Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

Bundows

At Build 2016, Microsoft announced, among other things, that developers will soon be able to run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. If you are interested in this kind of stuff, then I know that you probably already know about this. I was stoked when I heard about this news about two weeks ago but I just did not have the time to blog about it, but now I finally do.

So what does this all mean?

It means that you will be able to run actual Bash on Ubuntu, … on Windows. I know it sounds like I’m just repeating myself here, but the news is that exciting and it almost sounds like it is not real. Many people in the past would have said that hell will freeze if and when something like this happens, and yet here we are.

This is not a Virtual Machine running Ubuntu! This is actual Ubuntu user-mode running on Windows. To accomplish this Microsoft created a Windows Subsystem for Linux. Microsoft has partnered with Canonical, the creators of Ubuntu Linux to make this all possible.

But what does this Really mean?

This is a sign of a ‘personality shift’ in Microsoft. This shows the openness that Microsoft has adopted. They know that to keep Windows relevant now and in the years to come, they need to make developers want to develop FOR Windows and develop ON Windows even if they might not be developing for Windows. We’ve seen this as a reoccurring theme from .NET going open source in 2014, Android app portability, and their recent acquisition of Xamarin.

But this news of Bash on Ubuntu on Windows by Microsoft, going as far as building a brand new Subsystem for Linux is HUGE! It took a while for this to really sink in for many people that I talked with – not that the technology was difficult to understand, but the fact that it was actually happening. It is a big deal – Linux and Windows coming together, open source and Microsoft coming together, Canonical and Microsoft coming together.

Actual Ubuntu user-mode means you will be able to run command-line tools like apt-get, sed, awk, grep, and you can even try Linux-first tools like Ruby, Git, Python, etc. directly on Windows.

This also means that web developers will find it easier to develop on Windows. Having the ability to run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows will make it easier for Start-ups to choose Windows development machines, since most start-ups are initially short on cash and often choose open source software including Linux operating systems, eliminating the need to have separate Linux development machines.

What do I think of this?

If you have not already figured this one out, let me tell you, I’m going nuts over this news. I moved from Mac OS to Windows about 6 months ago, mostly because I believe that Microsoft is really going in the right direction and paving the way to the future with their HoloLens technology, Windows 10 Universal apps, touch screen capabilities for the Windows Operating system and much more. The one thing that I had always missed was the ability to run Linux commands and Bash scripts. Mac OSX is built on Unix so this was never an issue, but it was not possible to do that on Windows. An option was to learn Windows command line, which in all honesty sucks!

I have used Cygwin until now, and for the most part it does the job, but it still was not Linux. From time to time I run into problems with it, installing libraries and programs is okay – it works except when it doesn’t. But now with Bash on Ubuntu on Windows, I’ll have access to Ubuntu’s apt-get – this is amazing!

What is the Future of Bash on Ubuntu on Windows?

For now, Bash on Ubuntu on Windows is still in its beta stage. You will not be able to install it unless you are on “Windows Insider”. I personally will stick to Cygwin for now, until the stable version gets released because currently my main Windows machine is my only Windows machine.

In the future Bash on Ubuntu on Windows is sure to be a better option than Cygwin. Sure Cygwin has been time-tested but the Bundows (there you go, I just coined a new word) has the advantage of the backing from Microsoft and Canonical and it will be using the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Should you use Bundows?

Yes, and No – it depends on who you are. I would not recommend installing it on your main Windows machine, or if you are not willing to work with something that might not work sometimes – as I said, this is still in beta stage. Do NOT use it on production machines.

If you are a student, then yes, do it now. You should be trying to be on the cutting edge of things, trying betas and alphas, making stuff, breaking stuff, getting stuck and learning from it. In my teens and early twenties, I did a lot of tinkering with different operating systems and programs and that is what taught me so much of what I know.

How to install Bundows?

First you need to be on Windows Insider. You can start here https://insider.windows.com/
Your next step is to turn on or install Bundows: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2016/04/06/bash-on-ubuntu-on-windows-download-now-3/

A Simple Home Media Center Setup

Before I begin I would like to state a disclaimer. I’m not suggesting going out and buying all the things that I have mentioned below. This is more of a very basic guide of different components that you can use if you are thinking of centralizing your media and have some old hardware lying around or you plan to make some purchases in the near future.

