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Ubuntu Is Coming to Windows 10. No, Really.

rantDon’t rub your eyes: you’re not misreading.

Microsoft and Canonical are, according to a reliable rumour out of ZDNet, working together to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10 desktops.

In what is surely an early contender for Linux scoop of the year, the venerable  Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols says we’ll all “soon be able to run Ubuntu on Windows 10.”

Of course it’s not actually the frankenstein horror that the statement leads you to think of, as SJVN himself notes once the bait of his headline has been digested.

‘This is being aimed at developers, not home users’

But Microsoft and Canonical are going a little further than you might think; Ubuntu won’t be bolted on as a glorified virtual machine, either:

Microsoft and Canonical will not …be integrating Linux per se into Windows. Instead, Ubuntu will primarily run on a foundation of native Windows libraries.

It’s already possible to use some familiar Linux command line tools in Windows, including bash, through projects like Cygwin. It’s this that we’ll see furthered:

It also seems unlikely that Ubuntu will be bringing its Unity interface with it. Instead the focus will be on Bash and other CLI tools, such as make, gawk and grep. Canonical and Microsoft are doing this because Ubuntu on Windows’ target audience is developers, not desktop users.

Given that this work is set to be unveiled at a developer conference full of, y’know, developers, it makes sense that its impact will be of a, err, developer bent.

Mom and Pop users who already to cope with the rejigged Start Menu in Windows are unlikely to be affected.

It’s official. See this post by Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland for more details.

More details on the integration (and the possibilities it provides developers with) are to be announced at the Microsoft ‘Build’ developer conference, which is being held March 30 – April 1, 2016 in San Francisco, CA.

The opening keynote of Build 2016 kicks off in around 5 hours from now. It’s being streamed live online for your viewing pleasure, too.

I Don’t Know How to Process This Information

First things first: breathe through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t assume that this partnership is a portent of impending apocalypse.

It’s not.

Canonical and Microsoft have been working together closely for several years on cloud and server. Microsoft is also embracing Linux as a development platform. It released its Visual Studio Code application on Linux last year and recently acquired Xamarin, a company founded by the creators of Mono.

Lower your worn-handled pitchfork, and stop scrawling ‘Embrace, Extend, Extinguish’ on some old cardboard: this is unlikely to be the beginning of the end (based on what we know so far).

Fact is we know little officially about what’s planned. It could be that a few simple UNIX command line tools are made available in Microsoft’s command prompt tool — or it could open the flood gates to (some) Linux binaries running natively on Windows.

We’ll very shortly find out.