back to article WLinux brings a custom Windows Subsystem for Linux experience to the Microsoft Store

The Windows Subsystem for Linux has begun to attract the attention of custom distributions with the arrival of Debian-based WLinux in the Microsoft Store. Put together by open-source startup Whitewater Foundry, the WSL-optimised distribution is aimed at developers and pro users with a bunch of popular development tools such as …

  1. ken jay

    what PAY!, never going to buy an OS ever.

    and no i didnt have to pay for my legal windows OS either

    well i lied, i did pay for slackware 3.1 a few hundred yrs ago

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So what?

  2. gv

    The Other Way Round

    Running Linux as the base OS and Windows in a VM is much better.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: The Other Way Round

      I think you are right, been running it like this for years. But experimentation is good.

      1. oiseau
        WTF?

        Re: The Other Way Round

        But experimentation is good.

        With MS stuff?

        Sure. :^ /

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: The Other Way Round

          Yes, experimentation with MS stuff is good, and I encourage all my competitors to try it,

          ( Coined by someone on NANOG years ago, not my line. Apologies/ acks to whoever.)

    2. BobChip
      Big Brother

      Re: The Other Way Round

      Quite so. I started using Linux seriously about six years ago, dual booting with Windows at first. I then found, after a couple of months, that I was preferentially booting into Linux almost all the time. I now run a Linux host with Win 7 in VirtualBox, which I sometimes use to open and convert old Corel Draw files.

      But run Linux under a Win host? What on earth for? "You cannot be serious!"

      Icon because Big Brother is NOT watching me.

      1. oiseau
        WTF?

        Re: The Other Way Round

        But run Linux under a Win host? What on earth for?

        Really cannot imagine what purpose this could serve ...

        "You cannot be serious!"

        Same thing I thought.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: The Other Way Round

          "But run Linux under a Win host? What on earth for?

          Really cannot imagine what purpose this could serve ..."

          I can't give exact specifics, as I am neither a linux expert nor a developer, but I just did a Win 10 1803 image creation project for a software development firm and they asked for WSL to be included as part of the build. I was told the developers wanted to be able to run bash scripts rather than having to figure out PowerShell, but as I said I don't know the specifics of what the scripts were for.

          I also know a few pen-testers who use WSL with Kali, although not all of the tools will run under WSL.

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: The Other Way Round

      Running Linux as the base OS and Windows in a VM is much better.

      I know, right? All this talk of running 'Linux atop of windows reminds me of the Cats (from Red Dwarf) idea about mermaids.

    4. yossarianuk

      Re: The Other Way Round

      Yes only Linux has KVM.

  3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    Indeed you are expected to pay

    ... which is controversial for any Linux distro. Luckily the price is small enough to put it under "support a developer with pizza and few beers" label, so no big deal. During installation you are expected to create a user with "sudo" rights. The installer will add WLinux icon to "Universal Applications", which is standard Windows console. You are automatically logged into the user you have created when you launch this console. I had some difficulty figuring out the selection of available packages until I checked the content of /etc/apt/sources.list - there is mostly Debian stable, with the addition of apt.patrickwu.ml . The fact that this domain is owned by "Mali Dili B.V. " with only a postbox in Netherlands, who apparently owns 227 more domains under .ml is potentially a security issue. Yet need to check this in GitHub WLinux wiki.

    As for X11, I tried sublime text 3 with vcxsrv and it "just worked" although I had to add "export DISPLAY=:5" to ~/.profile (my display is not the default :0).

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

      which is controversial for any Linux distro.

      Back before fast internet, it was common for distributions to sell distribution CD:s. Some distros (like Mandrake) even provided nice shrinkwrapped carton packages like other software vendors. I bought some CD sets like that, still have most of them, in the hope they become collectibles...

      1. William Towle
        Happy

        Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

        > it was common for distributions to sell distribution CD:s. Some distros (like Mandrake) even provided nice shrinkwrapped carton packages like other software vendors

        Aye, I won a SuSE linux box set from my local LUG. I'm not sure what happened to it though; "borrowed" probably.

        ...at my first job, having booted the CD on a Windows box in order to get access to whatever sensible command line tools the installer offered instead (we had other *nix machines locally, just not on personal desks so much), it informed me that only half the drive had been partitioned. So I let it install there. Fortunately my productivity rocketed; it might have been a different story otherwise...

        1. DrBed

          Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

          >> it was common for distributions to sell distribution CD:s. Some distros (like Mandrake) even provided nice shrinkwrapped carton packages like other software vendors

          > Aye, I won a SuSE linux box set from my local LUG. I'm not sure what happened to it though; "borrowed" probably.

