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Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment can run in Windows (wordpress.com) 170

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "This is one of the coolest tickets I've seen on GitHub," writes Ubuntu developer Adolfo Jayme Barrientos, adding "this kind of surreal compatibility between platforms is now enabled...the fact that you can execute and use Linux window managers there, without virtual machines, is simply mind-blowing."

"The Windows 10 Anniversary Update coming in August includes an unusual feature aimed at developers: an Ubuntu sub-system that lets you run Linux software using a command-line interface," explains Liliputing.com "Preview versions have been available since April, and while Microsoft and Canonical worked together to bring support for the Bash terminal to Windows 10, it didn't take long for some users to figure out that they could get some desktop Linux apps to run in Windows. Now it looks like you can even load Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment, making windows 10 look like Ubuntu.

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Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment can run in Windows

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hm? ANSWER ME!

  • No Thank you.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @09:46AM (#52482721)

    I used/supported Windows for close to 20 years before I retired in 2010. At that time I decided I was done with using MS products, and moved all of my home machines over to single-boot Ubuntu. After seeing what a "turd_in_the_punchbowl" Windows 10 is, privacy-wise, I couldn't be happier with my decision.. I suppose for those who are *forced* to use Windows, either by their job or perhaps they just *think* they *have* to use Windows, this might be useful, but not for those of us who don't care to be MS's "product" and use Linux natively...

    • Completely agree. I keep a virtual machine of each Windows OS just in case someone asks "how do you do this". Much easier to just load it up to see. Mind you, after 7 I loaded them up far less because they became less easier to navigate and seem to be forcing people in using a crappy product. 8 with its look that was great for a tablet, terrible for a laptop (until they brought back the start menu). 10 and this non sense of "get the app" can burn in hell. Long live Debian on all my systems since 2002.
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @09:51AM (#52482745)

    After all those decades of various Linux distributions unsuccessfully trying to look like Windows, now you can make Windows actually look like one such distributions - Ubuntu.

    Oh, the irony. It seems that the Year of Linux on the Desktop has finally arrived, but not in a way anyone could have anticipated :)

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @09:54AM (#52482759)

      If unity can run, then other more windows-like managers might also. Say Mint's skinned version of Mate or Cinnamon. Might be an interesting way of evading the adverts plastered into the hackjob of the win10 start menu.

      Some part of me sees this as the "embrace" stage of the dreaded trio though.

      • It's too late for me. I killed off my last Win partition quite a while ago - gladly I might add. And even if Unity or Mint *can* run atop W10, I'm happy using real Linux, top to bottom.
      • Some part of me sees this as the "embrace" stage of the dreaded trio though.

        Oh not this again. Look Microsoft is no longer doing that. This is quite clear from the direction the company is going. Embrace Extend Extinguish was a fantastic move by an industry leader to squash the competition and retain the throne as the biggest and most relevant company in the software industry.

        All the people with these good ideas have left the company now and the only thing that is left is how we can fail at mobile even harder than before and how far we can push our dumb customers before they switch

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Yeah, get the look of Linux and the security of Windows....it's what we've always wanted!!

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      After all those decades of various Linux distributions unsuccessfully trying to look like Windows

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Has been possible ~forever where ~forever is defined as for about 15 years time ;D

    • After all those decades of various Linux distributions unsuccessfully trying to look like Windows,

      I don't know about that. Slackware could be made to look pretty much exactly like Windows 95. Also, not that it's Windows, but back when we had Emerald and AWN you could make Ubuntu (etc.) look pretty much exactly like OSX. I've seen some pretty convincing XP themes, too; probably at least some of them were actually made out of the same images as the actual XP theme.

      now you can make Windows actually look like one such distributions - Ubuntu.

      You've been able to make Windows look like Linux for ages. There's a bunch of utilities for skinning it, and Windows has had fairly proper them

    • Yawn... KDE has been able to run on Windows for about ten years using Cygwin.
  • Great (Score:1, Funny)

    by ttyX ( 1546893 )
    Now lets give them systemd
    • Feels like a Hillary/Trump type debate here SystemD/Win10....pick the lesser of 2 evils
    • Now lets give them systemd

      I was just thinking this. Whats next? Forcing systemd on the Windows world?? WTF.

