Microsoft is building Linux on Windows at the IoT edge in Azure • The Register

Microsoft introduces the latest iteration of a tool that lets anyone using a Windows IoT device on Azure also run containerized Linux workloads.

The Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows (EFLOW) 1.4 LTS (Long Term Servicing) branch, now generally available, includes the latest features shipped with the Azure IoT Edge version 1.4 released in August, along with deployment of hardware functions on the host device for the Linux workloads and storage for sharing files and folders between Windows and Linux.

Microsoft will support EFLOW 1.4 LTS until November 12, 2024, and those running version 1.1 LTS now can update without having to reinstall the tool, wrote Martin Tuip, senior product marketing manager for Azure Edge Devices, Internet of Things Security and Robotics a blog post this week.

Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows makes the open source operating system a full partner of Windows in the Microsoft cloud. It allows users to run Windows and Linux together on a Windows IoT device, with “Enterprises relying on Windows IoT to power their edge devices [now able to] Leverage cloud-native analytics solutions built in Linux,” Microsoft wrote in a note in June.

EFLOW runs a Linux virtual machine on a Windows device and comes preinstalled with the IoT Edge runtime. Linux IoT Edge modules running inside the virtual machine while Windows runs on the host device and Windows applications can communicate with the modules inside the Linux VM.

With two-way communication, users can leverage Windows processes for user interfaces or hardware proxies for the Linux container workloads.

The Linux VM is based on the CBL-Mariner Linux distribution and, according to the giant software manufacturer, is designed for hosting IoT Edge workloads. At the same time, organizations can use Windows management tools such as PowerShell modules for scripted deployments and sample scripts to deploy EFLOW installations through Intune and Arc for Server.

There are also hardware features including Trusted Platform Module Passthrough to automatically deploy Azure IoT Edge to Linux devices, GPU acceleration for the Linux VM module, and camera and serial passthroughs.

New features in EFLOW 1.4 LTS include an update to version 2.0 of CBL-Mariner Linux, support for more network configurations like static IP, multiple NICs and DNS configurations, and GPU passthrough technologies like Direct Device Assignment for assigning GPUs to both Linux VM or Windows and GPU paravirtualization to share the GPU between the two.

EFLOW supports Nvidia’s T4 Tensor Core GPU for AI workloads and A2 Tensor Core GPU for video analytics, as well as its GeForce, Quadro, and RTX accelerators. It also supports Intel’s integrated GPU.

There is also support for deploying EFLOW on such virtual infrastructures as VMware Windows VMs. ® Microsoft is building Linux on Windows at the IoT edge in Azure • The Register

Rick Schindler

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