I’ve finally moved on from my Macbook Pro, late 2013 model and onto a Dell XPS13. I have a work-issued MBP with the touch-bar gimmick and absolutely dislike the keyboard. I decided to dual boot the device with Ubuntu 18.04 but what to do so many workarounds due to the NVMe disk in my XPS13 that made switching between OS inconvenient. I was going to wipe the Windows partition and run it as a VM until I updated the USBC firmware then something happened: my GRUB menu vanished and it booted straight to Windows.
Out of pure laziness I decided to try Windows 10 out and the new Windows Subsystem for Linux (more info here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/faq). Much to my amazement, it does a lot of basic things. There are some things that do not work (tcpdump is one example), but I think overtime it improve. As I was searching on what I can and cannot do, I found this cool party trick: Getting a GUI for WSL.
- Internet connectivity to download packages and such
- A Windows 10 device
- Enable WSL and install Ubuntu – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install-win10
- Download a Windows X-server such as VcXsrv (https://sourceforge.net/projects/vcxsrv/)
Once you get your Ubuntu instance running, you will need to install a desktop environment. In this case, its xfce. We will also need to tell Ubuntu where to display xfce.
To install xfce, you will need to run:
sudo apt install xfce4
And to tell Ubuntu where to display xfce, run:
sudo echo "export DISPLAY=:0.0" >> ~/.bashrc
Install VcXsrv and run XLaunch.
Don’t be scared when you just see a blank screen. You can do a
ALT + TAB back to your Bash terminal and run:
xfce4-session and watch the magic happen. Now you have a Linux system without running a VM!
My personal preferences:
- I hide my Windows task bar. Just hit the Windows key, type “Windows task bar” and select “Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode”
- I run the X-server in a different virtual desktop. You can do this by pressing the
CTRL + WIN + Dto start new desktop. You can also use the
CTRL + WIN + LEFT/RIGHTarrow keys to switch between.
- Here is a view of my virtual desktops:
- In xfce, I noticed Windows takes precedence for key combinations such as
ALT + TAB. I made
CTRL + TABmy combination to switch applications for Linux
I would like to try and get the following going:
- A one-liner script to open a new virtual desktop, start Xlaunch and start xfce
- Try to get GNOME working since at the time of this writing, the version you get on the Microsoft store is 18.04.1 LTS
For now, i’ll try running some of my daily-use programs with WSL. I’m also quite glad that I’m not eating up too many hardware resources. I’m currently at 37% CPU and 50% memory (my biggest resource hog is Google Chrome). This leaves me with plenty of space to spin up a VM if I need to.