Windows Subsystem for Linux

With a new laptop and a ton of horsepower, I’ve been trying to figure out just how best to set up this new machine.  I’m pretty agnostic with what kind of platform I run.  I have been working on Windows, Linux and OS X regularly, so choice is pretty ‘meh’.  I have a personal preference for Linux, but as Microsoft has recently been doing a lot of good work in trying to win over developer mindshare, I’d like to keep at least one toe in the Redmond pool.

My new machine is a Dell XPS 15 9560, and it’s probably a beast for what I’m doing with it.  I know it could run Linux admirably, but there are a number of things that I just want to try out that require Windows:

  • Docker Windows Containers * .NET platform (Mono is an option, but why handicap yourself before you know what you’re doing?)
    • In particular, F# is a great looking language, and I’d like to get a better feel for it
  • Windows Application Development

While I am probably always going to have a fondness for the CLI and terminal, I can’t pretend that the rest of the world even likes using these things, so I’m more than happy to learn a platform that lets me develop a tool that everyone can use, even if it doesn’t fill my Linux lifeblood.

Configuring Windows Subsystem for Linux

That said, the work that Microsoft has been putting in to the Windows Subsystem for Linux is incredibly impressive, so I think I can probably have my cake and eat it, too. In fact, I’ve been doing just that, and setting up WSL was probably one of the best additions to Windows. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps I had to follow to make the setup a bit seamless for the work I’m doing.

Bash on Windows Repo stubs

1. Update packages

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt autoremove

2. Apt packages

# install packages that are common to our group and/or useful
apt-get install -y \
        maven \
        python \
        python3 \
        curl \
        wget \
        stow \
        vim-gtk \
        subversion \

3. NodeJS

curl -sL | sudo -E bash -

4. Ansible

# configure ansible
apt-get install -y software-properties-common python-software-properties
add-apt-repository ppa:ansible/ansible
apt-get update
apt-get install -y --force-yes ansible


This is really just a small “tip of the iceberg” of what I am doing with this.  I actually have a set of Ansible playbooks written to do a lot more than this.  The playbooks do a lot around:

  • setup
  • Work-related HTTP/s proxy configuration
  • Golang install and configuration of base packages/tools
  • NodeJS configuration
  • Vim rollout (I have a completely separate repository for this)

Unfortunately, I’m not yet comfortable with sharing it at this time. If I find the time, I will work on getting this out there, as I think WSL is a great tool, and coupling it with Ansible is nothing short of powerful.