One of the biggest surprises at Microsoft’s Build developer conference last year was that the company was building support for the Bash shell on top of an Ubuntu-based Linux subsystem right into Windows 10. This feature launched widely with the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary update and over the course of the last few months, it built upon this project with frequent updates, but it remained Ubuntu-based. As the company announced today, though, it’s now also adding support for OpenSuSE and Fedora, too.
Once a developer has turned on “developer mode” in the Windows 10 settings menu and turned on support for Linux, developers will be able to go into the Windows Store and install support for any of the three supported Linux systems with just a click. This installation procedure, it’s worth noting, is also new and significantly easier than the earlier procedure. It’s also worth mentioning that you can run all three Linux flavors side-by-side.
As Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s VP of its Windows Developer Platform, told me, the company didn’t really receive a lot of requests for supporting any of Bash’s competing shells but it did receive plenty of requests to support other distributions. Given Microsoft’s mantra of “meeting developers where they are,” the company then decided to work with these other vendors to support their distributions as well.
While it still feels somewhat bizarre to see three different Bash shells that all run on top of different Linux flavors running in parallel on a Windows desktop, this is probably as good an example as any of how Microsoft’s relationship with its developers and the open source ecosystem has changed over the last few years.