What’s new in the Windows Subsystem for Linux – September 2020

Craig

This blog post highlights the WSL updates being made over the past few months, in addition to some sneak previews of our upcoming features and future plans.

WSL 2 support is now available in Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909

We’ve heard feedback on how many users have enjoyed using WSL 2 and have made WSL 2 available to more Windows users with this backport. Customers running Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909 can now enjoy faster file system performance, 100% system call compatibility, and be able to use Docker Desktop with the WSL2-based engine. Read more about these updates, including how to ensure your machine has them, in the blog post announcement.

Update on running Linux GUI apps in WSL

GUI app support in WSL is becoming a reality! We are getting closer to an initial preview and happy to announce a preview release for Windows Insiders within the next couple of months.

Below is an early look at an internal build running GUI apps in WSL! You can see that WSL will support many different types of applications, including IDEs running fully in a Linux environment. We have included lots of fit and finish details, such as showing the icons for Linux apps in the task bar and support for audio with your microphone (and yes, that really is the Linux version of Microsoft Teams running in WSL).

WSL GUI app support

Stay tuned for more details about this feature coming soon. If you’d like to learn more about the architecture behind this change, check out the X11 and Wayland talk at the XDC 2020 conference from Steve Pronovost.

WSL –install with distro support is coming soon to Insiders

At the BUILD 2020 conference we announced that we will be adding a new command that will allow you to fully install WSL called wsl --install. The first iteration of this feature is currently available in Windows Insiders. Within the next couple of weeks, the --install argument will include the ability to install WSL distros, meaning you will be able to fully set up WSL on your machine, along with your chosen distro, with just one command.

Access Linux file systems using WSL

Starting with Windows Insiders preview build 20211, WSL 2 offers a new feature: wsl --mount. This new parameter allows a physical disk to be attached and mounted inside WSL 2, enabling you to access filesystems that aren’t natively supported by Windows (such as ext4). You can also navigate to these files inside of Windows File Explorer.

Access EXT4 in Windows

To learn more about this feature read the WSL 2 mount disk doc or announcement blog post.

Open-sourcing TensorFlow with DirectML

WSL includes support for GPU compute workflows, available now in Windows Insiders builds. Read more about this change and how to get started in our docs: GPU accelerated machine learning training. Additionally, we made the source code of TensorFlow-DirectML, an extension of TensorFlow on Windows, available to the public as an open-source project on Github. TensorFlow-DirectML broadens the reach of TensorFlow beyond its traditional Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) support, by enabling high-performance training and inferencing of machine learning models on any Windows devices with a DirectX 12-capable GPU through DirectML. DirectML is a hardware-accelerated deep learning API on Windows. You can learn more about this change on the announcement blog post.

Linux kernel versions now auto-updated via Microsoft Update for WSL

Earlier this year, we announced that the Linux kernel in WSL 2 will be serviced out of the Windows image. This means you can have greater control over your Linux kernel version, as well as your Windows version, enabling you to stay safe and secure as Windows keeps you up to date. The new kernel versions are no longer only for Windows Insiders, now any device that has WSL enabled and has opted in to Microsoft Updates will automatically receive the latest kernel version! Find our Linux kernel release history on the WSL docs.

Follow up with us

Let us know what you think about these changes via Twitter, you can follow me @craigaloewen and find all the WSL team members in this twitter list. If you run into any issues, or have technical feedback and feature requests for our team please file an issue on our WSL repo in Github.

13 comments

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  • adrianghc

    I look forward to the GUI support, although it doesn’t sound like it will be done in time for 21H1 (and if 21H2 is like the previous two H2 updates, probably not for that one either). Or am I being too pessimistic here?

    Today I got an update to the Linux kernel on one PC but not on the other. Is the rollout staged or could there be some other issue? The PC I didn’t got the update on is in the Windows Insiders beta channel.

    EDIT: The solution for the missing update was the “search for updates to other Microsoft products” setting in Windows Update.

  • Chang

    Great, I’m looking forward to it.

    I would like to know if Chinese input methods for windows can be used directly in Linux GUI applications?

  • Linda Vitali

    With GUI support will I be able to run simulation environment like ROS Gazebo and thus use my dedicated gpu?

  • Pedro

    The windows explorer screenshot with the tall giant disgusting uwp address bar is just awful. The address bar is the reason why I’m doing everything I can to avoid updating windows.

    I tried installing the backported WSL 2 patch, but after I found out that WSL2 uses 4GB of ram, I just downgraded again and reverted to using WSL1.

    With microsoft it’s always one step forward, two steps backward.

  • شمیم اقدام

    <

    p>what is the meaning of “With microsoft it’s always one step forward, two steps backward”?
    Please share your experiences with me through the 3sotweb

  • David Vescovi

    Serial and USB serial support is still high on my wish list.
    I see this also has many up votes any updates on E.T.A.?

  • Mamun Biswas

    There are lots of new upgrades and features while in the Windows Subsystem for Linux that I did not have the time to say within this short post. However, these characteristics are very useful to anyone who makes use of Linux as their main operating system.

    By way of instance, should you use Linux and use your own email program, you are aware the apps will start quickly whenever they start. The programs will load very quickly and there is absolutely no delay whatsoever. This is quite distinct in the Windows OS, at which there is a great deal of delay before it loads whenever you open a file.

    Another terrific feature is the power to run numerous copies of Windows in your own system and also to do so securely. The reason why that this works is the fact that all time you reboot your personal computer, your Linux machine is running in another partition. This retains each one your computer data safe and secure. Read more about Windows Subsystem for Linux.

  • Aviv Avitan

    This is all nice and well, but without enabling a easily configurable static ip and subnet, we can not deploy this solution in VPN based environment.

    Please prioritize this issue

    • Алексей Игнатов

      What do you mean by “VPN based environment”?
      For me wsl2 works perfectly while using openvpn or cisco vpn client on host machine.