Scott Hanselman

Ubuntu now in the Windows Store: Updates to Linux on Windows 10 and Important Tips

July 10, '17 Comments [16] Posted in Linux | Win10
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I noticed this blog post about Ubuntu over at the Microsoft Command Line blog. Ubuntu is now available from the Windows Store for builds of Windows over 16215.

image

You can run "Winver" to see your build number of Windows. If you run Windows 10 you can certainly sign up for the Windows Insiders builds, or you can wait a few months until these features make their way to the mainstream. I've been running Windows 10 Insiders "Fast ring" for a while with a few issues but nothing blocking.

The addition of Ubuntu to the Windows Store may initially seem confusing or even a little bizarre. However, given a minute to understand the larger architecture it make a lot of sense. However, for those of us who have been beta-testing these features, the move to the Windows Store will require some manual steps in order for you to reap the benefits.

Here's how I see it.

  • For the early betas of the Windows Subsystem for Linux you type bash from anywhere and it runs Ubuntu on Windows.
  • Ubuntu on Windows hides its filesystem in C:\Users\scott\AppData\Local\somethingetcetc and you shouldn't go there or touch it.
  • By moving the tar files and Linux distro installation into the store, that allows us users to use the Store's CDN (Content Distrubution Network) to get Distros quickly and easily. 
    • Just turn on the feature and REBOOT
      Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

then hit the store to get the binaries!

Ok, now this is where and why it gets interesting.

Soon (later this month I'm told) we will be able to have n number of native Linux distros on our Windows 10 machines at one time. You can install as many as you like from the store. No VMs, just fast Linux...on Windows!

There is a utility for the Windows Subsystem for Linux called "wslconfig" that Windows 10 has.

C:\>wslconfig
Performs administrative operations on Windows Subsystem for Linux

Usage:
/l, /list [/all] - Lists registered distributions.
/all - Optionally list all distributions, including distributions that
are currently being installed or uninstalled.
/s, /setdefault <DistributionName> - Sets the specified distribution as the default.
/u, /unregister <DistributionName> - Unregisters a distribution.

C:\WINDOWS\system32>wslconfig /l
Windows Subsystem for Linux Distributions:
Ubuntu (Default) Fedora
OpenSUSE

At this point when I type "bash" at the regular Windows command prompt or PowerShell I will be launching my default Linux. I can also just type "Ubuntu" or "Fedora," etc to get a specific one.

If I wanted to test my Linux code (.NET, node, go, ruby, whatever) I could script it from Windows and run my tests on n number of distros. Slick for developers.

TODOs if you have WSL and Bash from earlier betas

If you already have "bash" on your Windows 10 machine and want to move to the "many distros" you'll just install the Ubuntu distro from the store and then move your distro customizations out of the "legacy/beta bash" over to the "new train but beta although getting closer to release WSL." I copied my ~/ folder over to /mnt/c/Users/Scott/Desktop/WSLBackup, then opened Ubuntu and copied my .rc files and whatnot back in. Then I removed my original bash with lxrun /uninstall. Once I've done that, my distro are managed by the store and I can have as many as I like. Other than customizations, it's really easy (like, it's not a big deal and it's fast) to add or remove Linuxes on Windows 10 so fear not. Backup your stuff and this will be a 10 min operation, plus whatever apt-get installs you need to redo. Everything else is the same and you'll still want to continue storing and sharing files via /mnt/c.

NOTE: I did a YouTube video called Editing code and files on Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10 that I'd love if you checked out and shared on social media!

Enjoy!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Trying .NET Core on Linux with just a tarball (without apt-get)

June 8, '17 Comments [14] Posted in DotNetCore | Linux
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There's a great post on the .NET Blog about the crazy Performance Improvements in .NET Core that ended up on Hacker News. The top comment on HN is a great one that points out that the http://dot.net  website could be simpler, that it could be a one-pager with a clearer Getting Started experience.

They also said this:

Also, have a simple downloadable .tar.gz which expands into /bin + /lib + /examples. I loved C# back in my Windows days and I moved to Linux to escape Microsoft complexities and over-reliance on complex IDEs and tools, scattered like shrapnel all over my c:/

I will not run apt-get against your repo without knowing ahead of time what I'm getting and where will it all go, so let me play with the tarball first.

