Microsoft Windows Subsystem for Linux is now offered as an application • The Register

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Microsoft has unveiled a new version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) – in the form of an app you buy from the Microsoft Store. And the software giant will steer WSL users to this new version in the future.

Turning WSL into an application might seem a little odd, given that the software’s goal was to put Linux at the heart of Windows so that penguins and developers don’t need to mess around with virtual machines chomping on resources.

Microsoft’s rationale for the change is that WSL and Windows are currently paired: you can’t upgrade the former without updating the latter first.

“Traditionally, WSL has been installed as an optional component inside Windows,” wrote Craig Loewen, a Microsoft program manager on the Windows Development Platform. “The actual binaries that make up the logic of WSL in this optional component are part of the Windows image and are maintained and updated as part of Windows itself.”

Logically, decoupling WSL from Windows means Microsoft can update WSL more often – and so can you.

“So now, once new features such as GUI application support, GPU computation, and Linux file system drive mounting are developed, tested, and release ready, you will have access to them immediately. on your machine without needing to update your entire Windows operating system, or go to preview versions of Windows Insider, ”explains Loewen’s post.

To bolster Microsoft’s point of view, Loewen points out that the preview version of WSL-as-app added the following features not available in the built-in WSL:

  • WSLg is now integrated with the WSL application.
  • New wsl.exe --mount characteristics.
    • Add --mount --vhd for easy editing of VHD files.
    • Implement file system detection for wsl --mount. This change implements filesystem type detection if not --type is specified when using wsl.exe --mount.
    • Add --name functionality at wsl --mount. This change adds support for optionally naming a mount point when mounting a disk through WSL.
  • Linux kernel updated to 5.10.60.1
  • Added a help function to the progress indicator used to display a Please wait message with animated dots about the conversion process to show users that WSL is still running.
  • Switched wsl --install not to demand the --distribution argument. This change is changing wsl --install not to demand the --distribution argument but maintains support to avoid breaking existing scripts.
  • Added wsl.exe --version command that displays the relevant version information.

Loewen makes it clear that Microsoft will direct users to the WSL application.

“Our goals are to make WSL in the Microsoft Store the best way to install and use WSL… and in the long term, we would like to encourage WSL users to use the store version,” his article said.

Unfortunately, Loewen did not define “the long term”. He did, however, pledge that Microsoft will continue to support WSL “as we continue to develop WSL in the Store”.

In the video below, it also discusses other issues, including the compatibility of the WSL1 distribution (spoiler: it’s limited) and whether it is possible to uninstall the WSL app (yes) and revert to WSL. integrated. ®

Youtube video


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