Linux and Windows – Best friends forever?

Ed Bott, a globally known tech writer and author, described last week on ZDNet how Microsoft helped him to install Ubuntu Linux. Quoting Mr. Bott:

Anyone who aspires to understand the modern computing landscape should have some experience with platforms other than the one they use regularly because a lot of what you see in Windows, MacOS, and Linux today comes from the same DNA.

In the interest of keeping up with what’s new in Linux, I go through this exercise myself every year or two. So, imagine my surprise when this year I was able to build a functional Ubuntu Linux machine in minutes, without disturbing my current Windows 10 setup. Even more surprising: Microsoft did most of the work.

Indeed, Microsoft has made it easy to remain in Windows, using various Linux distros virtually, with no need to install them on physical hardware. Today, Linux is getting more and more integrated with Windows, becoming an integral part of it, as I wrote last October: Microsoft: Linux – from cancer to revenue source 

This is of course completely understandable. By releasing their patents, cooperating with the Open Source community, and making Linux available on the Windows desktop, it will be possible to get Linux users to switch from physical Linux installations to Windows with Linux running in containers or virtual machines.

At the moment, WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) allows users to run various Linux consoles directly on the Windows desktop. You can even get the full desktop experience from WSL Ubuntu:

Click to open screenshots enlarged in a new tab.

The preceding screenshot showing WSL Ubuntu desktop on the Windows desktop is from my story Windows Subsystem for Linux – Desktop Experience and Sandbox. Full instructions to make this for yourself appear in my Ten Forums tutorial Windows Subsystem for Linux – Add desktop experience to Ubuntu

Another option is to install Linux on a virtual machine. You can install any Linux distro on a VM, regardless of  whether you’re using Hyper-V, VirtualBox or VMWare . I prefer Hyper-V, which since September 2018 has had Ubuntu images available in its Hyper-V Quick Create gallery as we explained here in Ubuntu 18.04.1 now in Hyper-V Quick Create Gallery. It makes creating a Ubuntu VM fast and easy, and it’s fully compatible with Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode.

I have written a tutorial on Ten Forums for those interested in testing Quick Create: Hyper-V Quick Create – Setup Ubuntu Linux virtual machine

I must admit that I like Microsoft opening the gates and approaching the Open Source community, it is a very positive move. It makes it easier for beginners to test and learn Linux, it makes it possible for enthusiasts to run Windows and Linux in parallel, not separately.

Starting from Windows 10 version 20H1 (2004), you can even access files on your WSL Linux distros directly from File Explorer:

Well done, Microsoft!



Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site