Windows users can now run Linux apps and distributions natively

Microsoft has made its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) generally available, expanding the number of Windows users who can now run Linux apps natively.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 users can now download WSL from the Microsoft Store to run Linux distributions and Linux GUI apps without virtualization software.

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The launch marks an important milestone for the project, which has been in development for years. WSL can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store provided the user is running Windows 10 version 2004 or later.

With WSL now available in the Microsoft Store, users are expected to receive faster updates to the subsystem instead of having to wait for an update to the Windows operating system itself.

Windows 10 users can also use Linux GUI applications for the first time with the Microsoft Store release, a feature previously reserved for Windows 11 only.

“Today, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is dropping its ‘Preview’ label in the Microsoft Store and is becoming generally available with our latest release,” said Craig Loewen, program manager at Windows Developer Platform, in a blog post.

“We are also making the store version of WSL the default for new users running wsl –install and can be easily updated for existing users by running wsl –update. In response to requests from the WSL community, WSL will now also be available in the Store is available on Windows 10 in addition to Windows 11. Therefore, Windows 10 users can also enjoy all the latest features for WSL, including systemd and Linux GUI app support!”

WSL was released by Microsoft in 2018 as a compatibility layer that allows Windows users to run Linux binaries on their systems either natively or through the Windows 10 Command Prompt and PowerShell. In 2021, Microsoft made the Windows Subsystem for Linux a Windows 11 app.

For more information on installing and launching Linux GUI apps, see the official WSLg GitHub page, while a separate Microsoft page has instructions on how to install Linux on Windows using WSL.

said Josep Prat, open source engineering director at Aiven IT professional that the general availability of WSL is “great news” for the developer community.

“Linux systems, or Unix-compatible systems, offer an excellent range of command-line tools that make developers’ lives easier. Developers appreciate its portability, knowing that scripts working on their system would also work on production systems, which are almost entirely Linux-based,” he said.

“We have to acknowledge that, despite having great command-line tools, Linux systems have not always been the most UX-friendly. With the general availability of WSL on Windows, developers can now harness the full power of Linux command-line tools while still having an OS that has “batteries included” when it comes to UX and usability. Kudos to Microsoft for investing in Linux and Windows interoperability.”

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