Playing nicely with Windows

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Windows is a very important platform, and our justifiable pride in Linux and the GNU stack shouldn’t blind us to the importance of delivering software that is widely useful. I believe in bringing free software to people in a way that is exciting and empowering to them, and one of the key ways to do that is to show them amazing free software running on their familiar platform, whether that’s Windows or the MacOS.

Firefox, for example, is an inspiring free software success story, and I’m certain that a key driver of that success is their excellent support for the Windows environment. It’s a quick download and an easy install that Just Works, after which people can actually FEEL that free software delivers an innovative and powerful browsing experience that is plainly better than the proprietary alternatives. I’ve noticed that many of the best free software projects have a good Windows story. MySQL and PostgreSQL both do. Bazaar works well too. And users love it – users that may then be willing to take a step closer to living in the GNU world entirely.

So, I was absolutely delighted with the way Agostino Russo and Evan Dandrea steered the Windows-native installer for Ubuntu into 8.04 LTS. What I think is really classy about it is the way it uses the Windows Boot Manager sensibly to offer you the Ubuntu option. If I was a Windows user who was intrigued but nervous about Linux, this would be a really great way to get a taste of it, at low risk. Being able to install and uninstall a Linux OS as if it were a Windows app is a brilliant innovation. Kudos to Agostino and Evan, and of course also to the guys who pioneered this sort of thinking (it’s been done in a number of different ways). It looks crisp, clean and very professional:

Ubuntu being installed through Windows

I’m a little daunted at something as new as WUBI being the very first experience that people have of Linux, free software and Ubuntu, but initial reports are positive.  I did have a question from the media that started with “it didn’t work for me but…” which makes me a wee bit nervous.

So – yesterday I suggested folks hammer on the Heron for servers, today, here’s a call for folks who have a Windows machine and would like to see WUBI in action to test it out and let the developers know if there are any last-minute gotchas. Happy hunting!

85 Responses to “Playing nicely with Windows”

  1. SolidOffice » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth on Wubi and Open Source on Windows and Mac Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth blogs about Wubi, a new tool for easily installing Ubuntu on a Windows machine. […]

  2. Limulus Says:

    I previously wrote: “at a store which sells Vista computers; we tried Wubi from the Hardy Beta and it had no problems installing to Toshiba notebook, but there were issues with the daily build from April 10 on a desktop system that was an Acer iiRC. Will repeat soon with a newer build to see if its still an issue.”

    Tested today on the same Acer computer with the April 11 build and it worked flawlessly 🙂

  3. Daniel Says:

    we hope to have printer and scanner and … other fully supported by the manufacturers.

  4. gp Says:

    Hi ,
    We are a small dev company we use ubuntu everywhere (basically kubutu on desktops and ubuntu server on servers ) , only problem i face is getting my microphone working Intel HDA chipset which is there in all our systems and laptop, which prevents my team to collaborate (i know there there is a lengthy solution …download compile a new latest alsa servers etc etc …but simply dont have time for that for last two months ) ….it would be great some of team could look into this as intel da chipset is most common ….there is also problem of web cam but we dont use that much !!

  5. Alexander Trauzzi Says:

    Mark, for so long I have hoped for someone with the resources and comprehensive understandings you have to come into play.

    You and your team couldn’t have hit the nail any more squarely on the head with this installer. The next thing would be to make a utility that fully unpacks the user’s comfortable installation into a full-on GRUB-booted installation. Even offering to resize partitions or – dare I say – replace Windows!
    I have so many ideas and hopes for Ubuntu I practically lose them all at once. The best I can do is continue to help people discover what is no doubt the best, fastest and easily most reliable OS humanity has seen yet. I’m continuously surprised with the kind of traction Ubuntu gets with people considering my past experiences with showcasing Linux.

    The passion and amazement I’m getting out of even the most change averse Windows users is immeasurable by comparison! Ubuntu is literally capable of giving a wakeup call to the most casual of users overnight!

