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Microsoft Adds Kali and Debian Linux Distros to the Windows Store

Microsoft added a couple of Linux operating system distros to the Windows Store this week, and described some of its ongoing open source work.

Newly arrived in the Windows Store are Kali Linux and Debian GNU/Linux, according to Microsoft announcements this week. Both Linux distros use the Windows Subsystem for Linux capability that's built into Windows 10 clients, which permits Linux operating systems to run on top of Windows. In addition to Kali and Debian, the Windows Store has an option for installing Ubuntu Linux, which Microsoft added last year. Microsoft previously has suggested that it was working to bring Fedora and SUSE Linux distros to the store, as well.

Getting the Linux distros takes a few steps. Users first install the optional Windows Subsystem for Linux component on Windows 10. Next, they reboot the system. Lastly, they download and install the Linux distro from the Windows Store. It's possible to run multiple Linux distros side by side simultaneously on Windows 10, according to a past Microsoft description.

Kali Linux is maintained by Offensive Security, a provider of security penetration testing training, and a maintainer of the Exploit Database repository of known software exploits. When run on Windows 10, Kali Linux has "a few drawbacks to running it natively (such as the lack of raw socket support)," Offensive Security explained in a blog post, although it opens up "exciting possibilities," as well.

Helm 3.0
In other open source software news, Microsoft reported progress on work toward Helm 3.0 at last month's first Helm Summit, held in Portland, Ore. Helm is a package manager that runs on a client device for installing and upgrading applications on open source Kubernetes-managed clusters. Helm was built by Deis, a startup company Microsoft acquired after announcing those plans last year.

The Helm Summit event produced requirements for the future development of Helm 3.0 and its Tiller solution that runs on a server. There were also requirements made for improved measurement, indexing and backward compatibility of "Charts," which are Helm packages.

ClearlyDefined Project
Microsoft also this week described its activity with the ClearlyDefined project of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), an organization that promotes open source software development. The ClearlyDefined project aims to help open source software development by clarifying "absences or ambiguities around licensing or known security vulnerabilities" in open source software code, according an OSI announcement. It's a crowd-sourcing approach in which the team members contribute the "licensing and vulnerability data."

Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office is a contributor to the ClearlyDefined project, describing the project's effort as "only just starting." Also an early contributor is the Eclipse Foundation, which is adding its data collected about Java code. Other contributors include Qualcomm, HERE Technologies, Amazon, nexB and Software Heritage, according to OSI's announcement.

Chrome and Windows Clang Support
Also of note this week is an announcement by the LLVM Project that the Google Chrome browser, as of version 64, is now compiled using the Clang open source C++ compiler on Windows. The LLVM Project oversees "reusable compiler and toolchain technologies" for both commercial and open source projects, according to its overview description.

The Google Chrome browser has used Clang for Linux and macOS for a while, but it had been using the C++ compiler on Windows until version 64. Google engineers worked with the LLVM Project on improving Clang support on Windows, starting back in 2013. Microsoft later joined the effort in "mid-2015," according to the LLVM Project's account.

The LLVM Project noted that the Opera browser used on Windows is compiled with Clang, "starting in version 51." Mozilla is currently looking at using the clang-cl interface for Clang for use with the Firefox browser on Windows, as well, according to the announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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