sudo embrace

Microsoft’s decision to introduce sudo for Windows is strangely symbolic of how influential UNIX has been even on non-UNIX ecosystems.

By Ernie Smith

It’s the best tweet that, as of this writing, nobody appears to have liked very much.

On Thursday, in the wake of a public announcement that Microsoft was adding sudo support to Windows, Bob Coggeshall, who co-authored the original sudo command at SUNY Buffalo 44 years ago, wrote a very good joke that only I appear to have noticed:

sudo you’re welcome

That is a flex if I’ve ever seen one, and it’s well-deserved, as word comes down that Microsoft has decided to take this command, one of the most common in the computing world, and bring it to its ecosystem in an official way for the first time.

For those not familiar with the command, it is basically an elevated level of execution, usually for things that require admin access or a higher level of access than your user currently has. It is essentially, in Windows terms, “run as administrator” for the command line. The immortal XKCD has an excellent comic that explains its purpose perfectly:


(It’s such a good explanation of the command’s capabilities that it eventually inspired sudo’s logo, an anthropomorphic sandwich with teeth.)

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And in many ways, Microsoft’s introduction of sudo into the Windows ecosystem, even if not as robust as anything you’ll find on a Unix derivative, is nonetheless a great sign that even if Microsoft has the market share, Unix (especially Linux) has such a strong mindshare in the broader computing ecosystem that it has to make overtures to people who use Unix-based operating systems—including the increasingly popular MacOS—to have a real chance of pulling in new generations of users.

There are very few mainstream operating systems in 2024 that don’t support this command, which is so heavily used that it’s basically second nature to anyone who uses the command line. And that means, if you haven’t used Windows in a while and jump back, all of a sudden you’re stuck with a painful learning curve. And the company’s Jordi Adoumie essentially admitted as such in a blog post about the decision:

Sudo for Windows is a new way for users to run elevated commands directly from an unelevated console session. It is an ergonomic and familiar solution for users who want to elevate a command without having to first open a new elevated console.

The message that the company is sending is intriguing. Despite still being seen as the Evil Empire, Microsoft has won over a lot of devs with its approach to the cloud and to programming, to the point where Visual Studio Code has more than pierced the veil on the Linux side of things as a popular option. (Even if it’s not perfect—the company just ran into a bit of a dramariffic saga in which VSCode stopped supporting a number of extended-life Linux distros, only to partly relent when it started making them look bad in front of the Linux community.)

I think Microsoft adding sudo is one of those things that happened because people are now more used to using command lines in context of Linux than they are Windows, and it’s obvious that Windows should have it, even of the phrasing makes zero sense in a Windows context. (After all, windows doesn’t really have superusers, like Unix does.)

Maybe Microsoft thinks small quality-of-life features like sudo can convince devs to give Windows another chance. A TechRadar headline, written by a Linux hater, speaks to a group of people who may benefit from sudo’s addition to the Windows ecosystem: “Bad news for devs—the one feature that made Linux better than Windows is finally jumping ship.”

Even if this isn’t going to be game changing for the vast majority of users, the symbolism is amazing.

Elevated Links

Remember that time Burger King sold a meatloaf sandwich? No? Retroist does.

I am sad to learn that Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires are divorcing. I feel terrible for them both. They made some beautiful music together (Isbell just won a couple of Grammys the other night), and they seemed like one of the few thick-and-thin couples around. In honor of them both, I share “If We Were Vampires,” perhaps the best song either has been involved in.

The tale of The Messenger makes me so mad. It clearly was a bad model that seemed intent on building a rich man’s idea of a news site for a bygone era. Plus, the employees got screwed and now have to rely on the kindness of GoFundMe. The Hollywood Reporter’s retelling is particularly delightful because that man, Richard Finklestein, used to co-own The Hollywood Reporter.


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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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