Running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on Windows 10 desktop

Intrigued to discover that the Windows Store has an Ubuntu app and decided to try it out and see how functional it is. Very, it turns out. Took a while to get started as I had to set up the PC for Insider Preview Fast Ring to get the required Windows build level. Once that was done, it was all pretty straightforward.

The app is a command line Ubuntu version. I tried installing ubuntu-desktop but that didn’t really work. However, lots of other things did work including network servers (that need to listen on ports for connections) and things like that. The Windows 10 desktop’s drives are visible at /mnt/x where x is the Windows drive letter. The app runs .bashrc and .profile scripts at startup so it is easy to get things to run automatically. As you can see from the screen capture, it has access to all of the CPU resources unlike a virtual machine where you can partition the cores (and RAM for that matter) – I was able to get all 12 cores running compilations simultaneously. However, in most cases the apparent inability to control the number of cores used by the Ubuntu app is probably unimportant (I didn’t find any way of changing settings).

The Ubuntu app appears on the same host adaptor as the Windows desktop so they share an IP address and port space. I was unable to ssh into the app for example. However, I was able to run webservers on non-standard ports and that worked just fine.

There is no /dev directory and therefore no way to access USB devices such as webcams. USB flash drives do not appear either – only the internal drives are visible to the Ubuntu app as far as I can tell.

All in all there are some caveats but it is essentially a very useful app for situations where it is important to be able to run Linux programs on a Windows machine without the overhead of running a virtual machine.


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