PowerShell becomes Open Source: available on Linux and Mac

Microsoft Headquarters
Microsoft Headquarters

This week Microsoft has announced that PowerShell, a shell born to compensate the crippled Windows CMD, is now Open Source! At the same time, Microsoft released an alpha version for Linux and macOS. After the open-sourcing of .NET framework last year, the next step towards an “open” Microsoft is PowerShell. The shell mostly known by advanced Microsoft System Administrators enters GitHub and versions for Linux and Mac are released in an alpha state. Right now only a few distributions are available as packages: CentOS, RHEL and Ubuntu. Microsoft has also published, in the PowerShell GitHub repository, a guide to build it on Linux. PowerShell is a powerful, extensible shell and scripting language that has been even used by companies like Amazon or VMware to build the so-called cmdlets that enable Windows users to control their environments (AWS or vSphere in this case) directly from the command line.

Do we really need PowerShell on Linux?

This move, explains Jeffrey Snower in the announcement, is thought to help people working with heterogeneous environments. In the announcement it is clearly explained that everything started from one problem. If you wanted to standardize everything using PowerShell that wouldn’t have been possible, especially because the entire stack on which it is based (.NET framework) wasn’t available for Linux or macOS in the past. But does that mean we really need it? As many tech people are guessing that doesn’t really make sense since Linux has got its own shell. The most common shell under Linux is Bash: the Bourne Again SHell has been available for years and it is (by many) considered superior to the Windows CMD. As a matter of fact many Linux users use Bash and feel uneasy when using Windows because of the lack of it. That has been partially mitigated in the years by projects like Cygwin or Babun and a few months ago the joint efforts of Canonical and Microsoft produced an “Ubuntu port” on Windows (but only for Windows 10 users). But is the opposite (Windows cli on Linux) really that appreciated?


Microsoft has shown some openings to another philosophy ever since Satya Nadella became its CEO. Although Microsoft says it loves Linux, that isn’t entirely true, and moves like the open-sourcing of .NET and PowerShell probably serve some complex business plan. Nevertheless this news will bring happiness to Microsoft sysadmins since they will be able to use their favourite shell even on Linux and macOS. How powerful PowerShell is on the other systems compared to Windows is yet to be discovered.

Image courtesy of Robert Scoble.

Image courtesy of Robert Scoble

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