Microsoft Open-Sources PowerShell, Releases Linux Port

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2016-08-18 Print this article Print

The .NET-based command-line shell and scripting language makes its way to Linux and Mac OS X.

Microsoft today announced that it had open-sourced PowerShell, the company's command-line shell and scripting language based on the .NET framework, and ported it to Linux and Mac OS X.

PowerShell is typically used by administrators and developers as a task automation and configuration management tool. Using customizable scripts and cmdlets, lightweight PowerShell commands, users can make short work of repetitive and tedious tasks in Windows shops.

Now, PowerShell is ready to tackle the administration of Linux environments.

"PowerShell on Linux is now designed to enable customers to use the same tools, and the same people, to manage everything from anywhere," said Jeffrey Snover, a technical fellow in Microsoft's Enterprise Cloud division, in an Aug. 18 announcement. "It is initially available on Ubuntu, Centos, as well as Red Hat, and also runs on Mac OS X. More platforms will be added in the future. You can download Alpha builds and check out the source code from GitHub."

Microsoft plans to follow the alpha release with an official version based on the open-source code in the future, added Snover. Interested users can access the source code and installation packages for Windows, OS X, and of course, Windows from the project's GitHub page.

Over the past few years, the Redmond, Wash. software giant has been making a concerted effort to engage the open-source community. During its Build 2014 developer conference, Microsoft announced it was open-sourcing key components of the .NET development framework, expanding its already-massive reach.

".NET continues to be a very widely used framework by developers building all kinds of applications. In fact, the installed base of .NET is mind-boggling. We've got about 1.8 billion active installs of .NET in the world today. That speaks volumes to the power and the popularity and benefits of the platform," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, former corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer division, at the time.

Nearly two years ago, while outlining his multi-OS hyperscale cloud vision, CEO Satya Nadella declared Microsoft's "love" for Linux. Today, a third of all virtual machines running on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform are Linux, according to the company.

A month after acquiring Xamarin, a mobile app development tool provider, Microsoft open-sourced the platform's software development kit (SDK). "To enable even more choice and flexibility for developers, we announced a commitment to open source Xamarin's runtime, libraries and command line tools as part of the .NET Foundation. Both the Xamarin SDK and Mono will be available under the MIT License," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group, in a March 31 announcement.

Despite Microsoft open-source overtures of late, the company's proprietary past still haunts the company.

For example, news of Microsoft's $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn raised concerns that the social networking service's practice of open-sourcing core technologies may hit a wall under its new owner. In a Q&A with eWEEK's Darryl Taft, Igor Perisic, vice president of engineering at LinkedIn, assured that LinkedIn not only intends to keep open-sourcing technology, but will also try to teach the software giant some lessons in working with the community.


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