by Swapnil Bhartiya

With ChakraCore on Linux, Microsoft doesn’t discriminate

News Analysis
Jul 29, 2016
LinuxOpen SourceWeb Development

Microsoft is putting one of its core technologies on a competing platformrn

A few days ago I wrote about Microsoft’s revival of Skype for Linux. I called it “a big deal” — less because of Skype itself and more because it signified Microsoft’s recognition that Linux is a platform worth supporting.

As someone who has been following and covering Microsoft’s professed love of Linux, the Skype news came as a refreshing change.

Now the company has done it again.

At Node Summit this week, Microsoft announced the availability of ChakraCore for Linux. ChakraCore is the core part of the Chakra JavaScript engine that powers Microsoft Edge and Universal Windows Platform.

With this move, Microsoft is putting one of its core technologies on a competing platform. This, more than any other Linux-friendly move the company has made, is a clear departure from the Microsoft of Gates and Ballmer that used its technologies to lock users into Windows.

Charka engineers wrote in a blog post that there is no discrimination between Windows and Linux. “ChakraCore and by extension Node-ChakraCore, on other platforms have the same support for the broad set of JavaScript features as their Windows counterparts, as measured by the official ECMAScript conformance suite, test262 (with the exception of Intl features, which are in progress),” they wrote.

While Ubuntu is the primary Linux distribution that Microsoft is using to showcase its ChakraCore technologies, the company said that the support should easily translate to other modern Linux distributions.

Microsoft is working hard to make its ChakraCore work flawlessly on Linux. Since the JavaScript Runtime (JSRT) APIs to host ChakraCore were originally designed for Windows, there were many Windows dependencies. Microsoft is refactoring and redesigning a lot of code to now make it platform agnostic. They are also working on backward compatibility so that apps written in previous implementations won’t break.

The company said that this is just the beginning and they will continue to improve cross-platform support. They will also be bringing a fully-capable ChakraCore JIT compiler and concurrent and partial GC on Windows to other platforms.

It is indeed just a beginning.

I foresee Microsoft bringing more of their products and technologies to Linux. Maybe one day Linux users will be running Microsoft Word too … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.