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Offline Parsifal

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Windows Subsystem for Linux
« on: February 15, 2017, 08:32:08 AM »
Let me start out by saying that the name "Windows Subsystem for Linux" is terribly misleading. It is not a subsystem for Linux at all, but a subsystem for Windows. It allows running unmodified Linux applications on Windows 10.

Now that that's out of the way, this looks very promising. Microsoft have made this feature available following an announcement in April 2016. Windows NT has always been designed to allow the development of different subsystems for executing different kinds of applications, but this is the first time it's been taken to the point of allowing unmodified Linux binaries to run directly on the NT kernel.

As someone who boots into Windows only to play a couple of games, I find the continual reboot cycle between Windows and operating systems that let me actually do useful work very tedious. I was curious if this subsystem was featureful enough to allow me to use a Windows system as if it were Linux, but with the ability to launch Windows-only applications as desired.

It turns out that someone has successfully gotten my window manager to run on Windows, complete with all the normal applications you'd expect from a Linux desktop. The main caveat there appears to be that i3 is confined to a window within the Windows desktop, rather than taking over the role of the Windows shell, but it's a start.

What I would really like is for i3 to manage the desktop itself and also be able to display Windows applications within X. That might be a bit much to ask, but this is intriguing enough that I'm going to give it a try and report back here.
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 05:24:19 PM »
This actually works really well. I'm impressed.

I did spend a little time fucking around with Xming, which has the really annoying behaviour of randomly not starting a font server properly sometimes. I'm now using VcXsrv instead, which is working flawlessly. I wrote a batch script to start everything up on login, and now I can't believe it's not Linux!

There are a couple of caveats, though.

First, I tried upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04 to the latest Debian. The upgrade worked, but the Linux emulation in Windows doesn't support all the features expected by a newer distribution, so some things just don't work right. I've reinstalled on Ubuntu 14.04 now, with the i3 package repo and this backports PPA so I get modern versions of i3 and HexChat, and that seems to work ok.

Second, some programs simply don't work. Iridium is one (and probably also Chromium/Chrome, though I haven't tested those), because the Linux sandboxing mechanism isn't implemented. i3status from the i3 package repo segfaults, but the (older) version from the Ubuntu repo works fine.

Third, I had to do some messing around to get i3 set up the way I like it, since by default the Windows key is intercepted by Windows and brings up the Start menu. By carefully remapping things around a bit in Windows, I now have that functioning as a meta key in i3, with F12 bringing up the Start menu if I need it.

All things considered, I can now use my Windows system as though it were Linux, with very few signs that it's not. The main thing I'm still a little irked about is not being able to use Iridium, as I much prefer that to Firefox, but any browser will browse.
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Offline Pongo

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2017, 05:31:55 PM »
Was all this effort made so that you can get scammed into buying space polygons?

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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 06:10:37 PM »
Confirmed that Chromium also does not work. Sad!

Also, my usual behaviour with i3 is for WinKey+L to run xlock, which locks the machine. Since that would only lock the X server here, which can easily be escaped by Alt+Tabbing back to Windows, I just configured AutoHotKey to make that key combination lock the computer in Windows itself. Everything works as intended, even from within Linux.
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Offline Particle Person

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2017, 07:19:11 PM »
How's that download coming
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Offline SexWarrior

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2017, 09:56:42 PM »
The main thing I'm still a little irked about is not being able to use Iridium, as I much prefer that to Firefox, but any browser will browse.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but is there any reason why you wouldn't just use the Windows build of Iridium?
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<Parsifal> Do I really have to write 6000-word sentences just to remove all ambiguity from everything I'm saying?

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Offline junker

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 11:00:44 PM »
"Windows Subsystem for Linux" is terribly misleading. It is not a subsystem for Linux at all, but a subsystem for Windows.

>"terribly misleading"
>"not a subsystem for Linux at all, but a subsystem for Windows."
>literally called Windows Subsystem...
>tfw


First, I tried upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04 to the latest Debian. The upgrade worked, but the Linux emulation in Windows doesn't support all the features expected by a newer distribution, so some things just don't work right. I've reinstalled on Ubuntu 14.04 now...

Did you try Ubuntu 16.04? It can be installed using the 'lxrun' command from Windows. Not sure if it would yield any different results for what you are trying to do.


Perhaps I'm missing something, but is there any reason why you wouldn't just use the Windows build of Iridium?

Do you even Parsifal bro?
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2017, 12:22:47 AM »
The main thing I'm still a little irked about is not being able to use Iridium, as I much prefer that to Firefox, but any browser will browse.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but is there any reason why you wouldn't just use the Windows build of Iridium?

I cannot use Windows applications within my Linux window manager (only vice versa, which would lose me all the benefits of i3), so that would require continually switching between Linux and Windows desktops. Using Firefox is less inconvenient.

