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06.26.20

Adapting to Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 10:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Response to “Adapting To Circumstances” from Planet Ubuntu (hours ago)

PuTTY
Handing the keys over the Microsoft, even literally

Summary: Doing ‘Linux’ the way Microsoft wants you to do it is merely strengthening the Microsoft monopoly; even Planet Ubuntu is currently promoting this inane approach

IT’S not often that we do line-by-line rebuttals anymore, but this one merits a rebuttal. It’s a symptom of concessionary thinking, which is basically accepting Microsoft’s supremacy over GNU/Linux and Free software in the name of “compromise” or “convenience”. It’s why we end up with everything in a Microsoft monopoly called GitHub and lots of OEMs paying Microsoft for “Linux” because of software patents (which are likely bunk anyway).

“It’s a symptom of concessionary thinking, which is basically accepting Microsoft’s supremacy over GNU/Linux and Free software in the name of “compromise” or “convenience”.”Below we quote the original, with a response following every statement, hopefully putting things in context:

I have written prior that I wound up getting a new laptop.

OK, lots available or around these days with GNU/Linux pre-installed. More so over time.

Due to the terms of getting the laptop I ended up paying not just for a license for Windows 10 Professional but also for Microsoft Office.

So what? Proprietary software is worse than worthless. What’s the actual value of Office? It’s mere rental of a piece of malware. Money down the drain.

As you might imagine I am not about to burn that much money at the moment.

You already have. You paid for Windows and for an Office licence.

With the advent of the Windows Subsystem for Linux I am trying to work through using it to handle my Linux needs at the moment.

WSL is Windows, not Linux. WSL doesn’t even have Linux in it. It’s a misnomer. As for WSL2, only about 150,000 people use it worldwide. It’s a failure.

Besides, I did not realize OpenSSH was available as an optional feature for Windows 10 as well.

May I introduce you to PuTTY? It has been around for… how long? Two decades? PuTTY was not controlled by Microsoft, so Microsoft had to ‘reinvent’ it… to keep people like you in the gated community [sic] (prison) of Windows.

That makes handling the herd of Raspberry Pi boards a bit easier. Having the WSL2 window open doing one thing and a PowerShell window open running OpenSSH makes life simple. PowerShell running OpenSSH is a bit easier to use compared to PuTTY so far.

So now you’re running Microsoft’s patented and non-standard shell. Hurray to freedom! Just don’t write any programs/scripts in it. That’s Microsoft lock-in right there.

Did you supply private keys? Oh, wait till you find out Microsoft hoovers all the data from Windows and works closely with the NSA and others… so you might as well assume your keys are already compromised.

The Ubuntu Wiki mentions that you can run graphical applications using Windows Subsystem for Linux. The directions appear to work for most people. On my laptop, though, they most certainly did not work.

So Ubuntu wastes space and time promoting Microsoft’s monopoly and an attack on GNU/Linux. The fact that the documentation did not work for you means that Microsoft is getting its way. It’s already painful enough, giving GNU/Linux a bad name.

“Hey, why bother with this Linux thing? Might as well stay with Windows…”

After review the directions were based on discussion in a bug on Github where somebody came up with a clever regex.

Oh, GitHub. Lovely! So now we’re turning to Microsoft for ‘Linux’ bug reporting.

The problem is that kludge only works if your machine acts as its own nameserver. When I followed the instructions as written my WSL2 installation of 20.04 dutifully tried to open an X11 session on the machine where I said the display was.

At this stage you could have instead asked yourself, “why did I not just wipe Windows and why bother with this whole “kludge” (your word)?”

Unfortunately that regex took a look at what it found on my machine and said that the display happened to be on my ISP’s nameserver. X11 is a network protocol where you can run a program on one computer and have it paint the screen on another computer though that’s not really a contemporary usage. Thin clients like actual physical X Terminals from a company like Wyse would fit that paradigm, though.

Wow, talk about reinventing the wheel. Microsoft taking back technology two decades. I literally did that in 2001. A lot. Without issues. Even Cygwin could handle that very reliably at the time.

After a wee bit of frustration where I was initially not seeing the problem I had found it there. Considering how strangely my ISP has been acting lately I most certainly do not want to try to run my own nameserver locally. Weirdness by my ISP is a matter for separate discussion, alas.

I inserted the following into my .bashrc to get the X server working:

export DISPLAY=$(landscape-sysinfo –sysinfo-plugins=Network | grep IPv4 | perl -pe ‘s/ IPv4 address for wifi0: //’):0

Considering that my laptop normally connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi I used the same landscape tool that the message of the day updater uses to grab what my IP happens to be. Getting my IPv4 address is sufficient for now. With usage of grep and a Perl one-liner I get my address in a usable form to point my X server the right way.

Congrats on reinventing X forwarding?

Elegant? Not really. Does it get the job done? Yes. I recognize that it will need adjusting but I will cross that bridge when I approach it.

Since the original bug thread on Github is a bit buried the best thing I can do is to share this and to mention the page being on the wiki at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/WSL. WSL2 will be growing and evolving. I suspect this minor matter of graphical applications will be part of that evolution.

So basically, here you are dealing with issues long solved (like two decades ago). And all this? Just so that you can run Windows while pretending to use GNU/Linux. And it has a keylogger, too. According to the latest press reports, Microsoft also ‘steals’ data from Firefox users on Windows. So good luck; assume Microsoft does the same to your ‘Linux’ setup.

So well done, Canonical. There are now 150,001 WSL2 users. And your documentation sucks. Maybe restart the focus on bug #1 and try replacing Windows instead of ‘improving’ it, driving more Ubuntu members (like the above) back to Windows.

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