          Hehehe, I bought both. SuSE came with big "Bible", all what you ever need (then) about installing Linux to your PC. YaST was great, but I liked Mandrake more.

          Actually, most of comments above are like I wrote it myself. Windows at VirtualBox, of course (and why the hell the opposite?); no dual-booting for decade. I didn't turned on my Win10 PC for almost a year. Now it scares me, with all those updates that waits to hug me...

          Personally, Mint rulez. Old good MATE. Respect to other flavors, of course.

      2. MrMerrymaker

        Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

        That reminds me of the paradoxical genius and stupidity of a young Mr Merrymaker buying a boxed copy of Red Hat Linux, from PC World...

      3. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

        [...] in the hope they become collectibles...

        My dear old thing -- if you're collecting them, then...

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Indeed you are expected to pay

      I tried sublime text 3 with vcxsrv and it "just worked" although I had to add "export DISPLAY=:5" to my ~/.profile

      Ahhh *nix, don't ever change XD

      (I speak via 4.15.0-34 )

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Why?

    Try as I might, I simply can't conceive of any circumstance when I would want to do this.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      You might not, but Microsoft are hoping people who might have experimented with Linux will do it this way, rather than setting up a dual boot system (which may result in Windows never being booted again!)

      And if the user gets it running well enough, why would you even consider installing a native Linux distro.

      Microsoft is Embracing Linux. The rest will follow!

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      @Will Godfrey

      Sure, you may be able to run a proper native Linux. But there are, allegedly, people so buried in shit by their corporate slavedrivers that they have to run windows at the bottom of the stack. It sucks, but there we are.

    3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Trollface

      I know why

      This is useful if you want to run Linux without "pretend Windows" (i.e. systemd), because you have the real thing instead.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: I know why

        This is useful if you want to run Linux without "pretend Windows" (i.e. systemd), because you have the real thing instead.

        WSL is impressive, and undoubtedly useful for some people but I struggle to see how you can call it 'the real thing' when it doesn't even use the Linux kernel.

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: I know why

          Oh I see you failed to get what the "real thing" is to be compared against. Of course I meant systemd (aka "pretend Windows").

    4. MonkeyControl

      Re: Why?

      I feel exactly the same way.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      Developing C++ with Visual Studio targeting Linux. Very slick experience. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    6. RegW

      Re: Why?

      Because obviously I want to use Linux for everything I do - but still need to have my movements tracked and recorded for in/security purposes.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Why?

        Rightr, because Linux web browsers don't support cookies. Or Javascript.

  5. wayne 8

    Cryptozoology

    Open source developer develops a hobbled Linux distro that runs only on Microsoft Windows.

    And expects to be rewarded for the effort.

    He should have pulled a Bill Gates and sold Microsoft a copy of Debian Linux. But then the OS dude's mother is not on the Board of Directors of Microsoft.

  6. wayne 8

    This is not the Linux on Desktop

    This is not the Linux on Desktop for which you are looking.

  7. Crazy Operations Guy

    The only use I can think of:

    The only use for this that I can think of would be to start tinkering around with Linux equivalents of Windows-only software until ether the code or the user are good enough to just use straight Linux (Or at least Linux + Wine).

    So really, pretty much a reverse Wine (LINE?). So pretty much use the subsystem as the first step to transition, then when more than 50% of time is spent with applications running under emulated Linux, then its time to go to a Linux base with Wine to run the remaining Windows-only crud, then slowly go to a pure Linux.

    1. blcollier

      Re: The only use I can think of:

      Wine is not an emulator - "Wine" is literally a backronym for "Wine is not an emulator". WSL is not an emulator either.

      Nit-picking perhaps, but this is the comments section so... when in Rome...

  8. katrinab Silver badge
    Facepalm

    “What it lacks in the file-sharing functionality of the Hyper-V Ubuntu approach it makes up for in seamless windowing”

    You do know you can point *nix programs at a Windows X Server from a Hyper-V machine, another machine on the same network, or indeed another machine in a different continent? It’s not a benefit of WSL.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      As for file sharing under WLinux (not sure if this is inherent to all WSL distributions), it is available in crude but effective form. All disks are mounted, for example:

      $ mount | grep /mnt/c

      C: on /mnt/c type drvfs (rw,noatime,uid=1000,gid=1000,umask=22,fmask=11,metadata,case=off)

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Ubuntu is the same.

        mount -t cifs doesn't work. You have to mount the samba share in windows, then mount -t drvs on the drive letter you allocate to it.

