Tag Archives: Windows

​Windows Subsystem for Linux graduates in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

More Windows 10

Interested in running Linux on Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), but nervous about it being both a beta and only available in Windows 10 developer mode? Your worries are over. In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (WinFCU) WSL has graduated to being a Windows 10 feature that can be run by any user.

Tested for over a year, WSL on WinFCU is bringing many new features to this combination of the Linux Bash shell and Windows.

Besides WSL no longer being a beta or requiring users to be in developer mode, the new features include:

  • Install Linux distros via the Windows Store
  • WSL now runs multiple Linux distros
  • WSL comes to Windows Server & Microsoft Azure VMs
  • WSL now supports USB/serial comms
  • Miscellaneous fixes and improvements

Besides Ubuntu, the new WSL-supported Linux distros are SUSE‘s community openSUSE and its corporate SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Fedora and other distros will arrive in the store shortly.

If you’ve previously installed WS, your existing “legacy” Ubuntu instance will continue to work, but it’s deprecated. To continue to receive support you should replace it with a new store-delivered instance. Without this, you won’t receive Canonical or Microsoft support.

To keep your old files, you should tar them and copy them to your Windows file system; for example: `/mnt/c/temp/backups` and then copy them back to your new instance.

In addition, instead of jumping through hoops to install Linux on Windows, you can install one or more — yes, you can have multiple distros on a single Windows 10 system — Linux distros from the Windows Store.

To do this, you must first enable the WSL feature in the “Turn Windows Features on or off” dialog and reboot. No, WSL is not active by default and yes, you must reboot.

After rebooting you simply search for “Linux” in the Windows Store, pick a version to install, hit install, and in a few minutes you’re good to go.

If you already have a Bash instance installed on WSL, you can start afresh with the lxrun /uninstall command. You run this command from the command prompt or PowerShell.

Besides being able to install multiple Linux distributions, you can simultaneously run one or more Linux distros. Each distro runs independently of one another. These are neither virtual machines (VMs) nor containers, and that means they need their usual system resources. I, for example, would only want them on systems with at least an additional 2GBs per instance of running WSL.

WSL itself requires only minimal system resources. Rich Turner, Microsoft’s senior program manager of WSL and Windows Console, wrote: “We don’t list [RAM requirements] because, frankly, we don’t have any of note! If you don’t install WSL, we add no RAM footprint. If you do enable WSL, there’s a tiny 850KB driver loaded briefly, and then it shuts down until you start a Linux instance. At that point, you load /init which launches /bin/bash. This causes the 850KB driver to load, and creates Pico Processes for init and bash. So, basically, WSL’s RAM requirements are pretty much whatever the RAM is that you need to run each Linux binary, plus around 1MB of working set in total.”

The Linux distros can also access Windows’ host filesystem, networking stack, etc. That means you should be cautious about changing files on the Windows filesystem.

windows-store-linux-distros.png

You can now install Linux distros right from the Windows Store.

Why would you run multiple distros at once? Microsoft points out:

“This ability to run different Linux distros allows you to use the same tools, package manager/ecosystem, and environment that your production code will be running in. This results in less time wasted tracking down hard-to-find errors when it comes time to deploy your code. This allows you to, for example, use Edge/Chrome/Firefox on Windows, to view a website hosted on Apache on Ubuntu, that talks to a REST service running on openSUSE … without having to punch holes through the firewall when testing locally, because all these processes run above the firewall, alongside one another!”

Linux developers will be pleased to find that USB serial comms are now supported. This enables your shell scripts and apps to talk to serial ports.

WSL also now supports mounting of USB-attached storage devices and network shares. That’s the good news, The bad news is it only supports the NT filesystem IO infrastructure. In other words it only supports FAT/FAT32/NTFS formatted storage devices. Want *nix file systems? Microsoft encourages you to upvote and/or comment on the associated UserVoice ask.

Digging deeper into the new improvements, under the hood WSL on WinFCU now includes:

  • Improved TCP socket options inc. IP_OPTIONS, IP_ADD_MEMBERSHIP, IP_MULTICAST, etc
  • /etc/hosts will now inherit entries from the Windows hosts file
  • xattr related syscalls support
  • Fixed several filesystem features and capabilities
  • Improved PTRACE support
  • Improved FUTEX support
  • chsh, which enables you to change shells, now works. This enables you to use your favorite shell directly. Shell startup file other than “.bashrc” will now execute.

The following syscalls were added for the first time during the FCU cycle:

  • Prlimit64
  • getxattr, setxattr, listxattr, removexattr

As expected, WSL is also on its way to Windows Server and to Microsoft Azure Windows VM instances. This will make WSL even more useful for sysadmins.

