[Wolves] something to talk about (reading Linux files from Windows)

Adam Sweet adamsweet at gmail.com
Thu Apr 9 10:43:45 UTC 2020

On 08/04/2020 20:27, David Goodwin via Wolves wrote:
> https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/8/21213783/microsoft-windows-10-linux-file-explorer-integration-features
> If I'm reading that right, people will now be able to view their Linux
> files when booted into Windows ....

15 years ago pigs would fly before I believed this, perhaps even 5
years. This is great news, though it has caveats.

I think this, along with the Windows Subsystem for Linux are smart moves
from Microsoft and great for the people that need them. The old chant
was "developers, developers, developers" and that's still valid.
Developers means apps means users. While Microsoft became further
entrenched in their old ways under Ballmer, the goalposts moved.

The generation that couldn't afford Visual Studio while at university
and used Linux at home (e.g. me) went out into the IT world and started
using Linux tools to develop and automate as everything became
cloud/devops which leaves Windows Server losing market share and facing
a brain drain amongst the highly skilled, highly motivated and
innovative. Things like containers, git, ansible and Kubernetes leave
Windows in the cold.

To accommodate this new workflow Windows only environments have to
include some Linux boxes to allow their devs to access the tools they
use, or heaven forbid, allow their devs to use Linux desktops (corporate
IT policy nightmare). Large businesses would need support contracts on
those Linux boxes, so they're either buying Red Hat or getting Ubuntu
support contracts.

Working over SSH from Windows is a grind. I like PuTTY and WinSCP but
when you're working through Windows jump servers (perhaps 2 or 3 layers
to reach where you need to get to) it's a real pain. WSL made sense to
bring the tools people are using back to the Windows desktop without
having to shell out to something else. Essentially WSL is a platform
pull. Reduce the need for separate Linux dev boxes, or worse Linux desktops.

I guess this Linux filesystem driver for WSL distros reduces the pain
point of dealing with files inside of WSL from Windows. I expect we'll
see a few more of these pain points being eased over time.

As I said, this is great for the people that need it and maybe not so
good for Linux adoption. WSL allows people to use Linux/devops tools
without having to develop a separate IT security or maintenance policy,
hire Linux admin staff or deal with centralised authentication for
Linux. Putting those tools on the Windows desktop though means fewer
Linux boxes in the long term. Momentum breeds momentum.

I'm talking in broad brushstrokes here rather than being literal or
exact. I'd be interested in other people's take on it.


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