        Also, there is no (easy / supported) way to access for example /home/katrina from outside wsl

  9. disk iops

    Corp hands me a Windows laptop. Therefore I install Cygwin/X and Windows is just a window manager. WSL is useful when I want to test a real *nix instead of Cygwin's "almost". I don't know, it seemed to me X11 was downright trivial.

    'startx' (in Cygwin or other Windows Xserver) with '-listen tcp'

    From Windows or Cygwin, '<Xprogram> [--display ...]'

    For WSL to access the Xserver do either of:

    'xhost +localhost' in the context of the Xserver

    or

    inside WSL 'ln -s /mnt/c/Users/<username>/.Xauthority'

    Then you can inside WSL

    <Xprogram> --display localhost:#

    absolutely NOTHING special needed. I'm not opposed to someone wanting to get "paid" for putting in some effort but frankly this barely merits postcard-ware or has everyone really forgotten how to do *basic* X11 commands?

  10. guyr

    VirtualBox seamless mode

    VirtualBox has had seamless mode for years. In seamless mode, Linux app windows appear on the Windows desktop just like native Windows apps. No need to download anything from an app store, plus runs on any version of Windows, including Home and Windows 7. Of course, you can run any flavor of Linux (or BSD or ...). In short, I don't see the selling point of WSL. I guess if you have a version of Windows 10 that already has it, then why not. Other than that, meh...

  11. wallaby

    "Try as I might, I simply can't conceive of any circumstance when I would want to do this."

    Then why comment ?

    If something isn't for me I keep quiet - many out there will have a tinker with this, many wont.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If something isn't for me I keep quiet..."

      Your comment history suggests otherwise.

  12. onefang Silver badge

    "WSL-optimised distribution is aimed at developers and pro users with a bunch of popular development tools"

    "Of course, the source is available for free for those unafraid of build tools."

    So basically it's free for their entire planned user base. Though I guess they might make money from lazy developer types. Wait ... good business plan after all.

  13. Binraider666

    System Administrators ruled by Accountants

    The only appeal I can see to WSL for anyone, those users sat behind businesses with terribly unpermissive IT; to the point that they can't get a VM or a blank machine to install distro of choice. That feels like a pretty limited user base if you ask me.

    Having failed to destroy Linux on reputation, MS are now adopting their classic Embrace and Assimilate strategy. Anyone with the will and need to learn Linux will absolutely prefer the real thing. Why continue to support the monster when you don't have to?

    (I'll let you off if you still play games on Windows, that's all it's good for, and then, Win7 is still my preference!)

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    For a Beavered Brook and Air Vice Marshals Marshalling Everywhere

    "This is the Unix philosophy: Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface." - Douglas McIlroy, former head of Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center .... Awesome-UNIX Philosophy ......Immaculate Meme Tautology

    “A beginner who has just started” is a tautology. ..... and a Needful Noun to Supply with Raw Core Source for COSMIC Irradiation of Subject Matter .... Earthly Objects. :-)

    And a little something worthy of Pentagon JEDI Interests, methinks. .... JEDI Cloud RFP Solicitation Number: HQ003418R0077_JEDI_CLOUD_RFP

    And yes, that does highlight an Already NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive Program Proposing AI Union with Uncle Sams in Direction of Further Forward Future Travel with Virtual Space Realisations.

    And, .... Most Definitively Fox Murdoch Disney Territory ..... for Dambusting Gate Crashers .... RAF 617 Squadron Types AI Atypical and Surreally Unusual in Stealthy Modes of Engagement for Secure Core Source Enrichment.

    Per Ardua Ad Meta Astra. AI Bombes Away, Skipper.

  15. cdegroot

    It's a server, not a client...

    "Using X410 as a Windows X client" - nope, X410 is the (display) server.

    Anyways, I don't get the fuss either. I have been using the (paid version of the) Xming X11 server, on the Ubuntu WSL side it was just a matter of `export DISPLAY=localhost:0`. The only fiddling I remember was having to drop some preferred fonts (Source Code Pro) in the right spot.

    Still, the dealbreaker for me is disk speed. Compiling larger stuff is just not working - if they fix that, I'd seriously think about making Win10 my main OS given that Linux laptop support is still shaky at best.

  16. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Pint

    Popcorning pedantic Free / Open Source nerds

    Barnes expects users to pay for downloading his work from the Microsoft Store, which will prove controversial in the Linux world.

    Nothing wrong with that, as long as the source is there. Red Hat are doing OK with charging money.

    It's still Friday night, and what better excuse is there for a beer?

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