4584 - The Glass Wall

I’m a developer and I do most of my development work under Unix/Linux. I have done so literally for decades (yeah, really 😃). I need Unix for my projects, I need it for small automation jobs, it’s the environment that I feel at home in.

MacOS is not Linux, but it is a variant of Unix. If you get something for Linux, chances are, that it is also available on the Mac. If not, you can just compile it from source yourself.

Windows always was different. Up to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft used to call Linux a cancer. They waged war against free and open source software. Not so any more. Their new CEO, Satya Nadella, apart from being a deeply charismatic person, is also a great strategist. He embraced Linux and Open Source, bought GitHub, the biggest repository of Open Source, and in general Microsoft today is one of the biggest contributors to Open Source, ranking with the likes of Google.

About a year ago they introduced WSL, the Windows Subsystem for Linux. It took some time to mature, but today it is ready for prime time.

WSL is basically a Linux running in Windows. You can even choose the distribution or install more than one. You don’t have a graphical user interface, but you do have the command line.

At first I didn’t understand how you should properly do real work with that thing. Use your Windows programs to work on the Linux files? Turns out you can’t. So I searched around and finally found the explanation: You don’t use Linux to create files under Linux. You use Linux to create and work with files of the Windows system around it.

You see, Windows programs can’t access Linux files, they don’t even see them, but the embedded Linux sees the Windows environment. You use Linux in Windows directories. There you can work with Windows files from both sides and even compile them to Linux programs.

It seems for programming purposes, even if you want to program under Linux and for Linux, Windows 10 has matured to be a fine environment and I think I can very well live with it.