Media Server

If you have an old PC that you are not using because it is too slow or just doesn’t function the way it used to, you can reformat the hard drive and install Xubuntu.

logo-lightbg-largeXubuntu is an officially recognized flavour of the popular Ubuntu operating system. Since it is a Linux based operating system it is very secure.  It is very easy to use compared to some of the other Linux distributions and can run very smoothly even on old hardware. I’m using a 9 year old PC that has seen better days. 

So we have the Operating System that our server is going to use, as for the actual media server software we are going to be using Plex. Plex is awesome because it is very simple to install, has a very clean user interface, keeps track of where you stopped watching a movie on multiple devices, it provides movie trailers and extras, and a whole lot more. You will need to get the premium service if you want to watch your movies on Xbox or Playstation. At little under $5 a month, it is a worthwhile investment.

Xbox

Xbox-one-logo-2

If you missed it, here are some reasons to pick Xbox as your gaming console. You can control your Xbox with the Xbox One SmartGlass app (Android, IOS, Windows, Windows Phone). You can also download apps on your Xbox which will make it easier to consume media: Youtube, Netflix, TED etc… Then you can pair the Youtube app on your  phone/laptop/tablet with your Xbox One, you can cast all the above apps and others from your phone/table to your Xbox. Leave a comment below if you need a detailed step by step guide and I’ll write up another post for you.

Set-top Box[optional]

If you want you can add a set-top box like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV to the mix, but that really just makes it redundant.I chose not to add any of these because Xbox One meets all my requirements.

If you really need to have cable TV you can add that to the mix too. Bell Fibe TV is pretty amazing. It has a very clean and fluid user interface and I have grown accustomed to the “Restart” feature which lets you restart a program if you tune in late. The only thing that bugs me is that you cannot fast forward a program that you have “restarted”. Bell Fibe TV has a very useful mobile app which you can use to control the box.

Sound Bar

513I1ZA2L7L._SL1200_Sound bars are great because they are mostly compact and a lot of them can act as a style statement. Of course they won’t sound as great as a full fledged home theatre system with a receiver and surround sound speakers but with recent improvements in technology sound bars have come a long way. I personally wanted something that was compact, had a decent sound output, fitted well under my TV, blended well with all my other devices and took in multiple HDMI inputs. The Sony HT-CT370 2.1 Channel 300W Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer, Bluetooth, and NFC is just the sound bar that I was looking for. I plug my Bell FIbe TV set-top box, Xbox One and sometimes my laptop to it. It has 3 HDMI inputs, something which is not too common in sound bars. I don’t have to go to the back of the cabinet to fiddle with wires. And everything gets neatly tucked behind the sound bar. Another thing that I later came to appreciate about the sound bar is its NFC capability. A lot of the times I simply place my Android phone on top of the sound bar and connection is established automatically.

Apps

These are some of the must have apps to make your home entertainment experience even better:

  • Xbox Smart Glass remote
  • Fibe Remote for Bell Fibe TV subscribers
  • Rogers Anyplace TV – for Rogers subscribers
  • Samsung Link – for Samsung devices
  • SongPal from Sony
  • SoundCloud
  • Crackle
  • Youtube
  • Netflix

Songza

Songza-logo-and-monster_660x660Songza deserves a spot of its own because this app is simply amazing. You can listen to this on your phone, on the web, cast it on your chrome device or simply stream it to your bluetooth speakers which is something that I usually do. Songza is a free music streaming and recommendation service for Internet users in the United States and Canada. Stating that its playlists are made by music experts, the service recommends various playlists based on time of day and mood or activity.(Source: Wikipedia) It’s best feature is concierge mode. Just chilling with friends at home on a Friday night, relaxing at home on a Saturday afternoon, need to recover from last night – no problem just make those selections on the concierge mode and let Songza provide a playlist and do its thing.

Extras

Wireless Keyboard 

If you decide to hookup your PC or if you have an Xbox without Kinect  a wireless keyboard certainly comes in handy. The Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard with TouchPad is the best wireless keyboard under $50.