This is a great point, and we're going to look at revamping and simplifying the http://dot.net/core with this in mind in the next few weeks. They're saying that the Linux instructions, like these instructions on installing .NET Core on Ubuntu for example, make you trust a 3rd party apt repro and apt-get .NET, while they want a more non-committal option. This gets to the larger "the website is getting bigger than it needs to be and confusing" point.

.NET Core from a tarbar on Linux

Trying out .NET Core from a tarball

Go to https://www.microsoft.com/net/download/linux and download the .tar.gz for your distro to a nice local area.

NOTE: You MAY need to apt-get install libunwind8 if you get an error like "Failed to load /home/ubuntu/teste-dotnet-rc2/libcoreclr.so, error: libunwind.so.8: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory" but libunwind isn't very controversial.

Once you've unziped/tar'd it into a local folder, just be sure to run dotnet from that folder.

Desktop $ mkdir dotnetlinux
Desktop $ cd dotnetlinux/
dotnetlinux $ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description: Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
Release: 16.04
Codename: xenial
dotnetlinux $ curl -o dotnet.tar.gz https://download.microsoft.com/download/E/7/8/E782433E-7737-4E6C-BFBF-290A0A81C3D7/dotnet-dev-ub
untu.16.04-x64.1.0.4.tar.gz
dotnetlinux $ tar -xvf dotnet.tar.gz
dotnetlinux $ cd /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/localdotnettest/
localdotnettest $ ../dotnetlinux/dotnet new console
Content generation time: 103.842 ms
The template "Console Application" created successfully.
localdotnettest $ ../dotnetlinux/dotnet restore
Restoring packages for /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/localdotnettest/localdotnettest.csproj...
localdotnettest $ ../dotnetlinux/dotnet run
Hello World!

There aren't samples in this tar file (yet) but there are (some weak) samples at https://github.com/dotnet/core/tree/master/samples you can clone https://github.com/dotnet/core.git and run them from samples. Note from the ReadMe that https://github.com/dotnet/core is the jumping off point for the other repos.

The more interesting "samples" are the templates you have available to you from "dotnet new."

localdotnettest $ /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/dotnetlinux/dotnet new
*SNIP*

Templates Short Name Language Tags
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Console Application console [C#], F# Common/Console
Class library classlib [C#], F# Common/Library
Unit Test Project mstest [C#], F# Test/MSTest
xUnit Test Project xunit [C#], F# Test/xUnit
ASP.NET Core Empty web [C#] Web/Empty
ASP.NET Core Web App mvc [C#], F# Web/MVC
ASP.NET Core Web API webapi [C#] Web/WebAPI
Solution File sln Solution

Examples:
dotnet new mvc --auth None --framework netcoreapp1.1
dotnet new classlib
dotnet new --help

From here you can "dotnet new web" or "dotnet new console" using your local dotnet before you decide to commit to installing .NET Core from an apt repo or yum or whatever.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Setting up a Shiny Development Environment within Linux on Windows 10

April 13, '17 Comments [43] Posted in Linux | Win10
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While I was getting Ruby on Rails to work nicely under Ubuntu on Windows 10 I took the opportunity to set up my *nix bash environment, which was largely using defaults. Yes, I know I can use zsh or fish or other shells. Yes, I know I can use emacs and screen, but I am using Vim and tmux. Fight me. Anyway, once my post was done, I starting messing around with open source .NET Core on Linux (it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but here I'm running on Linux on Windows. #Inception) and tweeted a pic of my desktop.

By the way, I feel totally vindicated by all the interest in "text mode" given my 2004 blog post "Windows is completely missing the TextMode boat." ;)'

Also, for those of you who are DEEPLY NOT INTERESTED in the command line, that's cool. You can stop reading now. Totally OK. I also use Visual Studio AND Visual Studio Code. Sometimes I click and mouse and sometimes I tap and type. There is room for us all.

WHAT IS ALL THIS LINUX ON WINDOWS STUFF? Here's a FAQ on the Bash/Windows Subsystem for Linux/Ubuntu on Windows/Snowball in Hell and some detailed Release Notes. Yes, it's real, and it's spectacular. Can't read that much text? Here's a video I did on Ubuntu on Windows 10.