      They take the worst UI for Linux and make it available to Windows and thats supposed to be an improvement? The default UI in Windows 10 is WAY more usable than Unity.

      • Sure but this is only a proof of concept done by Canonicalistas. Surely you can launch window manager/DE of choice using similar steps.

  • None of the linked article explain how this is done. Can anyone chime in and explain? Are the binaries in ELF or in PE? Did they finally complete a POSIX-compatible libc or did they implement the Linux kernel syscall API? Is there some kind of host process that intercepts the syscalls and implements them in user space?
    • Re:How does it work? (Score:4, Informative)

      by benjymouse ( 756774 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:18AM (#52482883)

      The subsystem for Linux (SFL) implements a (large) subset of Linux syscalls.It allows unmodified ELF64 binaries to run. The syscalls are implemented in kernel, but acts upon Windows resources.

      • So it's Line as in "Line is not an emulator"?

        • So it's Line as in "Line is not an emulator"?

          Yeah, pretty much. The NT kernel was designed from the start to support multiple subsystems (think OS/2, POSIX, Windows). Hence, there's an abstraction layer that lay dormant but came in handy for something like this.

          SFL builds upon something called "pico processes" - which is derived from the initial idea of multiple subsystems. A pico process is a process that is stripped for everything OS specific. It can be used to build "Linux-like" processes on top instead of Windows processes. But it seems that it re

          • by cusco ( 717999 )

            SFL is implemented as kernel-level syscalls from processes/threads that are not Windows processes/threads

            That sounds dangerous as all hell, an escalation just waiting to happen. Or am I misunderstanding?

          • Very interesting, thanks.

      • Now all we need is Wine support. So we can run Windows Apps in Linux, in Windows, in Linux, in Windows, in Linux, in Windows...

        Does that count as a stack overflow?
    • Re:How does it work? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:22AM (#52482895) Homepage Journal

      It's linked in the second page attached to this story:
      https://github.com/Microsoft/BashOnWindows/issues/637 [github.com]

    • Wine on Linux, but, the other way around.
      Also, see iBCS under Linux. I'd used this nearly 20 years ago to run other OS binaries directly on Linux (without virtualization).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is incorrect. Wine is a userspace shim that operates at the library-call (API) layer, and translates Windows API calls like `CreateFile` to Linux equivalents.

        The subsystem for Linux on the other hand operates at the system call (ABI) layer, implementing Linux system calls in the Windows kernel.

  • If they can get a build environment going, then NetBSD's pkgsrc collection ported over, we are in good shape.

  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:00AM (#52482797) Homepage Journal

    If small developers with limited time budgets can just target their game at Linux, and have it automagically run on Windows, this might be quite the attractive option. No porting, just write for one "lowest common denominator" and let the OSes themselves sort it out. I would assume things intended to be cross-platform, like Vulkan, would also fit into this "it just works, everywhere" paradigm.

    • Interesting thought... though unfortunately, when it comes to games, the biggest issue is that they are (usually) tied to Direct X, which is Microsoft Only.

      There are efforts to port Direct X to Linux (the WINE guys), its an uphill battle as it requires tonnes of reverse engineering and testing, plus MS likes to make massive changes in new versions.

      If game developers were to move away from Direct X, and on to something cross-platform, then the bar is much lower to supporting Linux and friends.

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @06:03PM (#52485309)

        If game developers were to move away from Direct X, and on to something cross-platform, then the bar is much lower to supporting Linux and friends.

        Speaking as a game developer... I'd suggest its not any technical hurdles that keep games away from Linux. Most game engines, whether commercial or custum, are written in portable C++, and use abstraction layers to hide any platform-specific code. In my own game engine, I'd estimate that platform-specific code only amounts to less than 5% of the total code.

