Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

Linux GUI Apps In Windows

19 May 2020

Day 25 of the #100DaysToOffload Series:

A long time ago, back in 2001, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (Developers Developers Developers!!) called Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”. In recent days, now Microsoft president Brad Smith has admitted they were wrong about that, and they’ve been working on Windows Subsystem for Linux to bring some of the functionality of Linux to Windows. Now, Microsoft is going to be making running Linux GUI apps in Windows easy to do, and I think it’s a great idea. Kinda.

Yep, that’s right. Microsoft said Windows 10 will soon be able to run Linux GUI apps. They’re even adding GPU support to WSL to make things run more smoothly.

We’re a long way from Ballmer calling Linux “cancer” here.

Do I think it’s a good idea? Yes and no.


Let’s get the negative talk out of the way first. Why don’t I think it’s a good idea? Well, if you’re wanting to run Linux GUI apps, the best place to do that is in Linux. Plus, after being in the IT industry for twenty-five years now, I can’t get the “Embrace Extend Extinguish” out of my head when it comes to Microsoft.

Is Microsoft trying to work with Linux and Open Source these days? It seems so. It worked with Apple when Apple as developing their macOS back in the 80s too. It worked with Netscape back in the 90s. It’s working with Linux and the Open Source community now.

Does that mean that Microsoft’s motivations are nefarious?

Not necessarily, and even I’m willing to admit that, but I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised if Microsoft turned on the Open Source Community the first time they think it will benefit them. After all, they’re a “For Profit” corporation, and they’re not in the market to be magnanimous.

So, you’re going to get a better Linux environment by using real Linux and you never have to worry about being double crossed by Microsoft if you go that route.


OK, so you’re using a Windows computer, and you don’t have the hardware, time, whatever, to install a pure Linux environment to work with. You want to be able to do that in Windows.

This is a good thing for you.

This may also be a good thing for you from a security perspective. If you can run the Linux version of Firefox isolated from the rest of your OS to the point where it’s almost like running the browser in its very own virtual machine, this could help isolate your browser from Internet based threats.

I’m going to see about getting this installed on my work computer. I’m stuck with Windows there, and the closer I can get to an actual Linux computer the better. I can’t get a full Linux system, but I can pretend.

All in all, I think it’s better to have an actual Linux system than a corporate monolith pretending to be a Linux system. Still, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing.

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