A number of people asked me how they could set up their WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) installs to be something like this, so here's what I did. Note that will I've been using *nix on and off for 20+ years, I am by no means an expert. I am, and have been, Permanently Intermediate in my skills. I do not dream in RegEx, and I am offended that others can bust out an awk script without googling.

C9RT5_bUwAALJ-H

So there's a few things going on in this screenshot.

  • Running .NET Core on Linux (on Windows 10)
  • Cool VIM theme with >256 colors
  • Norton Midnight Commander in the corner (thanks Miguel)
  • Desqview-esque tmux splitter (with mouse support)
  • Some hotkey remapping, git prompt, completion
  • Ubuntu Mono font
  • Nice directory colors (DIRCOLORS/LS_COLORS)

Let's break them down one at a time. And, again, your mileage may vary, no warranty express or implied, any of this may destroy your world, you read this on a blog. Linux is infinitely configurable and the only constant is that my configuration rocks and yours sucks. Until I see something in yours that I can steal.

Running .NET Core on Linux (on Windows 10)

Since Linux on Windows 10 is (today) Ubuntu, you can install .NET Core within it just like any Linux. Here's the Ubuntu instructions for .NET Core's SDK. You may have Ubuntu 14.04 or 16.04 (you can upgrade your Linux on Windows if you like). Make sure you know what you're running by doing a:

~ $ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description: Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS
Release: 16.04
Codename: xenial
~ $

If you're not on 16.04 you can easily remove and reinstall the whole subsystem with these commands at cmd.exe (note the /full is serious and torches the Linux filesystem):

> lxrun /uninstall /full
> lxrun /install

Or if you want you can run this within bash (will take longer but maintain settings).

NOTE that you'll need Windows 10 Creators Edition build 16163 or greater to run Ubuntu 16.04. Type "winver" to check your build.

sudo do-release-upgrade

Know what Ubuntu your Windows 10 has when you install .NET Core within it. The other thing to remember is that now you have two .NET Cores, one Windows and one Ubuntu, on the same (kinda) machine. Since the file systems are separated it's not a big deal. I do my development work within Ubuntu on /mnt/d/github (which is a Windows drive). It's OK for the Linux subsystem to edit files in Linux or Windows, but don't "reach into" the Linux file system from Windows.

Cool Vim theme with >256 colors

That Vim theme is gruvbox and I installed it like this. Thanks to Rich Turner for turning me on to this theme.

$ cd ~/
$ mkdir .vim
$ cd .vim
$ mkdir colors
$ cd colors
$ curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/morhetz/gruvbox/master/colors/gruvbox.vim
$ cd ~/
$ vim .vimrc

Paste the following (hit ā€˜iā€™ for insert and then right click/paste)

set number
syntax enable
set background=dark
colorscheme gruvbox
set mouse=a

if &term =~ '256color'
" disable Background Color Erase (BCE) so that color schemes
" render properly when inside 256-color tmux and GNU screen.
" see also http://snk.tuxfamily.org/log/vim-256color-bce.html
set t_ut=
endif

Then save and exit with Esc, :wq (write and quit). There's a ton of themes out there, so try some for yourself!

Norton Midnight Commander in the corner (thanks Miguel)

Midnight Commander is a wonderful Norton Commander clone that Miguel de Icaza started, that's licensed as part of GNU. I installed it via apt, as I would any Ubuntu software.

$ sudo apt-get install mc

There's mouse support within the Windows conhost (console host) that bash runs within, so you'll even get mouse support within Midnight Commander!

Midnight Commander

Great stuff.

Desqview-esque tmux splitter (with mouse support)

Tmux is a terminal multiplexer. It's a text-mode windowing environment within which you can run multiple programs. Even better, you can "detach" from a running session and reattached from elsewhere. Because of this, folks love using tmux on servers where they can ssh in, set up an environment, detach, and reattach from elsewhere.

NOTE: The Windows Subsystem for Linux shuts down all background processes when the last console exits. So you can detach and attach tmux sessions happily, but just make sure you don't close every console on your machine.

Here's a nice animated gif of me moving the splitter on tmux on Windows. YES I KNOW YOU CAN USE THE KEYBOARD BUT THIS GIF IS COOL.