  6. Says:

    Mark Shuttleworth : Bien joué Windows…

    Ah mais non puisqu’en lisant la suite, on apprend que Ubuntu 8.04 qui sortira bientôt s’installera aussi à partir de Windows. Ouf! L’honneur est sauf ! C’était juste une manœuvre 😎

    Le billet qui en parle sur son blog

  7. Justin Clift Says:

    Arrgh. Spell checker. “PostgreSQL”. ;->

  8. James Dowden Says:

    On an utter nitpicking level, there’s something seriously wrong with that tooltip: the inconsistency between stating the difference for Kubuntu and Kubuntu-KDE4, and the implication of the difference for Ubuntu and Xubuntu is really quite funny. There’s scope for all sorts of bad jokes about people who know about KDE version numbers, but are confused by knowing that something’s GNOME or XFCE.

  9. Stef Says:

    It was all a brilliant idea, and it worked too— up to the part when i could boot into Ubuntu and never managed to complete the installation (but you can still cancel it to ignore the setups), then… IT WAS SO SLOW!! No more than 2 applications can run at the same time, and never except once i could shut down the system without manually pressing the on/off button on my laptop. That one time when i managed to shut down properly was when I turned the thing on, load up and shut down without using any applications… great init?!

    NB I have tried installing twice as well, once on my external (250GB free out of 490GB) and the next time on my own laptop hard drive (70GB free out of 100GB)… and the speed of ubuntu was just unacceptably SLOW…

    very disappointed 🙁

    Mark Shuttleworth says:

    Try defragmenting the Windows drive. Your Linux filesystem is mapped into a large file on the NTFS formatted harddrive. If the NTFS partition is fragmented, then reading and writing from the Linux “filesystem” is slowed down. Other than that, performance should be within 5-10% of native partition performance.

  10. Ltmboy Says:

    Wubi is a really great idea. I had always wanted to try out Ubuntu but I was a bit afraid of partitioning and so on. But when I found wubi, I was able to use Ubuntu without any risk. After about a month or so, I realized that I hadn’t used Windows for a quite a while and ended up just going completely Ubuntu. Without wubi, I would probably still be using Windows today. So I’m very happy to see that it will be included with Hardy Heron. Keep up the amazing work.

  11. Flisol 2008 - Sede Huancayo » Wubi - Instalador de Ubuntu desde Windows Says:

    […] Podemos leer la opinion de Mark Shuttleworth, presidente de Canonical, empresa que promociona el desarrollo de Ubuntu: Espanol / Ingles […]

  12. Bob Macpherson Says:

    While this is probably not the correct forum for this comment it seems to be the only place where one can contact Mr Shuttleworth pretty well directly. I’ve tried all the ubuntu forums and other lunux forums to no avail.
    My comment is that I’d love to go completely over to ubuntu but cannot. The reason is that I own a multifunction printer (printer, copyer, fax and scanner in one) and there are no ubuntu or linux drivers available for it.
    As an old age pensioner I cannot afford to continually buy hardware to simply suit a particular operating system. For all that is wrong about the Windows O/S’, they at least appear to be able to supply drivers for multifunction devices.

    I have approached the manufacturer (Canon) who responded with the comment that they were not going to build drivers for linux. The manufacturers are little interested in the individual by I would hope that they might take at least some notice of the linux distributers.

    Perhaps it would be possible for the likes of Mr Shuttleworth to approach the manufacturers with this in mind and incidentally help grow their business by having people buy their products when compatible with the linux O/S’.



  13. Chris Penn Says:

    Mark, I disagree………but let me explain.
    The importance of windows is completely relevant to the user. I do have “linux pride” as some might describe, but I do not hate Microsoft Windows. To put things simply I use this quote:

    “I simply don’t use Microsoft products, not because I hate them, but because they aren’t interesting to me. ” -Linus Torvald 2007

    My spin:
    Windows has no importance in my life. Not because I hate M$, but because I have no need for windows.

