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Ubuntu for Windows

Less than two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that, in Windows10’s one-year anniversary update, coming up in a few months, you’ll find something new and unusual,…

Less than two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that, in Windows10’s one-year anniversary update, coming up in a few months, you’ll find something new and unusual, at least by Microsoft standard: the support of an operating system (OS) that Microsoft did not build. That OS is called Ubuntu.
An OS is metaphorically the engine that drives a computer.  It’s like the go-between you and the computer, with respect to the things that you want the computer to do for you. Thus, Ubuntu is conceptually similar to Windows itself, but of course with different underlying codes and interface. “Interface” here refers to the environment where you enter your commands when you want the computer to do things for you. For example, Windows provide you with the interface needed to create files inside the computer, open files inside the computer, view the contents of files, print files, close files that you have previously opened, find files or folders located inside your computer, or even locate specific character strings inside your computer.
The default interface in Windows is graphical, hence the designation “graphical user interface,” or GUI, by way of an abbreviation. You interact with this interface via the use of a mouse. That is, you can use the mouse to initiate the actions you want the computer to carry out for you – like double clicking on the icon for Microsoft Word, for the purpose of opening the program and creating a new Word document or viewing/modifying an existing one. The alternative to graphical interface is the command line interface, where you type commands (with a keyboard) on a line in a command-line window presented to you by your computer. The Microsoft operating system was not always based on a GUI, but, like all OS’s in their primitive forms, it was based on command-line input. If you have been around long enough, you will remember the Microsoft DOS Prompt, via which you entered commands to ask the computer to do stuff for you.
Ubuntu, developed by Canonical Ltd, a UK-based company, is owned by Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur. Ubuntu is one of the clones of the Linux OS, which itself was derived from the UNIX OS. Of course, UNIX, developed by the American company AT&T, plus its derivatives, is easily remembered as the most widely-used OS in history. So popular was UNIX, that virtually every major company of yesteryears developed its own proprietary version. For example, IBM had AIX, DEC had ULTRIX, Sun had Solaris, and Silicon Graphics had Iris, and so on. Incidentally, the various UNIX clones were different and never talked to each other; which meant big headache. So, eventually they all essentially died, giving way to Linux, an open-source version of UNIX. There are now clones of Linux, including Ubuntu, all of which are also open source. (Note that the Apple Mac and iOS OS’s are also UNIX derivatives.) Ubuntu was initially released in October 2004; the most recent version was released in October 2015. Ubuntu provides Linux server, desktop, phone, tablet and TV operating systems.
Etymologically speaking, Ubuntu is a (Zulu) South African word, which roughly translates into human kindness, in reference to the kind ways in which black African people historically treat human beings – be they local or strangers. Ubuntu is an appropriate name for something you work hard to obtain, but then give it away to others for free; which is precisely the way that the open source programs work.
Why do we need Ubuntu in Windows, after all Ubuntu is already pre-installed in many PC desktops and laptops, such as those from Dell, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, ASUS? Unlike Linux, which is available in most computer systems – desktops and main frames alike, Ubuntu is not as prevalent. In fact, IBM has only recently announced its plan to support the OS in its world-most-powerful main frame. However, Ubuntu has been winning awards since 2007.
Why can Microsoft embed Ubuntu in Windows? Because Ubuntu, like Linux and other Linux clones, is open source, so any entity, including Microsoft, can have it. Microsoft plans to support Ubuntu fully – that is, in native form, not via some virtual procedures. Third-party tools have been developed in the past to enable Ubuntu support in Windows. However; a direct partnership between Microsoft and Canonical will offer more flexibility and convenience for developers. Another pertinent question is why anyone should care about Ubuntu in Windows. Having Ubuntu in Windows is a boon for developers who will now have the tools for cross-platform program development. UNIX-based OS’s are considered to be more powerful and significantly more secure than Windows, and there are diehards, who probably will not pay for a Windows system. Data stored in binary – zeroes and ones, are usually not compatible across platforms. Now, Windows and Ubuntu programs will hopefully be able to share static libraries and direct link libraries (DLLs) in binary formats.

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