Things got a little freaky last week when Microsoft and Canonical showed us Bash running natively on Windows 10. It turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Though most reports focused on Bash itself, what Microsoft and Canonical actually delivered was a complete Linux userland. It can handle more than Bash, and it turns out that it can actually handle a whole lot more than just apps that run in a terminal window.
Intrepid experimenters running the latest Windows 10 preview build that have been playing with this new functionality have actually gotten GUI-based Linux apps to run under Windows. Yes, really… which makes this sound like one of the craziest things Microsoft has ever done. It could be right up there with putting $150 million into Apple to keep them afloat in the late 90s.
The GUI version of Vim, Nautilus, gedit, Firefox (the Linux version, that is) have all been reported to run. Amazingly, someone even managed to get XFCE running. Most apps don’t work flawlessly, but that’s to be expected. This is an early version that Microsoft is letting people test, and all the experimenting that users are doing right now will help them iron out the kinks.
There’s also a good possibility that this isn’t the type of use Microsoft planned to support when they enlisted Canonical’s help. That doesn’t mean they won’t work, just that you may have to hack things together on your own to make it happen.