        Rather, I think it's simply the market-share of Linux... or rather, the lack thereof. Many games have Mac ports, meaning they obviously have an OpenGL renderer and POSIX compliant backend, but still no Linux support. It's pretty hard to get motivated to support an entirely new platform that only has 1% market-share, and it doesn't help matters when that 1% is further fragmented into a bunch of different distros, further complicating support and compatibility testing.

        It's the same problem Windows phones have. By all accounts, Windows phones are pretty nice, but no one makes apps for them because of the abysmal market-share, which in turn drives more users away. It's sort of a catch-22 for platforms with a small market-share, making it extremely difficult to break in.

        • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

          I understand about market share. Say Linux is 10%, OS X is 20%, and Windows is 70%, just for the sake of argument. Right now it seems to pay to develop for the 70%, then maybe port for the 20%. What I'm proposing is that the mechanism works the other way around. Target the 10% knowing that the other 90% will be able to just run it unchanged. It may not have the right "skin" for that platform, but I can't think of many games that do, and the "authorized look and feel" changes from time to time anyhow. This d

          • It depends on what you mean by "Linux". When you say Windows there are only a couple of actual versions that it would be, if you're talking about Linux it's just the kernel and there are many many different customized Linux-based operating systems and different drivers with varing performance under certain circumstances. For example you have SteamOS and Valve partnered with nVidia to include their proprietary drivers and Gameworks technology in Valve's Linux-based operating system, yes it's Linux but that d
        • If the Game Engines are already abstracting this away, why /not/ provide builds for smaller OS's. I know there are extensions to Visual Studio to build binaries for Linux.

          I think what a lot of game developers are missing is that gaming is the /only/ reason many users are keeping Windows. I'm 100% positive I know at least a dozen people personally (and I'm not a very social person) that would ditch Windows completely if they could game easier on Linux. Is that extra 1% effort not worth it to you to provide a

          • There are a few reasons. Many commercial games use a lot of middleware libraries, not just the game engine (just count the logos on some games' splash screen). I was working as a contractor for a port recently, and I think there was easily a dozen middleware components in the game. These types of libraries tend to be licensed on a per-platform basis. Even if they're available on Linux at all, the licensing costs alone might preclude any reasonable chance at profits. Moreover, it's never "free" to devel

            • Thank you for your further input.

              I guess the TL;DR version is "because bu$ine$$" which is what I always assumed in the first place. I'm guessing very few (if any) managers or higher-ups even know that anything exists beyond Windows and OS X (or "PC" and "Mac" as they usually put it). I can see the uphill battle if a dev team tried to push for it.

              Personally I don't actually play video games. I just don't see the appeal when I could be doing something more constructive with my time. I also have a wife and kid

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        This is exactly where Vulkan and perhaps OpenGL have to take up the slack. For all the things Notch did wrong coding Minecraft, he made a fundamentally sound decision to not be tied to any particular OS or hardware platform. So long as the cross-compatibility can be maintained while ditching the pitfalls of Java, that part of the model is something other developers should look to emulate, because it worked out very well. Minecraft "just runs" on pretty much anything with sufficient power to run it. Unfortun

  • Ok - I fail to see how this is news. Cygwin has provided Gnu tools in windows forever. Cygwin-X has provided X11 in Windows forever.

    So now Ubuntu has repacked the existing capability and it is news?

    I fail to see what is new here.

    I have had access to Bash on Windows since at least 2000.

    Do we all just forget what we had before and then decide it's new when we see it again?

    • Well, ht young kiddies use Ubuntu, and for them everything is new.
    • Now, the POSIX system calls are not run completely in user space.

      The SFU/SUA crap did this for Windows since NT 4.

      You will NEED the speed - because Win 10 abuses use of hardware to the point of teary-eyed frustration.

    • Ok - I fail to see how this is news. Cygwin has provided Gnu tools in windows forever. Cygwin-X has provided X11 in Windows forever.

      SFL and Cygwin have drastically different performance profiles.

      SFL is syscall translation in kernel space running on pico processes; Cygwin is syscall emulation in userspace running Windows processes and Windows threads.

