from the embrace dept.
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.
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."
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
With Microsoft embracing Linux ever more tightly, might it do the heretofore unthinkable and dump the NT kernel in favor of the Linux kernel? No, I’m not ready for the funny farm. As it prepares Windows 11, Microsoft has been laying the groundwork for such a radical release.
I’ve long toyed with the idea that Microsoft could release a desktop Linux. Now I’ve started taking that idea more seriously — with a twist. Microsoft could replace Windows’ innards, the NT kernel, with a Linux kernel.
It would still look like Windows. For most users, it would still work like Windows. But the engine running it all would be Linux.
Why would Microsoft do this? Well, have you been paying attention to Windows lately? It has been one foul-up after another. Just in the last few months there was the registry backup fail and numerous and regular machine-hobbling Windows updates. In fact, updates have grown so sloppy you have to seriously wonder whether it’s safer to stay open to attacks or “upgrade” your system with a dodgy patch.
Remember when letting your Windows system get automatic patches every month was nothing to worry about? I do. Good times.
Why is this happening? The root cause of all these problems is that, for Microsoft, Windows desktop software is now a back-burner product. It wants your company to move you to Windows Virtual Desktop and replace your existing PC-based software, like Office 2019, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs like Office 365. It’s obvious, right? Nobody in Redmond cares anymore, so quality assurance for Windows the desktop is being flushed down the toilet.
Many of the problems afflicting Windows do not reside in the operating system’s upper levels. Instead, their roots are deep down in the NT kernel. What, then, if we could replace that rotten kernel with a fresh, healthy kernel? Maybe one that is being kept up to date by a worldwide group of passionate developers. Yes, my bias is showing, but that’s Linux, and it’s a solution that makes a lot of sense.
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!
'Tis the season to be jolly, and many people around the world are getting those warm, fuzzy holiday feels. One of the things that makes us programmers feel warm and fuzzy is open source software. With open source, you can easily see the code and documentation, and better yet, you can use it too. A lot of companies support open source as well, providing funding, labor power, and code for free.
Why give something away for free? A lot of individuals contribute open source code out of a genuine sense of altruism. Yet when it comes to companies, it's often a strategic choice, and one they expect to benefit from.
[...] Why go through all the trouble? Let's take a look at the tangible benefits of supporting open source, especially from the perspective of tech giants like Google. Let's start by looking at how companies support open source.
The author goes on to list benefits for companies that support open source, citing Google, Microsoft, IBM and Adobe as examples. He also mentions how Red Hat benefited from its acquisition by IBM. He concludes:
So what's the take away for all of this? Open source is a great resource for the community, sure, but it's also a valuable resource for companies. Open source provides sales, influence, branding, retaining and training opportunities, among others, for companies. And for individual programmers, open source projects offer a way to build skills, increase knowledge, and make connections.
CentOS Linux 8 Will End in 2021
Open Source's Eric Raymond: Windows 10 Will Soon be Just an Emulation Layer on Linux Kernel
Microsoft Releases Open-Source Process Monitor for Linux
Google Takes Down Repositories that Circumvent its Widevine DRM
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.