Ubuntu on Windows

Windows 10 Anniversary Update came out last week. I haven’t heard very many folks talking about  one of the most interesting features I’ve seen from the New Microsoft: Linux.

I think part of the reason people aren’t excited is because they don’t understand what this is:

  • It’s not a virtual machine
  • It’s not a container like Docker
  • It’s not Cygwin – you can run pre-compiled ELF binaries

This is basically WINE in reverse – it translates Linux system calls to Windows system calls at runtime. That means it can run pretty much anything that Linux can. To take it for a test drive, I installed nvm and node, then Calypso and then ran make run. It worked! (I had to sudo apt-get install gcc g++ make first, but that’s just more proof that this is Ubuntu)

I love developing on Unix-like systems, and OS X macOS has been a great balance of a Unix system with good consumer support.  However I’m concerned that so much of Apple is focused on iDevices that they will start to care less and less about computer. As of August 23, it’s been 462 days since they have updated the MacBook Pro, and they’ve discontinued the Thunderbolt display.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is open-sourcing things left and right. And now actually running Linux on Windows, something that 10 years ago would have sounded ridiculous. It’s not perfect – the terminal window still sucks compared to iTerm or even Terminal.app – but now you can use a real OpenSSH instead of PuTTY. Maybe soon I can live the dream of the same machine for development and gaming.

The funny thing is that IBM tried this with Windows 20 years ago. IBM had OS/2, which had a Windows compatibility layer so that OS/2 could run Windows 3.1 apps. This backfired for IBM – as a dev if I have to choose between writing an app for OS/2 or Windows, why not write for Windows since it will run on both? A comment on Hacker News claims that the Linux subsystem was originally developed for Windows phones to run Android apps. Maybe Microsoft chose not to go down that path for fear of the same fate as OS/2 Warp?

I strongly recommend anyone who likes Linux command lines to give it a try to see what works and what doesn’t (I had to manually install the update first). There are a lot of shortcomings but if it’s supported this could lead to more devs switching back to Windows.

inkling Markets 1 Week Later

The inkling markets I started last week have been making progress. While I can’t speak authoritatively about why the participants are investing the way they are, I can always make some wild-assed-guesses.

In the OpenID market, the biggest gainers are Wikipedia and Yahoo!. Wikipedia announced that they’re working on OpenID, which sounds like it’s a lock. But you’ll notice that talk was given at the end of April 2006, and since they haven’t done it yet, it’s possible that they won’t make the August 26th deadline of the market.

Another big winner is Yahoo!. They have been pretty aggressive about opening things up lately, they are offering lots of APIs to web developers and I think the feeling is that OpenID is right up their alley. Note that idproxy.net doesn’t count as a “win” for Yahoo! since the market is looking at these web sites consuming OpenID.

One stock that surprised me was that MSN.com has the lowest stock price of the bunch. I realize that Microsoft has cultivated the exact opposite appearance as Yahoo! in that people believe that Microsoft refuses to interoperate with anyone else, which is probably driving the stock price down. It’s still surprising to me because Microsoft has announced that they will be supporting OpenID. I wonder if the stock price is so low because of the perception of Microsoft as closed or if people believe that Microsoft will be pushing OpenID as an enterprisey technology but not something for consumers.

The Jabber market has some things that surprised me as well. While Yahoo! is doing well and MSN is not–which I attribute to the same things as their performance in OpenID–Skype is currently the highest price stock. That’s surprising to me because Skype has not been very open. Of the 5 IM networks in the market, only Skype doesn’t work with Adium. In August 2005 Skype announced SkypeNet API which sounds like it might allow Jabber interoperability, but apparently it’s been abandoned. I wonder if the SkypeNet API is driving up the stock price or if it’s just wishful thinking.

My final observation is that AIM and ICQ (both of which are owned by AOL and interoperable) haven’t moved very much at all. This is notable because AOL and Google Talk (which runs on Jabber) announced interoperability in December 2005 but nothing has come from it yet. Since Google Talk runs on Jabber the path of least resistance for interoperability would be for AOL to support it as well, even if they only federate with Google at the start.

Open Questions for the Piracy Czar

The US has created a position in our Department of Commerce called the Coordinator for International Intellectual
Property Enforcement
. In short, a Piracy Czar. From what I’ve read the person will be in charge of a war on piracy.

On The Long Tail blog, Wired editor Chris Anderson writes I was chatting with a former Microsoft manager the other day and he revealed that after much analysis Microsoft had realized that some piracy is not only inevitable, but could actually be economically optimal. Read the whole post for the explanation.

On the Piracy Czar’s press release this figure is touted: U.S. companies alone lose an estimated $250 billion per year [to copyright infringement], costing 750,000 American jobs. That’s a lot of money and jobs, but does that count the money the was made from copyright infringement by companies like Microsoft? Is anyone even keeping track of how much money companies earn from copyright infringement?

In the show On The Media host Brooke Gladstone discusses mixtapes with writer Oliver Wang. Oliver says

Most mixtapes are still technically illegal ones because they’re not using materials that have been cleared and have been paid for. But it’s an understanding between the label that if we give you this and you help promote our song, the labels are willing to look the other way.

The same recording industry that is at war with its customers is encouraging piracy as a promotional tool.

Will the Piracy Czar try to stop mixtapes, when the record labels that own the songs actually encourage their copying? How can the RIAA indicate which songs are OK to copy onto mixtapes and which songs are forbidden to copy? (hint)

The BBC is changing its business model after it received a ‘wake-up call’ about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet.

The constitutional purpose of copyright is to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. Progress in the BBC’s delivery system is coming about because of copyright infringement, not in spite of it. When progress and copyright are in conflict, which side will the Piracy Czar be on?

The creation of a Piracy Czar post heralds a US “war on piracy.” Will it be an blind war against any copyright infringement, or will the harms and benefits to society be carefully weighed?