  14. Mark Shuttleworth explica el porqué de Wubi en Ubuntu « marrufo9 Says:

    […] Shuttleworth explica el porqué de Wubi en Ubuntu Mark Shuttleworth, presidente de Canonical, explicaba ayer en su blog porqué habían decidido incluir el instalador Wubi en Ubuntu. Para los que no lo sepan Wubi […]

  15. Wubi se incluirá en Ubuntu | micropolyphony Says:

    […] Shuttelworth ha explicado en su blog por qué se incluirá Wubi en la próxima versión de Ubuntu que saldrá dentro de 9 días. Y ahora […]

  16. Andrew Cole Says:

    I loaded up my Hardy Beta CD and ran WUBI and it worked like a dream. No difficulties whatsoever. The only thing is, I thought it sounded like you could install on an empty partition on the hard drive, not that you HAVE to install it on a virtual drive on a Windows partition.

    Works great though. I actually kind of like this better.

  17. Jose_X Says:

    >> My spin:
    Windows has no importance in my life. Not because I hate M$, but because I have no need for windows.

    I have no need for Windows and, in many ways, have little respect for Microsoft on account of their past actions (I have a lot of respect in some ways though). Additionally, their position as the **closed source Monopolist** is what I truly am against. [ ]

    If the software you are used to running runs on Windows only, then you need Windows. However, you don’t really need Windows.

    More to the point. Exclusive apps and features allow a platform to become irreplaceable to an extent. This is why developers that like the freedom of Linux and users that like freedom should ask companies that currently write applications only for Windows to consider doing at least quick and dirty ports to Linux or at least consider helping out the wine project. If you ask, then you are helping to create recognized demand. The customer is the boss.

    Even more to the point. Linux useful special/unique features are what would give life to Linux within the context of Windows. [ ]

  18. Evangelina Says:

    (please cancel previous post, this is the corrected)

    How about Playing very nicely with Microsoft?

    1. I appreciate your efforts for making free software even more available and accessible. That is a great cause with unmeasurable (but surely great) amount of efficiency added to humanity with exponential benefit in all areas.

    2. I have great respect for Microsoft too, since all software is compared with theirs, they have become the peoples’ standard. For a long time – by choice! Because they were the pioneers, hats off for that! Trying to protect and hold on to what they have built is only (less idealistic from what they started) but human.

    3. I have heard you give great philanthropic (humanity-loving speeches) which I think you believe in.

    4. I have heard Bill Gates give great philanthropic (humanity-loving speeches) speeches, which I am sure he believes in.

    5. Let me enlighten you: Why don’t you work together, to what is truly a great end, humanity-BENEFITING software more widely available than is Ubuntu now. True, he is not the CEO of Microsoft now, but I have a feeling he still might have something to do with it. If you have a plan how to make Microsoft employees self-sufficient and RE-ORIENTATE their focus, I actually think he might listen! There comes a point in a man’s life when he has done enough for one’s ego and all left for him to do is for others. If you both have reached that point, I really do not see WHY NOT!


  19. Evangelina Says:

    The newest release of Windows and Ubuntu (consistent with Bill Gate’s and Mark Shuttleworth’s beliefs and speeches) celebrating the 21st century:


    “Do you have it yet?”

  20. Evangelina Says:

    PS: And don’t be self-absorbed, Bill Gates has not hinted nor Mark self-posted. I am a real, independent, Ubuntu and Microsoft phil and hope neither of you thinks out of my mind.

  21. Mark Hayes Says:

    Wubi was pretty easy to use, I had very few problems getting everything up and running. In my work environment Windows is the primary O/S, but with Wubi I was able to dual boot my work computer and use Open Source software to carry out my daily tasks. Now there’s no reason why people can’t try out Ubuntu and really see how awesome it is.

  22. vaago Says:

    Yea it sounds good but I’ve tried installing it twice, once on an old Precision workstation with hyperthreading – I had to do a complete reinstall because it crashed it beyond my understanding; and really didn’t have the time nor the inclination to try and figure it out.
    The second time, on a Dell 3000, it looked as if it was going to work but every time that I tried to boot into Ubuntu, I would get an error message telling me to run chkdsk and all would be well. I finally removed said program. I haven’t had any problems on either machine with live cd’s or actual installs.

  23. Evangelina Says:

    I saw this article today

    Many people still seem unaware of the option Ubuntu. So Mark maybe you have to do a little more promotion.

  24. Mirloc Says:

    The sad truth is that until games are developed (and not ported) to Linux as a whole there’s always going to be a strong presence of Windows. You can argue that games don’t drive the industry, but you are kidding yourself if you do. Gamers demand faster, better, bigger and tend to spend the money to get it. Corporations spend as little on hardware as they can reasonably get away with. By comparison look at Dell’s website. Gaming machines are 3 or 4 times the price of a comparable corporate work machine.

    There’s the big sell, get the game companies to write for Linux, the gamers will switch and the market will follow.

  25. Faire bon ménage avec Windows Says:

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  26. Moulinneuf Says:

    It’s Free software at work … IPO time

    Part 2 :

    You know it’s funny in a way that Red Hat is saying that personal desktop is made by a charity company.

    Because last I looked Canonical was a commercial entity. The problem is that it’s a private entity.

    Microsoft laughed at Google until they made there IPO. Red Hat itself was considred a joke until they did there’s and is using it’s IPO money to offset it’s bad decision and carve itself a big share of the pie with bigger investments then other’s , with almost 4 billion market capitalization , they can afford to wait on the desktop.

    The problem with that is that they have an unfair advantage on all front , They can wait for the desktop and swoop in or acquire the smaller company who end up winning the desktop and they win against others on the server as they can trow a lot more money then other’s at it.

    Since I showed you in my last post that the majority of people are not yet on personnal computers yet and that the market is only going to grow and double every year ( using the AMD chart ). That means that Microsoft Windows income is going to grow too and they will invest billions at holding on to the market with the OEM vendor and IHV’s.

    The logical conclusion is to make an IPO. But not make a failed one like Mandriva did , but one with a
    solid strategy like google did.

    The first move would be to research GOOGLE IPO partner and get some of them in on the early deal.
    My best bet would be to invite the Google people on board by giving them some shares in the IPO’ed Canonical as to give value to the company before it’s IPO day. Like Microsoft did in investing in Facebook
    creating immense value.

    Also I would play it in the press ( with real good paid PR press in WSJ and others ) tongue in cheek as to create fear in there mind and say : “that you agree with Red Hat that running a succesful charity that make so much money is unfair to those who help create value for it.” ” That since Novell and Red Hat have declared defeat a the end of the Ubuntu/ canonical it means that they leave a small 50 *Billion* market on the personnal desktop for you to fill , 50 Billion being 5% of the personnal GNU/Linux desktop market after paying for 30 + billion in investement , since Apple who as 2% and the ipod/iphone and is valued at 150 Billion it’s areasonnable estimate. You then annonce your IPO and name the people who are getting shares

    – The Google People
    – Cannonical / Ubuntu ( your community )
    – Me ( details to be worked out of course ) With a cash Bonus of 50 million for the IPO now idea and strategy after the deal is done and Ipo done too.
    – Other people Like Al gore , Nelson Mandela , etc …
    – Other people you might have in mind.


    Here is what my crazy brain tought of :

    – 50 billion from whatever cash people are willing to pay for it for starter , it could go higher as people start making the price value like it did for Google.
    – Make shure the number of share is equal or higher to those of Microsoft and Red Hat.

    – Once the high value IPO is done after 1 -2 week split the stock to 10 cents so that small investors can get in on it too.example say the share are at 100$ each you split them into 10 cents shares , 100 shares become 1000 shares at 10 cent each , people will make the price go up again but you can sale a lot of splited shares adding even more value and money in the company coffers , most stock market need a 1$ value to be indexed so it’s going to be adding another minimum 100% value to the company.

    Now your on top of a company worth at minimum 100 Billion. Not even in the crazy number as your a desktop champs compared to Apple and Microsoft value.

    You take 50 Billion from it and have a guaranteed Loan for 35 + Billion , that you can repay when you feel like it and that as controled vote by you , Split the company to 10 cents again and buy back the loan with another loan.

    The 35+ Billion you use to Buy technology , technology center and developer.

    With 1 Billion divided into 1 million just have the bank guarantee a 10 year paiement of 10% ( 100 k ) on a fiduciary investment of 1 million and hire/train developer worldwide. Make this into a contract that after 10 years the fiduciary account will become the property of the new hir/trained developer.

    With another Billion Open Labs/service centers in the same City or close to that city to the one that Red Hat as office in , in the poorest center so that you have more space then they do.

    Try and buyout NCIX and NewEgg. Seem unrelated but they have really good online hardware vendor sites with extremely good service reputation , this give you access to Hardware for worldwide labs , but information about what is selling from the inside.

    I have other idea on the subject but that sums up pretty much the point I want to make at this time.

    One more thing , since Novell and Red Hat are saying that there is no market for personnal desktop I would make the invite to there shareolders to make a stock swap exchange , for 1 share of Red Hat or Novell you give them 2 of Canonical during pr after the IPO , factor in both the numbers of shares of those two company before making the number of shares of canonical. You might end up with 10% or more of there company stocks , you could make a 2-3 of there shares for 1 of canonical exchange offer to Mandriva and Turbolinux shareolders too.

    Just make sure you keep/control 51% of the share for control of the company.

    You should seriously consider doing it now and almost as described , because everyone see Ubuntu as the Desktop king this days. That would send a real good message , after the quitting of Red Hat and novell about Ubuntu and that would make those people who think canonical as a charity gasping for air 😉

    You could always tell me how you rate my fiction by replying to me by email :

    And if you plan into turning it into a biography and stuff of legends 😉

    Also , it’s not really for public eyes if you know what I mean 😉

    reference :



    God speed on the Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron release.


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  28. Alexa Says:

    I did this a while back and it works quite nicely.

  29. J. Taylor Says:

    I guess my quote would be: “I don’t use windows not because I hate Microsoft, but because I hate virii, spyware, rootkits, popups, system failures, bugs, freezes, and poor design.”

    Anyhow, I’m very very impressed with what the people at Ubuntu are doing. I personally use Gentoo, and am too entrenched to switch over, but when I’m recommending a distro for people coming from windows, or just wanting to try out Linux, it’s always Ubuntu — they’ve really got a grip on the whole usability thing. Another job well done with this one….

    — J. Taylor

  30. Yesudeep Mangalapilly Says:

    Hello there Mark,

    I love the work you and your team has put into build a beautiful distribution. That being said I do have a few requests to make. Few people make quality fonts for free use and distribution. I’d love it if Ubuntu made typography one of its strongholds by introducing competitive fonts to the beautiful Ayuthaya, Monaco, Lucida Grande families available with Mac OS X. Ayuthaya is an especially beautiful font to use for programmers. A font that looks just like that would add serious advantage for people using Ubuntu for a lot of text editing work.

    Other font families that we use here at work with Ubuntu include Inconsolata (which is already available in the repositories), Anonymous, and Liberation Mono.


  31. Doug Glass Says:

    WUBI is Ubuntu in a Windows folder…nothing more; the dual boot choice will take you to whichever OS you want and once there, the OS of choice is the active OS with all that implies.

    What’s nice for Windows users, those “afraid” to try Ubuntu, is that WUBI puts the Ubuntu OS 100% into one folder and puts two small files in c:\. The WUBI uninstaller (run within Windows) delete sthe one folder and the two c:\ files. The uninstall is total and all traces are gone from the active Windows OS. “100% gone” meaning all traces of the Ubuntu install are not visible; no comments here on the nature of recovering deleted Windows files.

    WUBI puts nothing into the Windows registry and makes no changes to any entry in the Windows registery.

    The nature of the WUBI install does slightly degrade Ubuntu’s performance.

  32. Sonny Says:

    I’m definitely gonna install this on my winxp laptop tonight, despite of Hardy’s arrival tomorrow. I was impressed with 6.06 LTS but haven’t got the time to fully use it. Now I will, and when the Heron lands next day, I will be at the forefront of the download queue… Yipee!!!

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