Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

... is quite possibly the worst name they could have come up with for what is the most useful thing to be added to Windows in years.

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows seems to be the marketing name for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL): an honest-to-goodness compatibility layer to run Linux binaries natively on Windows.

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? -Wayne Campell

The only thing I remember over-hearing about the Anniversary Update was that they made it so you couldn't disable Cortana without poking about the registry. I headed over to the official Windows 10 Anniversary Update Features to see just what all they jam-packed into this release.

What's up, buttercup?

Let's see what we've got here:

  • Sticky Notes
  • One place for taking action
  • Use your laptop like a tablet
  • New emoji keyboard
  • Dark mode themed apps
  • Music controls in lock screen

Huh.

Windows 10 has some new features and surprises*

Apparently, leveraging the power of a battle-tested set of core developer tools that have been around for decades falls closer to "surprises*" than "features" like emoji keybords. It is admittedly a Beta feature, but come on, Microsoft; this should have been heralded with trumpets.

Lackluster announcements aside, WSL is surprisingly good. If you're on the Windows Insider program, and getting the bleeding edge development preview releases, then you get some solid updates that they're actively working on: github. Right now, on the Insider track you can get the version based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (vs the 14.04 on the main release of Windows). Definitely worth it, as there are some useful things that haven't been back-ported (cough cough Java 8). I can now awk, grep, and sed my way through my. I can ssh into all the servers needed for work, and personal projects.

As my main OS, I've used OSX for the past 4 years for work, and Linux for the 5 years before that in graduate school. Not being able to open a terminal and ssh into a server on a clean install is a non-starter. Having to kludge together Cygwin, Gnu On Windows, and Git for Windows to mangle together some semblance of the core tools that are just there on any other modern operating system is a beyond a chore.

I'm typing this on my first daily-driver in 4 years that isn't a MacBook Pro, and I had every intention of wiping Windows completely off and installing Arch Linux. Then I happened across Bash on Ubuntu on Windows, and I think it's compelling enough to try.

I'm going to try and stick it out, despite having to prepend every web search with "bash on ubuntu on windows [my issue]". WSL : Give Windows 10 a chance.