windows xp linux.png

I consider myself a Windows guy, but there are things I prefer doing on Linux mainly because of its advanced terminal. My unwillingness to pick a side has some inconvenient implications: rebooting into Linux every time takes too much time and virtualized Linux tends to be a little slow on most machines. Luckily, now there’s a third option that does away with both of those inconveniences: running Linux apps natively on Windows.

Using a combination of freely available tools, andLinux is capable of running Linux applications as if they were Windows applications. As you can see on the screenshot, Linux apps are nearly indistinguishable from Windows apps until you open a menu. So what’s the nifty piece of technology that powers this slightly awkward integration of Linux into Windows? It’s Xming, a Windows implementation of the X Window System, which is the software that powers the graphical interface in Linux.

andLinux comes in two flavors: a minimalistic version and a KDE bundle. Both are based on Ubuntu, which means that you install new applications using Synaptic or the old-fashioned sudo apt-get install command. It is possible to share files between Windows and Linux apps by using your computer’s shared folders.

synaptic windows linux.png

To make Linux apps work, andLinux installs a service that starts whenever Windows boots. Fortunately, it’s not a memory hog of any sorts so I wouldn’t worry about performance. Which brings us to another important point: in my tests andLinux runs rather smoothly while, compared to virtual machines, maintaining a very small memory footprint. With the two windows pictured above open, it consumed an extraordinary 17 megabytes of RAM.

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t use andLinux for however, it’s gaming. I tested game performance with a free Linux game called Blobwars, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the frame rate fell below 5fps. I’ve had better luck with the playback of Flash video, but I wouldn’t say that the picture was as smooth as I would have liked it to be.

Still, andLinux is a welcome way to access Linux for the times when you need to use it for five minutes and don’t have the patience to sit through a reboot.

andLinux website

There Are 6 Comments

  1. I suppose there are such times, as for example your own situation, but I never found a Linux app that was in any way superior or in most cases as useful as those already available on Windows. Far better, and far more useful would be to find a “trouble free” way to make Windows apps and drivers work under Linux. I gave up on it after six months of struggle with three different installs. All were as buggy and unreliable as Win 98, and none could run all my equipment. I finally asked myself why I was going through all this grief to use a less functional system?

    To each his own.

  2. Looks interesting, I use The KDE on Windows Project.

    [windows.kde.org]

  3. Frankly, I can’t think one Linux application that I want to run on Windows (at least right now). Many application already has Windows port or there’s equivalent (or even better) application in Windows.

    On the other hand, Linux as an OS (combined with all the application) is very powerful. I can’t live without my dedicated Linux firewall box, OpenFiler as NAS, and so on.. :-)

  4. I’m with Jay.

    I have been a unix web developer for 15 years, maybe ran Linux as my desktop for 2. The rest of the time I ran Windows and/or MacOS and just used a terminal.

    I appreciate all the work open source engineers put into the Linux Desktop, but its usability and native apps have never held any advantage for me personally over Windows or MacOS.

    For stuff like NAS and HTPCs I much prefer the great new tiny Linux appliances which have been built on the Atom platform, such as the Synology NAS units and WD Live HTPCs. They are tiny, cheap, very low-power, and professionally designed and supported from the ground-up for usability for their tasks.

  5. To each his/her own. I have have been a programmer for a long time and I appreciate composability and configurability of my linux tools. I used OS X for over a year but just couldn’t reach the same level of productivity and comfort. For me there is no application I need outside the apps available to Linux and the usability is superb.

  6. There are easyer solutions. Get some old pc for like 50-100$ and run linux on it :R (i got mine pentium4 2700 mhz 2 gb ram and 80 gb hdd for only 60$)
    Sereously do it – it very good to have second pc with linux.
    After ubuntu 12.04 i will never use linux on my prime pc.

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