Edit: It looks like SeamlessRDP may offer a solution. I don't know what kind of performance penalty I can expect, though.

"Windows Subsystem for Linux" is terribly misleading. It is not a subsystem for Linux at all, but a subsystem for Windows.

>"terribly misleading"
>"not a subsystem for Linux at all, but a subsystem for Windows."
>literally called Windows Subsystem...
>tfw

That name would make perfect sense if it did the opposite of what it actually does. It should be called "Linux Subsystem for Windows".

First, I tried upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04 to the latest Debian. The upgrade worked, but the Linux emulation in Windows doesn't support all the features expected by a newer distribution, so some things just don't work right. I've reinstalled on Ubuntu 14.04 now...

Did you try Ubuntu 16.04? It can be installed using the 'lxrun' command from Windows. Not sure if it would yield any different results for what you are trying to do.

I wasn't aware you could do that. Microsoft's installation instructions just walk you through installing 14.04. That sounds a lot better.

Edit: It turns out doing that would require updating my version of Windows. While I don't mind doing so, Windows is incapable of installing updates (it inevitably gets to 99% done and then says "we couldn't apply changes" and undoes everything), so I have no way of getting 16.04.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 12:46:22 AM by Parsifal »
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 01:48:35 AM »
I have signed up to the Windows Insider Programme to get the Ubuntu 16.04 goodness. Let's see if that update will install.
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Offline junker

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 04:14:06 AM »
I have signed up to the Windows Insider Programme...

This is the darkest timeline.
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 07:31:58 AM »
So as it turns out, my Windows system not only won't let me select a "ring" for the Insider Program, but is still failing to apply updates even after nuking all the previously-downloaded updates and trying again. I'm also finding that the "Subsystem for Linux" [sic] gets a little unstable running for more than an hour or so at a time, with odd crashes and freezes.

I'm going to try a fresh new install of the Insider preview version of Windows this weekend, and will then set up Ubuntu 16.04 from scratch. That will also give me the opportunity to document the process in a blog post.
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Offline SexWarrior

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 01:17:46 PM »
Let's see if that update will install.
Windows Update is a bag of dicks. Sometimes it fails horrendously and won't unfail until you've cleared its cache. I don't know if that's what you were referring to when you said you "nuked all the previously-downloaded updates", but if not, that link is worth trying.
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2017, 01:30:03 PM »
Let's see if that update will install.
Windows Update is a bag of dicks. Sometimes it fails horrendously and won't unfail until you've cleared its cache. I don't know if that's what you were referring to when you said you "nuked all the previously-downloaded updates", but if not, that link is worth trying.

Yes, that is what I tried.

I'm wondering if Windows is throwing a hissy fit because I replaced its MBR with GRUB.
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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2017, 04:32:48 PM »
So as it turns out, my Windows system not only won't let me select a "ring" for the Insider Program, but is still failing to apply updates even after nuking all the previously-downloaded updates and trying again. I'm also finding that the "Subsystem for Linux" [sic] gets a little unstable running for more than an hour or so at a time, with odd crashes and freezes.

I'm going to try a fresh new install of the Insider preview version of Windows this weekend, and will then set up Ubuntu 16.04 from scratch. That will also give me the opportunity to document the process in a blog post.
Yeah, I had that too.

Did you install the anniversary version?  Cause apparently it sometimes fails to install that and thus any update after will auto-fail.
I had to backtrack to the last update, manually download the anniversary update, apply that, then apply the cumulative update.  Manually.

Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2017, 07:13:00 AM »
I have signed up to the Windows Insider Programme...

This is the darkest timeline.

For his computer and the free software movement.



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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 04:17:14 PM »
After some amount of fucking around getting a usable installation medium, I am now installing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15002 from scratch. This time I'm going to take note of all the steps involved in setting up Ubuntu so I can write a blog post or something about it.
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2017, 05:32:55 PM »
And after all that, great success:

Code: [Select]
steven@DESKTOP-08HTROC:/mnt/c/Users/steve$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
Release:        16.04
Codename:       xenial
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Offline junker

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2017, 07:16:37 PM »
You're welcome for the 16.04 advice.
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Offline Parsifal

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Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2017, 07:25:41 PM »
You're welcome for the 16.04 advice.

Well the test release of Windows I had to install to get 16.04 has now broken to the point that I can't even bring up the Start menu, so don't take credit for everything just yet.
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Offline junker

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Windows Subsystem for Linux
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2017, 07:45:15 PM »
You're welcome for the 16.04 advice.

Well the test release of Windows I had to install to get 16.04 has now broken to the point that I can't even bring up the Start menu, so don't take credit for everything just yet.

Start menu broken... welcome to Windows 10. An incredibly common occurrence.

Make sure the firewall service is running and then run from an elevated powershell prompt:
Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

EDIT- added the thing which I think will break bash on ubuntu on windows anyway.

Welcome to Windows
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 07:56:00 PM by junker »
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