Many were likely confused by this week’s announcement that Microsoft would integrate the Ubuntu Linux Bash shell into Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update. But it’s not that earth-shattering: The result will be another command line environment tailored for developers and administrators.
Actually, let’s hone that line a bit. This new command line environment will be tailored for developers and administrators who work in mixed environments and regularly need open source tools. In other words, the introduction of the Ubuntu Linux Bash shell to Windows 10 will impact average users as much—OK, as little—as does the availability of Windows PowerShell today.
Looked at yet another way, Microsoft isn’t making all of Ubuntu Linux available “inside” (or on top) of Windows 10. Ubuntu can’t replace the Windows 10 GUI, and you cannot run Linux desktop applications. Instead, this is just about a single command line environment, the Bash shell, and the command line applications that can run within it—the vi text editor, for example—plus a few basic but necessary cross-environment capabilities, like copy and paste, and file system access.
Here’s what it looks like.
Exciting, right? Well, maybe not to you. But to those who do want or need to access Linux/UNIX command line applications—sed, awk, grep, and so on—and tools such as Ruby, Git, and Python, this is a big deal. You can also use Bash file system tools to work on files: Copy, move, rename and so on.
(You cannot run Windows tools like Notepad from Bash.)
As Microsoft notes, Bash on Windows 10 is currently a beta and, as such, you can expect rough edges, broken functionality, and missing features. But that’s what the Windows Insider program is for: Using feedback, Microsoft and Canonical—which makes Ubuntu Linux and is responsible for bringing this feature to Windows 10—will improve Bash over the coming months.
Also, as Terry Myerson told me yesterday, Bash for Windows 10 is very much a client-side feature aimed at the desktop, and not the server. It’s not going to be included in Windows Server.
“We live in interesting times” doesn’t even begin to describe this one, folks. But the simple truth is that the addition of Bash won’t impact most users. And this is most certainly not the year of desktop Linux, sorry. 🙂 Not even Windows 10 can make that happen.