Some hotkey remapping, git prompt, completion

I am still learning tmux but here's my .tmux.conf. I've made a few common changes to make the hotkey creation of windows easier.

#remap prefix from 'C-b' to 'C-a'
unbind C-b
set-option -g prefix C-a
bind-key C-a send-prefix

# split panes using | and -
bind | split-window -h
bind _ split-window -v
unbind '"'
unbind %
bind k confirm kill-window
bind K confirm kill-server
bind < resize-pane -L 1
bind > resize-pane -R 1
bind - resize-pane -D 1
bind + resize-pane -U 1
bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf

# switch panes using Alt-arrow without prefix
bind -n M-Left select-pane -L
bind -n M-Right select-pane -R
bind -n M-Up select-pane -U
bind -n M-Down select-pane -D

# Enable mouse control (clickable windows, panes, resizable panes)
set -g mouse on
set -g default-terminal "screen-256color"

I'm using the default Ubuntu .bashrc that includes a check for dircolors (more on this below) but I added this for git-completion.sh and a git prompt, as well as these two alias. I like being able to type "desktop" to jump to my Windows Desktop. And the -x on Midnight Commander helps the mouse support.

alias desktop="cd /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop"
alias mc="mc -x"
export CLICOLOR=1
source ~/.git-completion.sh
PS1='\[\033[37m\]\W\[\033[0m\]$(__git_ps1 " (\[\033[35m\]%s\[\033[0m\])") \$ '
GIT_PS1_SHOWDIRTYSTATE=1
GIT_PS1_SHOWSTASHSTATE=1
GIT_PS1_SHOWUNTRACKEDFILES=1
GIT_PS1_SHOWUPSTREAM="auto"

Git Completion can be installed with:

sudo apt-get install git bash-completion

Ubuntu Mono font

I really like the Ubuntu Mono font, and I like the way it looks when running Ubuntu under Windows. You can download the Ubuntu Font Family free. Right click the downloaded TTF files and right click and "Install," or drag them into C:\windows\fonts. Then click the upper left corner of any Bash console window and change your font to Ubuntu Mono.

Ubuntu Mono

Nice directory colors (DIRCOLORS/LS_COLORS)'

If you have a black command prompt background, then default colors for directories will be dark blue on black, which sucks. Fortunately you can get .dircolors files from all over the wep, or set the LS_COLORS (make sure to search for LS_COLORS for Linux, not the other, different LSCOLORS on Mac) environment variable.

I ended up with "dircolors-solarized" from here, downloaded it with wget or curl and put it in ~. Then confirm this is in your .bashrc (it likely is already)

# enable color support of ls and also add handy aliases
if [ -x /usr/bin/dircolors ]; then
test -r ~/.dircolors && eval "$(dircolors -b ~/.dircolors)" || eval "$(dircolors -b)"
alias ls='ls --color=auto'
alias dir='dir --color=auto'
#alias vdir='vdir --color=auto'

alias grep='grep --color=auto'
alias fgrep='fgrep --color=auto'
alias egrep='egrep --color=auto'
fi

Download whatever .dircolors file makes you happy (make sure the filename ends up as ".dircolors," so you may need to cp yoursourcefile ~/.dircolors and then restart your console.

Make a big difference for me, and as I mention, it's totally, gloriously, maddeningly configurable.

Nice dircolors

Leave YOUR Linux on Windows tips in the comments!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Ruby on Rails on Azure App Service (Web Sites) with Linux (and Ubuntu on Windows 10)

April 12, '17 Comments [10] Posted in Azure | Linux | Ruby
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Running Ruby on Rails on Windows has historically sucked. Most of the Ruby/Rails folks are Mac and Linux users and haven't focused on getting Rails to be usable for daily development on Windows. There have been some heroic efforts by a number of volunteers to get Rails working with projects like RailsInstaller, but native modules and dependencies almost always cause problems. Even more, when you go to deploy your Rails app you're likely using a Linux host so you may run into differences between operating systems.

Fast forward to today and Windows 10 has the Ubuntu-based "Linux Subsystem for Windows" (WSL) and the native bash shell which means you can run real Linux elf binaries on Windows natively without a Virtual Machine...so you should do your Windows-based Rails development in Bash on Windows.

