Full stack web developer, interested in all the things, but especially the web, code, design, Linux, OS X, PHP, WordPress, JavaScript & robots.

Tagged: windows

Ubuntu on Windows – The Ubuntu Userspace for Windows Developers image/svg+xml

I’m in San Francisco this week, attending Microsoft’s Build developer conference, as a sponsored guest of Microsoft. That’s perhaps a bit odd for me, as I hadn’t used Windows in nearly 16 years. But that changed a few months ago, as I embarked on a super secret (and totally mind boggling!) project between Microsoft and Canonical, as unveiled today in a demo during Kevin Gallo’s opening keynote of the Build conference….

An Ubuntu user space and bash shell, running natively in a Windows 10 cmd.exe console!

More information about yesterday’s Microsoft/Ubuntu partnership announcement. The details of how it works are better than I had imagined. To be honest, it all sounds too good to be true and I’m really looking forward to trying this.

Microsoft and Canonical partner to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10 image/svg+xml

According to sources at Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company, and Microsoft, you’ll soon be able to run Ubuntu on Windows 10.

Blimey. If this is true, it’s fabulous news. I can’t wait to read more details about the partnership.

Update: Here’s how Microsoft will support Bash on Windows 10

Based off developer feedback we’ve done a couple things: First we made investments that improve cmd, PowerShell, and many other command-line tools and developer scenarios. Second we decided to grow our command line family by adding real, native Bash and with it support for Linux command-line tools which run directly on Windows in an environment that behaves like Linux.

Wow. Again, fabulous news.

Crapware Continues to Ruin the Windows Experience image/svg+xml

Windows 10 faces an existential threat. And no, it’s not the iPad Pro, at least not yet. Instead, this threat comes from within. And though Microsoft understands the threat, it still refuses to do the one thing that will solve the problem.

I am referring, of course, to crapware.

Buying a Windows PC can be a terrible experience. The last Windows laptop I purchased was for our daughter, it was a Christmas present and I remember spending much of that Christmas morning removing all the crapware that came with it. It was a terrible customer experience. Microsoft really should get this sorted.

Internet Archive Does Windows: Hundreds of Windows 3.1 Programs Join the Collection image/svg+xml

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 running in a web browser.

We’ve now added over 1,000 programs that run, in your browser, in a Windows 3.1 environment. This includes many games, lots of utilities and business software, and what would best be called “Apps” of the 1990s – programs that did something simple, like provide a calculator or a looping animation, that could be done by an individual or small company to great success.

I can barely remember Windows 3.1, it seems like such a long time ago. Anyway, I think this is just brilliant, not Windows 3.1, but the fact that you can run it in a browser. Kudos to the Internet Archive, they are doing excellent work.

New Year’s Resolutions 2015 – The Results

It’s nearly the end, the end of the year that was 2015. Unfortunately, this blog was not around last year, so I didn’t publicly record my New Year’s resolutions for 2015. However, anyone that knows me will no doubt know what those resolutions were. Actually, there was really only one resolution and that was to embrace proprietary software on the desktop.

I think I can imagine how that might sound to the uninitiated (easy right?), but for me, it was a big deal. Having spent the last 10+ years as a Linux only guy, switching to non-free operating systems was daunting, scary, unknown and at times, a real ball-ache.

For the first seven months of the year I opted to use Microsoft Windows. Windows 7 & 8 to be precise. Windows 7 at work and Windows 8 at home. Coming from Debian, the move to Windows was truly a baptism of fire. At first, I felt as if I had lost all or some of my senses. Software and tools which I took for granted in Debian were suddenly not available and I knew I would have to quickly change the ways I did things. I found this to be somewhat strange as I was used to bending the operating system to fit around me, instead, I found myself bending to accommodate Windows. After a while, I guess I just gave up fighting and changed my mindset.

During those seven months, I came to love and hate Windows. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about things like driver support (to be fair, Linux driver support is generally pretty ace) and tasks such as setting up home networks and file sharing was scarily easy; so easy that it left me feeling worried about how secure my network was. I also loved Steam, in fact I loved Steam a little bit too much and I wasted many hours playing games, which made me feel really guilty (damn, I’m getting old).

Now for the Windows hate. I’ll try and keep this brief as I’m not a natural hater. Firstly, the lack of a decent terminal and Shell. Seriously, how does anyone get any proper work done on Windows? Yes, I know all about PowerShell, but for some reason, I just could not bring myself to learn/use it. Maybe that is my loss, but if my time on Windows taught me one thing, it is that I am Bash guy. Secondly, Window’s Explorer. Without doubt, Windows Explorer is the worst file manager I have had the misfortune to use. For anyone that is not aware, in the Linux world there are a plethora of file managers and in my opinion, nearly all of them are more pleasurable to use than Windows Explorer. Shortcuts, Favourites, Libraries, WTF? Just show me the files and their real paths! Finally, the font rendering. It is simply horrendous.

So, that was a quick summary of my experience with Windows. For the most part, I got things done (apart from when I was killing Space Marines), but I never felt truly comfortable using it.

Towards the end of July, I made the switch to OS X. OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” to be precise. Interestingly, or not, I had never used OS X before (not for longer than a few minutes) and I instantly felt a lot more comfortable. It was almost like the feeling of coming home after taking a really long holiday (in a shit resort with terrible weather). I had a decent terminal and Shell again. I could just stop here, but there are so many things to love about OS X that it would be remiss of me not to mention some of them.