      Windows is built around an object oriented philosophy (handles) where, for instance, access rights are established upon handle creation. Handles covers many more types of resources in Windows compared to e.g. file descriptors or inodes in Linux. But the key difference is in lifetime. Under L

  • It's a trap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:06AM (#52482833)
    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish...
  • by NReitzel ( 77941 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:13AM (#52482857) Homepage

    So you can run Unity in Windows.

    "Now it looks like you can even load Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment, making windows 10 look like Ubuntu."

    First off, isn't that kind of like buying a Ferrari rag top and driving it around with reins and a buggy whip?

    Second off, why on Earth would anyone want to inflict Unity on Windows. I don't much care for Windows, but have a heart!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Canonical doesn't see Windows as reins and a buggy whip, but as a monetizing layer. If Microsoft gives Canonical a kickback for every Ubuntu-on-Windows-10 user, then Canonical might discontinue profitless standalone-Ubuntu.

  • by dbreeze ( 228599 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:18AM (#52482881)

    i just put Debian Jessie on an older laptop to fart around with some LinuxCNC after several years of using *buntu near exclusively. I like it, there's something reassuring in having a definite root user account again. Xfce is crisp on this old celeron with 500MB memory...
    I'm old-school and was getting into computers before Microsoft was much of anything. They have epitomized all that is wrong with corporate power from the beginning. I don't trust them. I don't want anything to do with them. I don't want to be tied to anything that's tied to them at all, if at all possible.

    "The love of money is the root of all evil." When you see evil in something, it is wise to separate yourself from it...

    • Become root on Ubuntu (sudo su, etc.) then type "passwd". It's all that's needed to be able to log in as root again.
      You can disable sudo by messing in /etc/sudoers, or configure it but that's only needed for real multi-user machines.

  • Some compare this to embrace and extend. Some IE features such as XMLHTTPRequest that Microsoft added to the web actually made interactive web possible for things like messaging apps. Instead of balking at Microsoft's ideas, why not adopt them into open source projects? If microsoft had not adopted Web technology it would have instead made its own entirely proprietary protocol. I dont know, it sounds like its much easier to emulate a few Microsoft extensions to an open protocol than to try to emulate an ent

    • Some IE features such as XMLHTTPRequest that Microsoft added to the web actually made interactive web possible for things like messaging apps. Instead of balking at Microsoft's ideas, why not adopt them into open source projects?

      So, what have the Romans ever done for us? But seriously, Microsoft does have the occasional good idea, but they are dramatically outnumbered by the bad ideas they implement.

      Instead of working with Microsoft. I think Canonical should be working with Dell, Lenovo, HP etc to get Linux to support more PC hardware adn get Linux installed as an alternative on off the shelf computers. These makers could also fund WINE and a Windows driver compatability layer for Linux, which would eventually payoff in freeing them from MS royalties.

      Here's the problem with that idea: it is not really possible. It's possible to emulate Linux because it's open. If it doesn't follow the documentation you can see precisely why, where, how, etc. We don't have that luxury with Windows. Wine can improve, sure. But be as good as a Linux compatibility layer? Absolutely not.

    • It took the various Web-standards organizations 10+ years to provide a sane HTML height/width option - with "display: flex;"

      Then there was IE that sanely used (by default) "box-sizing:border-box;" - which conflicted with every other browser as "border-box" includes padding and borders.

      CSS does the width include the padding? (2009) [stackoverflow.com]

      • You are incompetent. IE 6 supports the proper box model

        • Not unless you force IE6 into strict-mode.

          box-sizing - CSS | MDN [mozilla.org]


          The width and height properties include the content, the padding and border, but not the margin. This is the box model used by Internet Explorer when the document is in Quirks mode. Note that padding and border will be inside of the box e.g. .box {width: 350px; border: 10px solid black;} leads to a box rendered in the browser of width: 350px. The content box can't be negative and is floored to 0, making it impossible to use border-box to make the element disappear.

          Here the dimension is calculated as, width = border + padding + width of the content, and height = border + padding + height of the content.