Ruby on Rails development is great on Windows 10 because you've Windows 10 handling the "windows" UI part and bash and Ubuntu handling the shell.

After I set it up I want to git deploy my app to Azure, easily.

Developing on Ruby on Rails on Windows 10 using WSL

Rails and Ruby folks can apt-get update and apt-get install ruby, they can install rbenv or rvm as they like. These days rbenv is preferred.

Once you have Ubuntu on Windows 10 installed you can quickly install "rbenv" like this within Bash. Here I'm getting 2.3.0.

~$ git clone https://github.com/rbenv/rbenv.git ~/.rbenv
~$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ echo 'eval "$(rbenv init -)"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ exec $SHELL
~$ git clone https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build.git ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
~$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ exec $SHELL
~$ rbenv install 2.3.0
~$ rbenv global 2.3.0
~$ ruby -v
~$ gem install bundler
~$ rbenv reshash

Here's a screenshot mid-process on my SurfaceBook. This build/install step takes a while and hits the disk a lot, FYI.

Installing rbenv on Windows under Ubuntu

At this point I've got Ruby, now I need Rails, as well as NodeJs for the Rails Asset Pipeline. You can change the versions as appropriate.

@ curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_4.x | sudo -E bash -
$ sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
$ gem install rails -v 5.0.1

You will likely also want either PostgresSQL or MySQL or Mongo, or you can use a Cloud DB like Azure DocumentDB.

When you're developing on both Windows and Linux at the same time, you'll likely want to keep your code in one place or the other, not both. I use the automatic mount point that WSL creates at /mnt/c so for this sample I'm at /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/RailsonAzure which maps to a folder on my Windows desktop. You can be anywhere, just be aware of your CR/LF settings and stay in one world.

I did a "rails new ." and got it running locally. Here you can se Visual Studio Code with Ruby Extensions and my project open next to Bash on Windows.

image

After I've got a Rails app running and I'm able to develop cleanly, jumping between Visual Studio Code on Windows and the Bash prompt within Ubuntu, I want to deploy the app to the web.

Since this is a simple "Hello World" default rails app I can't deploy it somewhere where the Rails Environment is Production. There's no Route in routes.rb (the Yay! You're on Rails message is development-time only) and there's no SECRET_KEY_BASE environment variable set which is used to verify signed cookies. I'll need to add those two things. I'll change routes.rb quickly to just use the default Welcome page for this demo, like this:

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  # For details on the DSL available within this file, see http://guides.rubyonrails.org/routing.html
    get '/' => "rails/welcome#index"
end

And I'll add the SECRET_KEY_BASE in as an App Setting/ENV var in the Azure portal when I make my backend, below.

Deploying Ruby on Rails App to Azure App Service on Linux

From the New menu in the Azure portal, choose to Web App on Linux (in preview as of the time I wrote this) from the Web + Mobile option. This will make an App Service Plan that has an App within it. There are a bunch of application stacks you can use here including node.js, PHP, .NET Core, and Ruby.

NOTE: A few glossary and definition points. Azure App Service is the Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service). You run Web Apps on Azure App Service. An Azure App Service Plan is the underlying Virtual Machine (sall, medium, large, etc.) that hosts n number of App Services/Web Sites. I have 20 App Services/Web Sites running under a App Service Plan with a Small VM. By default this is Windows by can run Php, Python, Node, .NET, etc. In this blog post I'm using an App Service Plan that runs Linux and hosts Docker containers. My Rails app will live inside that App Service and you can find the Dockerfiles and other info here https://github.com/Azure-App-Service/ruby or use your own Docker image.

Here you can see my Azure App Service that I'll now deploy to using Git. I could also FTP.

Ruby on Rails on Azure

I went into Deployment OPtions and setup a local (to Azure) git repro. Now I can see that under Overview.

image

On my local bash I add azure as a remote. This can be set up however your workflow is setup. In this case, Git is FTP for code.

$ git add remote azure https://scott@rubyonazureappservice.scm.azurewebsites.net:443/RubyOnAzureAppService.git
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "initial"
$ git push azure master

This starts the deployment as the code is pushed to Azure.