So, firstly, it has a usable terminal and Shell (I know, I’m repeating myself, but hey, I can use Bash!) Secondly, the file manager, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot more usable than Windows Explorer. It shows me my files and their true paths. It’s also very similar to Nautilus in GNOME (or Nautilus is similar to Finder), so I am super-comfortable using it. Thirdly, the font rendering is superb. Fourthly, there is a large collection of quality software available. No, it’s not all free software, but to fair and IMHO, the quality is far superior to a lot of free software (this probably warrants a separate post in the future). Finally, and somewhat shallowly, it looks beautiful! Now, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is very subjective, but I think OS X is the prettiest OS I have ever used. And despite the naysayers, I think there is probably something to be said for surrounding yourself in pretty things, I think it certainly helps to encourage inspiration and aspiration.

Anyway, that was a summary of my 2015 New Year’s resolutions. I think I’m going to chalk it up as a success. And if you are asking if I will switch back to Linux on the desktop in 2016? No. I’m more than happy to continue using and loving Linux on my servers, but I’ve no plans to move away from OS X on the desktop.

Next up, 2016.

Acrosync – Native Windows Implementation of Rsync image/svg+xml

Acrosync for Windows can sync entire folders with any Linux/Mac/NAS without installing server software. That is because it is the only native Windows implementation of rsync, a powerful folder sync tool that is ubiquitously installed by default in the non-Windows world.

Worth a look for when you are stuck on a Windows machine and you wished you had rsync available. It’s not free, but it does come with a 15-day trial.

Penetration Testing With Sec-1

I spent today at a free penetration testing seminar. The event was held in Leeds and hosted by Sec-1. Before the event, I was a bit skeptical about the quality of the content that would be delivered, but I’m happy to say that I was concerned for no reason. The event and main presentation was awesome.

Sec-1's penetration testing presentation.

Sec-1’s penetration testing presentation.

I think I was mainly concerned that the presentation would be a dumbed-down explanation/definition of penetration testing. It was not. Instead, the presenter actually blasted through a whole range of pentesting techniques and demoed how to exploit weaknesses in common web applications, as well as Windows domain networks.

The presenter was obviously well practiced in his trade and he didn’t seem to hold back at all. He also showed an enormous amount of pride in his work and the speed at which he pwned systems was actually quite scary. I certainly wouldn’t want to piss him off.

I was delighted to see that Kali Linux featured heavily throughout the presentation, go Linux! Also, WordPress was mentioned on numerous occasions, but not in a good way. That said, the mentions were mainly related to WordPress plugins and not the core product, although I may need to take a look at how password resets are handled.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and it was well worth attending. If you ever get the chance to attend one of Sec-1’s seminars, they hold them regularly, I would highly recommend it!

Switching from Linux to Windows

UPDATE: I’ve since switched to OS X.

My New Year’s resolution was to attempt to switch to a closed source OS on the desktop. No joke. I’m nearly 6 months into this experiment and it is going surprisingly well. I say surprisingly, because I have been a staunch Linux user for the past 10+ years and I haven’t touched Windows or OS X in all that time.

As you can probably imagine, or not, making the switch has not been overly easy, especially in the beginning. Forgetting about the obvious changes to the software, my immediate concerns were more philosophical. As anyone who has been involved with the free software scene will tell you, free software is not about money or cost, but about four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Now, let me tell you, it is very difficult to willingly let that go. So, why have I?

The primary reason was a very selfish one, I wanted to know if I had been missing out on anything. I mean, 10+ years is a very long time in the computing world, at least long enough for Microsoft to have released 3 (or 4, if you count 8 and 8.1 as differing beasts, and discount the various other Windows variants, such as Server) different versions of Windows, and I really wanted to know what, if anything, I was missing out on. In short, I believe I may have been suffering from a severe case of FoMO.

And had I been missing out? Well, yes, I believe I had. Both Windows 7 (switched to from Debian at work) and Windows 8.1 (switched to from Debian at home) are both excellent operating systems. Sure, I get a few butterflies in my stomach if I think too hard about the four freedoms when I’m using them, but it’s becoming easier and easier to push those thoughts to the back of my mind. When things “just work”, it definitely helps to make it easy to forget about the things you are trying not to think about.

As I mentioned, it really wasn’t easy to make the switch, especially in the beginning. There were times when I longed for my familiar Linux desktop, but after ~6 months, and a considerable amount of bending to the OS, I’m now in a position where I can use Windows and it doesn’t get in my way. In fact, I’m well on my way to becoming a proficient Windows power user — I’ve swapped Bash scripts for Batch files and I’m learning new tricks all the time. And for the most part, I’m loving it.

It’s funny how things change. Twelve months ago, I would have thought twice about even booting a Windows machine, and now look at me, I’m in danger of becoming a Microsoft fanboy. It doesn’t really compute, but there you have it.

P.S. I should state, in case it is not obvious, I still use Linux every single day. Whilst I’m happy with Windows on my desktops, I would not consider switching from Linux on my servers. I’m not crazy (although my mother never had me tested.)

P.P.S A message to my Linux friends: I still love you, so please do not shout at me, at least not too loudly. If you have any questions, please just ask :)