Bash shell, now on Windows

At this year’s Microsoft Build Developers Conference, Microsoft has announced they’re bringing the Bash shell to Windows.

Rich Turner and Russ Alexander, senior program managers at Microsoft, gave a presentation of Bash running on Windows with demonstrations of what it lets you do.

The title describes what it is in simple terms. It’s not just Bash on Windows, but the entire Ubuntu usermode interfacing with the Windows API.

Microsoft has partnered with Canonical to take their popular Ubuntu OS, strip it from its Linux kernel, and let the rest run on Windows. There is no VM involved, no need for Cygwin, and Bash is not recompiled for Windows—it’s an actual chunk of Ubuntu running on Windows; even the binaries think they’re being executed on Linux.

In the video above, we can see how it’s possible to not only run Bash, but also browse the C: drive mounted in /mnt/c like it was in Linux, compile binaries, use apt-get to install Git, run Vim, Ruby, etc. One can imagine it’s possible already to install another shell like zsh if you don’t like Bash.

Either way, this should be quite promising for those who prefer Linux for Web development, but would rather stay on Windows for other things, like Office or games.

This is only a preview, however, and they did underline some of the problems they’re trying to resolve. These include MySQL and many Ruby gems not yet working yet.

Given OS X having a UNIX-like core was one of the excuses to make me move away from Windows and desktop Linux, I wonder if this will be enough to make me go back to Windows, or at least tolerate it more.

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