Ubuntu environment on Windows means new options for developers

April 1, 2016 by Nancy Owano

Windows 10

Tech watchers' eyes and ears have been on the Microsoft Build 2016 developer conference in the U.S. and one of the news items of special interest is this: Microsoft is bringing the Bash shell to Windows 10. "The announcement received an uproarious applause from the crowd," wrote Chris Welch in The Verge.

Frederic Lardinois in TechCrunch: "Bash (Bourne Again SHell) has long been a standard on OS X and many Linux distribution systems, while the default terminal for developers on Windows is Microsoft's own PowerShell."

Specifically, techies are talking about the news on running Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. What is Bash? It is a Linux shell, the "Bourne-again shell," noted David Williams in iTWire on Wednesday.

Scott Hanselman a Portland, Oregon programmer who works for the web platform team at Microsoft, had the story about a keynote announcing you can now run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. "This is a new developer feature included in a Windows 10 'Anniversary' update (coming soon)," he said. "It lets you run native user-mode Linux shells and command-line tools unchanged, on Windows...This is a real native Bash Linux binary running on Windows itself. It's fast and lightweight and it's the real binaries."

'Real" is a key word in the buzz surrounding all this. News Channel Managing Editor Brandon Hill in Hot Hardware recognized a distinction about the announcement, saying "this isn't just Ubuntu running in a virtual machine. Instead, Ubuntu will be fully integrated into the Linux subsystems that course through Windows 10's veins."

Linux and Windows in the same neighborhood without virtualization? For developers, that means getting more breathing space in working with Bash, more options in helping to bring software to the widest possible audience.

Hanselman said, "This is a developer-focused release that removes a major barrier for developers who want or need to use Linux tools as part of their workflow."

A sense of new OS history being made was not lost on the news sites. Joel Hruska in ExtremeTech wrote, "For a company whose former CEO once famously declared that 'Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,' Microsoft's about-face on Linux has been nothing short of astonishing."

"The native availability of a full Ubuntu environment on Windows, without virtualization or emulation, is a milestone that defies convention and a gateway to fascinatingly unfamiliar territory," Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said in a statement, according to several news sites.

Shuttleworth also said, "we are delighted to stand behind Ubuntu for Windows, committed to addressing the needs of Windows developers exploring Linux in this amazing new way."

Bash will arrive as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer, said TechCrunch.

Explore further: Microsoft PowerShell team keen on added SSH support

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