You won't have to be a tester to try Windows 10's new, built-in Linux kernel in the near future. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 will be widely available when Windows 10 version 2004 arrives. You'll have to install it manually for a "few months" until an update adds automatic installs and updates, but that's a small price to pay if you want Linux and Windows to coexist in peace and harmony. It'll be easier to set up, at least -- the kernel will now be delivered through Windows Update instead of forcing you to install an entire Windows image.
Embrace, Extend... Excite!
Has no one seen this yet? Don't cross the streams!
Earlier today, we wrote that Microsoft was going to add some big new features to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, including native support for Docker containers. It turns out that that ain't the half of it.
Not even half.
All is changing with Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Instead of emulating the Linux kernel APIs on the NT kernel, WSL 2 is going to run a full Linux kernel in a lightweight virtual machine. This kernel will be trimmed down and tailored to this particular use case, with stripped-down hardware support (since it will defer to the host Windows OS for that) and faster booting.
The Linux kernel is GPLed open source; the GPL license requires that any modifications made to the code must be published and made available under the GPL license. Microsoft will duly comply with this, publishing the patches and modifications it makes to the kernel. WSL 2 will also use a similar split as the current WSL does: the kernel component will be shipped with Windows while "personalities" as provided by the various Linux distributions can be installed from the Microsoft Store.
To quote Han Solo, "I've got a bad feeling about this."
Will Windows lose the last phase of the desktop wars to Linux? Noted open-source advocate Eric Raymond thinks so.
Celebrated open-source software advocate and author Eric Raymond, who's long argued Linux will rule the desktop, reckons it won't be long before Windows 10 becomes an emulation layer over a Linux kernel.
[...] Looking further into the future, Raymond sees Microsoft killing off Windows emulation altogether after it reaches the point where everything under the Windows user interface has already moved to Linux.
"Third-party software providers stop shipping Windows binaries in favor of ELF binaries with a pure Linux API... and Linux finally wins the desktop wars, not by displacing Windows but by co-opting it. Perhaps this is always how it had to be," Raymond projects.
Is It Time for Windows and Linux to Converge?
The two most intriguing developments in the recent evolution of the Microsoft Windows operating system are Windows System for Linux (WSL) and the porting of their Microsoft Edge browser to Ubuntu.
For those of you not keeping up, WSL allows unmodified Linux binaries to run under Windows 10. No emulation, no shim layer, they just load and go.
[...] Proton is the emulation layer that allows Windows games distributed on Steam to run over Linux. It's not perfect yet, but it's getting close. I myself use it to play World of Warships on the Great Beast.
The thing about games is that they are the most demanding possible stress test for a Windows emulation layer, much more so than business software. We may already be at the point where Proton-like technology is entirely good enough to run Windows business software over Linux. If not, we will be soon.
So, you're a Microsoft corporate strategist. What's the profit-maximizing path forward given all these factors?
It's this: Microsoft Windows becomes a Proton-like emulation layer over a Linux kernel, with the layer getting thinner over time as more of the support lands in the mainline kernel sources. The economic motive is that Microsoft sheds an ever-larger fraction of its development costs as less and less has to be done in-house.
If you think this is fantasy, think again. The best evidence that it's already the plan is that Microsoft has already ported Edge to run under Linux. There is only one way that makes any sense, and that is as a trial run for freeing the rest of the Windows utility suite from depending on any emulation layer.
So, the end state this all points at is: New Windows is mostly a Linux kernel, there's an old-Windows emulation over it, but Edge and the rest of the Windows user-land utilities don't use the emulation. The emulation layer is there for games and other legacy third-party software.
Also at The Register.
With an article that covers "From Cancer to Cloud" and beyond, Techrepublic asks: What is Microsoft Doing With Linux? Everything You Need to Know About its Plans for Open Source
'Microsoft and Linux' should be a phrase we're used to hearing by now. Microsoft is a member of not only the Linux Foundation but also the Linux kernel security mailing list... Microsoft is submitting patches to the Linux kernel... And when Microsoft wanted to add container support to Windows, it picked an open-source specification designed originally for [Linux].
Now Azure customers get the same hybrid benefits for Linux support contracts as they do for Windows Server licences; Windows runs Linux binaries; some key Microsoft applications are available on Linux; and new services might be built with Linux.
[...] At the recent Azure Open Day, Kubernetes co-founder and Microsoft corporate vice-president Brendan Burns talked about Microsoft having a deep understanding of Linux and contributing to existing open-source projects based on Linux as well as founding new ones like Dapr (Distributed Application Runtime).
[...] In short, Microsoft 'hearts' Linux.