          Although, perhaps less incompetent than yourself, as I don't insult others when I don't know what the fuck I am talking about.

    • Fortunately much of Linux userland is under GPL so if Microsoft does make any change to a Linux userland tool, it would have to contribute it.

      Well nothing that they distribute in Windows can be GPL anyway.

      Instead of working with Microsoft. I think Canonical should be working with Dell, Lenovo, HP etc to get Linux to support more PC hardware

      They already are, the Dell Inspiron [dell.com] can be configured with Ubuntu, their XPS 13 [dell.com] edition comes with it installed as do a various number of their Precision workstations listed here [dell.com]. The problem is certainly not availability and compatibility, the problem is that people don't want it.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @10:54AM (#52483023) Homepage
    Boy, that's got to be something a whole two masochists would want to do. Take the worst part of Linux and run it in Windows! Wow! I think I'd rather put toothpicks under my fingernails.
  • You could have already done this in a VM in Windows. The idea of actually running Linux applications in Windows without a VM seems nice, but actually, it integrates so poorly with normal Windows apps that you might as well be running a VM. Trying to access the same files from Windows and Ubuntu within the root file system leads to problems. You can only do that within the drives, such as /mnt/c. You cannot run Windows applications from the Linux command line or Linux applications from the Windows command li
    • It's primary usage was for development environments, or being able to interface with your external Linux servers via the Linux command-line. Which totally falls in line with their business prospects, as a significant chunk of Microsoft's Azure infrastructure is being utilized for FreeBSD and Linux.
      • Still the professional editions of Windows come with Hyper-V these days so why bother? This would be useful in the Windows 7 days for those non administrators who didn't want to shell big bucks for VMWare workstation. Of course for a few dollars a month you can get Azure or Amazon E3 clouds

        • I'll probably use it. SSH within the linux commandline instead of Putty. Unless copy-paste is completely broken.
  • For those people who hate both Unity and Windows.
  • Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DougReed ( 102865 ) on Sunday July 10, 2016 @11:16AM (#52483133)

    So now I can overlay one dreadful GUI with another equally dreadful GUI.

    Why would I want to do this?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are the three letter agencies are so desperate to get everyone onto the Windows 10 spyware platform that they'll try and persuade people this is a cool idea? Or is it embrace, extend, extinguish? I think open software, allowing people the freedom to choose not to give all their data to some massive state/corporate owned database, is something that annoys some of the powers that be so much that they'll try to get people into their clutches by any means.

  • Let's see- Unity or MS-Windows 10 interfaces? What kind of choice is that? Just shoot me! I think I will stick with KDE, Mate, Cinnamon, LXDE, or XFCE!

  • Being able to run Linux apps in Windows is like bragging that gold leaf will float in a sewage tank.

  • Wow. havent seen that in a long time.

  • So Windows got linux/ubuntu emulator?
    Should we call it "Uine" or better yet "Line"?

    "Line" is not an emulator?

  • "It also opens the door to running alternate desktop environments if youâ(TM)re not a fan of the Windows user interface (although the method described in that link uses Cygwin rather than Ubuntu on Windows."

    Now if you could only get rid of that pesky spyware laden operating system under it then you would be golden.

  • run that turd of a desktop on Linux. Never mind Windows.

    Unity was born when there was some plan to have Ubuntu touch interfaces on tablets and phones. By the time anything was delivered that mostly worked, that ship had sailed. Apple and Android had both markets locked up.

    In a sense it's not that different from the UI from Windows 8 that was intended to have similar ubiquity, and was largely as reviled.

  • ...OTOH, KDE had their stuff on Windows since around the release of KDE4 (see windows.kde.org); KDE only lacked Terminal Support (so no Konsole) because Microsoft didn't have a property PTY/console device; and Plasma was capable of replacing the Explorer shell for most of that time though the option was disabled.

    However, as you can see it never took off. So don't expect the same for Ubuntu's Unity.
  • Does it actually run instead of the Windows 10 desktop or is it just running over it?

  • The promised year of Linux on the desktop ! or close enough.

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie