2020 Was Another Interesting Year For Microsoft Around Open-Source/Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Microsoft on 28 December 2020 at 03:46 PM EST. 15 Comments
Each of the past several years it has been interesting to monitor Microsoft's engagement in the open-source and Linux communities. Over 2020 there were interesting strides from Samsung upstreaming their improved exFAT file-system driver after having Microsoft's blessing to Microsoft contributing more and more to Mesa in leveraging the OpenGL/OpenCL code in various Windows components to new WSL2 capabilities.

Microsoft's efforts in the Linux/open-source space this year were just as interesting as years prior if not even more interesting. Among the Microsoft related open-source/Linux "highlights" of 2020 include:

Microsoft Engineer Proposes "TRAMPFD" For Improving Linux Security
A Microsoft engineer is proposing the Trampoline File Descriptor "TRAMPFD" as a new kernel API for securely dealing with trampoline code on systems. There are concerns already over the potential performance implications but there does seem to be some interest in this approach.

Microsoft Announces Direct3D 12 For Linux / WSL2
As part of bringing GPU acceleration to WSL2 that was announced at today's virtual Build conference, Microsoft just published a blog post with more details including their port of Direct3D 12 for Linux.

Microsoft President Brad Smith Acknowledges They Were Previously Wrong On Open-Source
While Microsoft executives in past years have called open-source/Linux a "cancer" and other FUD, current President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, acknowledges they were wrong in those past remarks.

WSL2 Reaching General Availability In Windows 10 v2004
Microsoft announced in their forthcoming Windows 10 Version 2004 update that Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) will be entering general availability status.

LoadLibrary: Support For Loading Windows DLLs On Linux
A Google researcher has been developing "LoadLibrary" as a means of being able to load Windows Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) that in turn can be used by native Linux code.

Microsoft Is Writing Its Own Wayland Compositor As Part Of WSL2 GUI Efforts
Microsoft is working on its own Wayland compositor derived from the Weston code-base.

Microsoft Releases Its Own Open-Source Process Monitor For Linux
Microsoft's newest open-source Linux software is ProcMon for Linux, a rewritten and re-imagined version of its Processor Monitor found on Windows within their Sysinternals suite.

Microsoft Announces "DirectX 12 Ultimate"
While not Linux specific news, for those interested in graphics APIs or cross-platform aspects of gaming, Microsoft today announced DirectX 12 Ultimate.

Mainlining The Microsoft DirectX Kernel Driver For Linux Will Be An Uphill Battle
On Tuesday was the big announcement of Microsoft bringing Direct3D 12 to Linux/WSL2 in the context of allowing GUI applications and GPU compute within Windows Subsystem for Linux. This also means OpenCL/OpenGL/Vulkan support by ultimately converting it into D3D12 consumption by the host Windows system. While Microsoft was quick to post patches for their "dxgkrnl" kernel driver for this Direct3D implementation, it's already facing resistance and will be an uphill battle for it to be mainlined.

Microsoft + Collabora Working To Map OpenGL/OpenCL Over DirectX 12
Microsoft and Collabora are today announcing a partnership for building OpenCL and OpenGL mapping layers over DirectX (D3D12).

Microsoft And A KDE Project Spar Over "MAUI"
A few years ago it was GNOME developers frustrated with Microsoft over naming a project GVFS (later renamed to Virtual File System for Git) as it collided with their GVFS (GNOME Virtual File-System) while now there is a similar situation brewing between Microsoft and KDE camps.

Microsoft Is Exploring LTO+PGO For A Faster Linux Kernel
While more and more software vendors are employing link-time optimizations (LTO) and profile-guided optimizations (PGO) for leveraging the compiler to squeeze out performance, it may surprise many that Microsoft engineers are exploring LTO+PGO for the Linux kernel in their own quest of achieving greater Linux performance.

Microsoft Has Now Open-Source Their BASIC Code From 1983
Adding to Microsoft's wild ride this week after announcing Linux GUI apps for WSL2 and in turn writing their own Wayland compositor, Direct3D sort of for WSL2/Linux, and other announcements out of BUILD 2020, the company has announced the open-sourcing of their original BASIC implementation.

Microsoft To Support GPU Acceleration, Linux GUI Apps On WSL2
Microsoft's virtual Build conference kicked off this morning and this year brings another big improvement on the Windows Subsystem for Linux front...

"Microsoft Wants To Create A Complete Virtualization Stack With Linux"
Microsoft engineers are sending out new kernel patches in looking to expand the Linux support around the Microsoft Hypervisor (Hyper-V).

Microsoft Edge Is Coming Out For Linux Next Month
As part of a host of announcements for kicking off the virtual Ignite 2020 conference, Microsoft just confirmed they will be releasing their Edge web browser for Linux next month.

Microsoft Is Backporting WSL2 To Their Windows 10 2019 Releases
WSL2 as a HyperV-powered more VM-like Windows Subsystem for Linux rolled out officially in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. Microsoft though has now back-ported WSL2 to their Windows 10 November 2019 and May 2019 updates.

Wine-Mono Won't Bother With .NET 5.0 - The Official Microsoft Binaries Should Work Fine
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that the .NET 5.0 release is now "feature complete" for this major overhaul of .NET that breaks compatibility with prior versions. Microsoft .NET 5.0 has many changes to its libraries and runtimes, introduces WebAssembly support, support for single file applications/executables, new APIs, better performance, and much more.

Progress Being Made On OpenCL+OpenGL Over Direct3D 12
There is an update on the porting effort led by Collabora and Microsoft for layering OpenCL and OpenGL on top of Direct3D 12.

NVIDIA, Intel Post New Windows 10 Graphics Drivers For WSL2 Linux App Support
Intel and NVIDIA have both published new Windows 10 graphics drivers that support the new experimental capabilities coming to Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) for running Linux GUI applications atop Windows and ultimately for exposing GPU compute capabilities as well inside the WSL2 environment.

What do you think 2021 will hold for Microsoft and Linux?
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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