All these improvements have made it even easier for developers and system administrators to run Linux shell commands on Windows. While this isn’t very useful for ordinary desktop users, for serious IT staff it’s a real step forward, making Windows more useful in a server and cloud world that’s increasingly dominated by Linux. Even on Azure, over a third of VMs are Linux.

With WSL, most Linux shell tools are at your command. These include: apt, ssh, find, grep, awk, sed, gpg, wget, tar, vim, emacs, diff, and patch. You can also run popular open-source programming languages such as python, perl, ruby, php, and gcc. In addition, WSL and Bash supports server programs such as the Apache web-server and Oracle’s MySQL database management system. In other words, you get a capable Linux development environment running on Windows.

While you can run Linux graphical interfaces and programs on WSL, it’s more of a stunt than a practical approach at this time. Of course, with a little work…

How does WSL work? Dustin Kirkland, a member of Canonical’s Ubuntu Product and Strategy executive team, explained: “We’re talking about bit-for-bit, checksum-for-checksum Ubuntu ELF binaries running directly in Windows. [WSL] basically perform real-time translation of Linux syscalls into Windows OS syscalls. Linux geeks can think of it sort of the inverse of ‘WINE‘ — Ubuntu binaries running natively in Windows.”

What matters now is that WSL works very, very well. If you want.

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Windows 95 is something of a cultural phenomenon. You can run it in your browser, endlessly stare at its screensavers or even check out its weird, arty cousin. Thanks to Russian graphic designer Misha Petrick we can now even run Instagram on it — kind of. Instagram for Win95 is a small art project that showcases what the popular app would look like with those mid-90s aesthetics. It’s remarkably well done, and shows different parts of the interface. Everything, including the filters, are very low-tech and breathe the spirit of the long lost operating system. Just don’t be surprised if you hear a familiar…

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Microsoft launches meeting app Invite for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone

One of the meeting rooms at Communitech, a startup mecca in Waterloo, Ontario. Google also has 200 employees here.

Microsoft today launched a new standalone app for scheduling meetings called Invite. Available only for iPhone users in the U.S. and Canada for now, you can download Invite now directly from Apple’s App Store.

Here is how it works. First you suggest times that work for you, and then invite attendees to vote. You can send invites to anyone with an email address — even if they are outside your organization. The recipients select all the times they can attend from the app itself or from a browser, once votes are in, you pick the time that works best.

microsoft_invite

The best part is that anyone invited can see what options work best for other attendees, and suggest their own times as well. The sender chooses a final date and time whenever they’re ready, hitting Send Calendar Invites to get it on everyone’s calendars.

Here is how Microsoft explains its thinking behind the app:

Invite is designed to overcome the biggest obstacle when scheduling meetings — not being able to see the calendars of attendees outside your organization. As a result, your proposed meeting can be repeatedly declined until you find a time that works.

From VentureBeat

Location, location, location — Not using geolocation to reach your mobile customers? Your competitors are. Find out what you’re missing.

Certain events and meetings can be moved if something more important comes up, but only each person knows best where they are flexible. By letting attendees pick times that work for them, even when it means moving one of their own meetings, can stop that meeting from being scheduled on a Friday evening.

Invite is mainly designed for users with Office 365 business and school accounts. That said, the app also works with any email account, including Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.

The app’s launch and limitations are very similar to Microsoft’s Send, a lightweight email app that debuted in July. Like Send, Invite is starting out as iPhone-only, available only in two countries, and with the promise of “coming soon” to Android and Windows Phone.

Invite is the latest in a long line of apps to emerge from Microsoft Garage, the software giant’s lab for experimental tinkering. At this rate, Microsoft will soon have more experimental apps than “final” apps.

And that’s okay, as long as some of them are eventually released or integrated into existing products.

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Microsoft will bring BitLocker and Secure Boot to Windows 10 IoT Core

Raspberry Pi

Microsoft is beefing up the security capability of Windows 10 IoT Core, the compact version of Windows intended for Internet-connected devices. Microsoft’s BitLocker data encryption technology and its Secure Boot system for only supporting trusted software will both appear in in an upcoming release of the operating system, Microsoft announced today.

“By building this into IoT Core you can get these highly valuable security features without needing to build your own implementations meaning you can get your project done faster and still be more secure,” Steve Teixeira, director of program Management for the Internet of Things team in Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, wrote in a blog post.

The build packing BitLocker and Secure Boot will be available to people participating in the Windows Insider Program, Teixeira wrote.

The OS became publicly available last month following a preview that came out in April, days after the formal release of Windows 10 proper.

For those who want to try it out, a new Windows IoT Core Starter Kit might be just the thing. It costs $ 114.95 with a Raspberry Pi 2 and $ 75 without the Pi. An SD card in the kit comes with the OS installed.


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