2015 and 2016 might be remembered as the years when hell froze over repeatedly, in no small part thanks to Microsoft. The company whose CEO once described Linux as a cancer is seemingly now going through hoops to proclaim its love for the open source OS, and not without some amount of suspicion from the other side. Adding to its Visual Studio Code IDE for Linux and SQL Server for Linux, Microsoft might soon be revealing how it partnered with Canonical to let Ubuntu run on Windows 10 natively, without the use of a virtual machine.
There are still so many missing pieces and vague statements that its hard to make sense of this insider tip. There are, however, a few “facts” that seem to be coalescing around the topic. A talk scheduled for BUILD 2016 thWindows 10 might soon run Ubuntu, Linux utilities nativelyis week, which has been removed from the list, was entitled “Running BASH on Ubuntu on Windows 10”. BASH, or the Bourne Again Shell, is the most popular and most widely used command line shell on Linux. Now, running BASH alone on Windows has been possible for years now, thanks to projects like Cygwin and MSYS. The distinction, however, is the “on Ubuntu” part.
Again, it is possible to run a full-blown Ubuntu installation on top of Windows, but that would require the use of a resource-hogging virtual machine. According to sources, this Ubuntu instance will actually be running almsot as if it were a Windows 10 application, taking advantage of Linux subsystems that Microsoft has been sneaking into Windows 10 recently. Exact details of this implementation are still absent, so it will be interesting to hear about it. Presuming it’s true, of course.
Bottom line is that, while it might be truly Ubuntu, and therefore Linux, running natively, it might not be the same desktop experience Linux users are used to. The feature could very well just focus on BASH utilities and programs, like sed, awk, and friends, rather than full blown graphical desktops. That might also be possible, again depending on the specifics of the implementation, but the focus might lean more towards system administrators rather than end users.
Suffice it to say, even the possibility of such an integration has definitely piqued the curiosity of both Microsoft and Linux camps. Given years of animosity between the two, however, there will also be a good measure of skepticism on what Microsoft’s ulterior motive behind all these really is.