Linux support in Windows 10

Linux support in Windows 10

If you've been following the evolution of Windows 10 over the last few months, you must have also checked out the support for Linux in windows. In case you've not, then yes, you've read that right, Windows 10 (64-bit edition) has indeed been trying to support Linux. Microsoft calls this as Windows Subsystem for Linux acronym as WSL.

What exactly is WSL?

If you check Wikipedia for WSL it states ...

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) natively on Windows 10.

WSL provides a Linux-compatible kernel interface developed by Microsoft (containing no Linux kernel code), which can then run a Linux userland on top of it, such as that of Ubuntu, SUSE or Fedora.

Such a userland might contain a Bash shell and command language, with native Linux command-line tools (sed, awk, etc.) and programming language interpreters (Ruby, Python, etc.).

This is still under active development and the subsystem still does not run all the Linux software. You could try a hackish approach to run graphical applications from Linux in Windows by installing an X11 server.

Why exactly is WSL useful?

If you are primarily a developer, you must be aware that a lot of software/tools in the open-source world are primarily geared toward the *nix operating systems. For developers who use Windows as an OS platform, it becomes difficult to use these tools as is, without workarounds.

Now you might be wondering why not use a Linux VM, why this new system? True, you could use the Linux VM. However, WSL has some advantages over the Linux VM.

WSL is,

  • Light-weight, uses fewer resources than a fully virtualized machine.

  • Furthermore, it allows developers to use Linux software on Windows machines, as also use Windows apps and Linux tools on the same set of files.

Hooked? Wanna try installing and using it?

The best way to judge a new feature is to try it out. I would suggest you install WSL and check its benefits for yourself. This article can be a good starting point to install the subsystem and get started.

I'm finding WSL useful I'll be trying to draw upon one of the uses of WSL in my next post. So stay glued!!

Hope this was useful!!