TV Cabinet

It’s important to choose a cabinet which hides all the wires and is functions. Ikea usually has pretty sleek looking, compact and functional cabinets.

20150427_221216Take for example the cabinet above. It contains the following devices:

  • Xbox One with two controllers
  • Bell Fibe TV set-top box
  • Nintendo Wii
  • A wireless keyboard
  • TV
  • Sound bar
  • Subwoofer
  • DVD player
  • Bluray player

It is a simple design, there are a lot of wires behind the cabinet but they’re all very neatly tucked away. Of course you don’t have to go out there and buy a new cabinet, but if you’re in the market for a new one, these are some of the things that you might want to think about. There are also many ways you can organize your wires to keep look neat.

That’s my take on a simple home media center setup. If you have suggestions please leave a comment below.

 

 

Ubuntu 11.10 makes Ubuntu a serious competitor in the mainstream desktop market

The mainstream desktop operating system market has been long dominated by Microsofts’ Windows. Second to Windows is Apple’s Mac OSX. Although Linux has been around much longer than most people would know, its inability to capture even the slight market share in the desktop market had been known for a long time.

For those who don’t know what Linux is, Linux is a free open source operating system. There are two parts to it(yes I am grossly simplifying this). The first part is the Linux core operating system called the kernel, and then there are different flavors or distribution of linux. Individuals and companies can take the core operating system, modify it or add more on top of the existing core. There are literally over a hundred different flavours of linux!

 

Linux desktop was always for hardcore computer geeks and programers and it was NOT pretty.

Enters Ubuntu!

The main Linux desktop players according me were Ubuntu, Fedora and Suse. What Ubuntu has done to Linux desktop is amazing giving it the wow factor! We’re not just talking about which free open source operating system is better, we’re talking about competing with proprietary  software like Windows and MacOS.

 

Let’s start of with this stunning Login in screen! Nay, not a login screen, … a welcome screen!

 

Office Suite

Ubuntu comes preinstalled with LibreOffice which has all that you need and perhaps a little more too – its FREE! I have used MS Office, then moved to OpenOffice, which is also a great office suite and one which you can installed on Ubuntu too, and now I use LibreOffice. Libre office opens every possible document type you can think of even MS office 2007 and 2010 files. You can even save in .docx which is what MS Word 2007 uses.  And you can export it into PDF format!

The Ubuntu Dash

Here is a side by side Simple and Advanced view for you. Things are really easy to find with their smart categorizing and if you cant find what you’re looking for, just type it in the search bar! If you want to play some games,…type games,. if you’re looking for Office apps, well type that! Looking for music…you know the rest.

It even shows you what is installed and what you can install from Ubuntu Software Center! That is amazing!

When has my MacOS spotlight search showed be available games when I type “games”? :(..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ubuntu Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre is your one stop shop experience. This is just like App store on your Iphone and is a response to the App store on  a mac. Does Windows have something like this? Not that I know of, but then I haven’t used Windows in the past 2 years or so.

In Ubuntu Software Centre, you can browse by different categories, you can check your history of what program was installed/remove at what date, and you can see a quick snapshot of all the programs installed on your Ubuntu.

Social Networking

Your Ubuntu system comes pre-configured to get you started with Facebook, Google Talk, twitter etc..And you can manage all of your networks from one place. Take that Windows,… take that Mac Os and take that Google Chro…umm… never mind…

Amazing Search

Ubuntu search is brilliant. You search by name, and then you can narrow your search down by size of the file, type of file; whether it is an image, document, audio, video or presentation and by when it was last modified. It is also very quick to give you your search results!

Mac’s Expose clone

So ya, sure they have copied macs expose feature. For those who don’t know what this is, when you click twice on an application icon on the dash you see all your application windows. See below. This is an awesome feature for folks like me who have multiple windows running in the background.

Multiple Desktops

Ubuntu has had this since its inception, and no need to explain. See below.

Ubuntu One

This is Ubuntu’s cloud service. You can store and sync your files and music on multiple computers so that you’re always up to date and its FREE!(you get 5GB of storage; upgrade is available). Ubuntu One Music Streaming offers music-streaming apps for iPhone and Android phones. The “Music Streaming” package costs $3.99 a month or $39.99 per year. It just keeps getting better!