Azure deploying the Rails app

IMPORTANT: I will also add "RAILS_ENV= production" and a SECRET_KEY_BASE=to my Azure Application Settings. You can make a new secret with "rake secret."

If I'm having trouble I can turn on Application Logging, Web Server Logging, and Detailed Error Messages under Diagnostic Logs then FTP into the App Service and look at the logs.

FTPing into Azure to look at logs

This is all in Preview so you'll likely run into issues. They are updating the underlying systems very often. Some gotchas I hit:

  • Deploying/redeploying requires an explicit site restart, today. I hear that'll be fixed soon.
  • I had to dig log files out via FTP. They are going to expose logs in the portal.
  • I used the Kudu "sidecar" site at mysite.scm.azurewebsite.net to get shell access to the Kudu container, but I'd like to be able to ssh into or get to access to the actual running container from the Azure Portal one day.

That said, if you'd like more internal details on how this works, you can watch a session from Connect() last year with developer Nazim Lala. Thanks to James Christianson for his debugging help!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Writing and debugging Linux C++ applications from Visual Studio using the "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

April 3, '17 Comments [17] Posted in Linux | Open Source | Win10
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I've blogged about the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" (also known as "Bash on Ubuntu on Windows") many times before. Response to this Windows feature has been a little funny because folks try to:

  • Minimize it - "Oh, it's just Cygwin." (It's actually not, it's the actual Ubuntu elf binaries running on a layer that abstracts the Linux kernel.)
  • Design it - "So it's a docker container? A VM?" (Again, it's a whole subsystem. It does WAY more than you'd think, and it's FASTer than a VM.)

Here's a simple explanation from Andrew Pardoe:

1. The developer/user uses a bash shell.
2. The bash shell runs on an install of Ubuntu
3. The Ubuntu install runs on a Windows subsystem. This subsystem is designed to support Linux.

It's pretty cool. WSL has, frankly, kept me running Windows because I can run cmd, powershell, OR bash (or zsh or Fish). You can run vim, emacs, tmux, and run Javascript/node.js, Ruby, Python, C/C++, C# & F#, Rust, Go, and more. You can also now run sshd, MySQL, Apache, lighttpd as long as you know that when you close your last console the background services will shut down. Bash on Windows is for developers, not background server apps. And of course, you apt-get your way to glory.

Bash on Windows runs Ubuntu user-mode binaries provided by Canonical. This means the command-line utilities are the same as those that run within a native Ubuntu environment.

I wanted to write a Linux Console app in C++ using Visual Studio in Windows. Why? Why not? I like VS.

Setting up Visual Studio 2017 to compile and debug C++ apps on Linux

Then, from the bash shell make sure you have build-essential, gdb's server, and openssh's server:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install -y build-essential
$ sudo apt install -y gdbserver
$ sudo apt install -y openssh-server

Then open up /etc/ssh/sshd_config with vi (or nano) like

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

and for simplicity's sake, set PasswordAuthentication to yes. Remember that it's not as big a security issue as you'd think as the SSHD daemon closes when your last console does, and because WSL's subsystem has to play well with Windows, it's privy to the Windows Firewall and all its existing rules, plus we're talking localhost also.

Now generate SSH keys and manually start the service:

$ sudo ssh-keygen -A
$ sudo service ssh start

Create a Linux app in Visual Studio (or open a Makefile app):

File | New Project | Cross Platform | Linux

Make sure you know your target (x64, x86, ARM):

Remote GDB Debugger options

In Visual Studio's Cross Platform Connection Manager you can control your SSH connections (and set up ones with private keys, if you like.)

Tools | Options | Cross Platfrom | Connection Manager

Boom. I'm writing C++ for Linux in Visual Studio on Windows...running, compiling and debugging on the local Linux Subsystem

I'm writing C++ in Visual Studio on Windows talking to the local Linux Subsystem

BTW, for those of you, like me, who love your Raspberry Pi tiny Linux computers...this is a great way to write C++ for those little devices as well. There's even a Blink example in File | New Project to start.

Also, for those of you who are very advanced, stop using Mingw-w64 and do cool stuff like compiling gcc 6.3 from source under WSL and having VS use that! I didn't realize that Visual Studio's C++ support lets you choose between a number of C++ compilers including both GCC and Clang.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.