going to be blaming services for making an entire OS crap, then Linux is worthless because the touchpad user-space daemon likes to busy hang on my single-core laptop when I put resume it from sleep in a virtual terminal and it makes the entire computer unusable.

I don't know what you're getting your information from, but NTFS supports every Unicode character in filenames except NUL and forward-slash. Win32 has a few other restricted characters because the API handles globbing and argument sets for all Win32 programs to give a consistent interface across the system.

oneonlymac wrote:
I personally hope that Linux users don't fall into this trap and give away the freedom and control over their computers (and the capability that this brings with them - I still remember how much faster my floppy drive used to work under Linux simply because the floppy disk driver bothered to calibrate the head step rate properly) that they have gained through using Linux.

I hope you and other people learn to enjoy an operating system that just works, and doesn't completely break on relatively common hardware setups like multi-GPU desktops even with manufacturer-created open source drivers that are supposed to be compatible with the hardware inside the "free" ecosystem, a system I have that has eight Marvell Fast Ethernet NICs in it, my netbook's LTE modem, and every surround sound system I've ever encountered.


NT is much more elegant than you think. And the operating system it's built on just works. There's no lack of working drivers due to the project lead telling manufacturers to f*ck off. There's no "give me freedom or give me death" ideology in the developer and user communities. There's no spontaneous system collapses because you decided to recompile the kernel to support ZFS boot images. The API isn't an attempt to half-arse a modern design and shove it into a design from the 1970s. And it certainly doesn't do only a quarter of what the average person needs it to out of the box and still pretend to be a desktop operating system.

There's a reason Windows ships on everything that's not targeting Linux and Free Software hackers, and it's not Darth Ballmer and the Microsoft Illuminati Cabal.


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