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An Enigma in a Linux wrapped inside a Windows.

. This is an opinion article .

Going through the Cisco training for CCNA I came across something that hit my funny bone. It is simultaneously horrible and exemplary at the same time. This is the brand new training from of February of this year I think.

In one section talking up automation and SDN technologies, some drawbacks of ‘the old fashioned ways’ are mentioned. One of the points they make to illustrate the inefficiencies of our old ways is the fact that notepad is the most common text editor among network sourcerors.

This really is funny. I actually chuckled. Which is what prompted me to write this. The text files that Notepad is editing in this context are what keeps the planet’s global networks running in very real terms! It’s not hyperbole to say that.

Now consider the period in which Notepad was produced. It comes to us from 1983 and was originally shipped as a software bundle-in when you bought Microsoft’s newly developed user interface. The $195 Microsoft Mouse!

That is amazing to me, but now lets unpack the Microsoft angle a bit. We use an ancient Microsoft-created tool, on a klunky Microsoft-created operating system, to minister to appliances that run Linux. That Microsoft once said was a cancer.

Number 1: It seems nearly every appliance we touch these days runs Linux. From android phones to microwaves to sports cars, and from the backbone of the internet to the fastest super-computers to the international space-station. It’s used so much because it is really good at running computer hardware to do useful things. That’s a ridiculous thing to have to say but there it is. It’s not marketing, actually it is in spite of a lack of marketing.

Number 2: Linux is an operating system that we can run on our laptops and desktops, appliances, and in the cloud. We use to do our jobs and our play. It provides a fast, versatile, and stable experience, and it plays games faster/better on the same hardware as Windows, and security is designed-in as opposed to Windows resembling a failing dam every patch Tuesday because of the avalanche of patches attempting to manage all the holes in the Windows OS dike.

Number 3: We don’t use Linux on the desktop. Just as among the general population, Windows is the predominant platform used even by techs, along with an application from digital pre-history as the most common tool for fast scripting and such. Did you know that Notepad has been dropped by Microsoft several times over the last few years during ‘updates’? Inadvertently of course.

Personally I suggest geeks grab a spin of GNU/Linux and dump Windows. But now with WSL2 providing a reasonable supplemental Linux experience on Windows that is less likely. I seriously don’t know how Microsoft is holding onto the desktop like it is. Think about it, they know they are no-longer relevant long-term and maybe not even middle-term.

One bit of evidence is that they’ve resorted to installing Linux inside of Windows for us! Think about that for a moment! From “Linux is a cancer” in the not-too-distance past, to “please don’t uninstall our operating system to get that other OS and start really getting things done. Please allow us to install that ‘better’ operating system for you here”.

All to stay relevant for another year or so. Hoping to keep the day when Windows is simply jettisoned for good, from coming for a little while longer. I honestly am not a hater of Microsoft these day, I really think that they’ve seen the light.

They fell all over themselves to get WSL2 out on all current installations of Windows right! The magick of Linux comes from it’s kernel, so they needed to add one to the original WSL libraries they made to make Linux work as a 1st class citizen. So now WSL2 allows an almost full version of Linux to run on top of Windows. A kernel from the 4.19 series was imported to run on the 64bit X86 as well as ARM64 versions of Windows.

Windows is troublesome to have. They admit it. And they cannot fix it, because of how enormous and kludge-ridden the code has had to become over the years. Every few years it gets a face-lift so it continues to look nice. But like that old used-car in the back left hand of the used car lot that’s been there too-long, it’s shiny, but is also creaky and not holding up real well all over.

Windows still does have some legacy-software value if nothing else though. And if Microsoft can make using Linux via a built-in installer inside of Windows easier than a nuke-and-pave of Windows that removes it in order to get Linux, then they might keep their position as the primary OS for us for a while longer.

I personally think it’s too late, and they cannot make the kinds of changes they’d need to if they wanted to change their model because they have to continue to make crazy profits. They might buy Ubuntu still though, or make some kind of formal kinship with Canonical at the very least. And that would give them some bite, but would not make them much money. So that’s a no-go.

I am writing this to get these thoughts out and into the bigger world. I want to be able to point to this To see how close I am to calling out the actual ‘year of linux’, so to speak. And the direction from which it might arrive.

#linux, #linuxdesktop #opensource, #network, #cloud

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