Windows Subsystem for Linux

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Windows Subsystem for Linux
A component of Microsoft Windows
Bash running on Windows 10
Type Compatibility layer
Included with Windows 10 Anniversary Update
Replaces Windows Services for UNIX

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) natively on Windows 10. Microsoft and Canonical partnered together to enable an Ubuntu image to be downloaded and extracted to the user's local machine, and for the tools and utilities contained within that image to run natively on top of the WSL.[1][2][3] WSL provides a Linux-compatible kernel interface developed by Microsoft (containing no Linux kernel code), with user-mode binaries from Ubuntu running on top of it[4] – a Bash shell and command language, with native Linux command-line tools (sed, awk, etc.) and programming language interpreters (Ruby, Python, etc.).[5]

The Ubuntu version installed originally after the Anniversary Update was Ubuntu 14.04 "Trusty Tahr". It was updated to Ubuntu 16.04 "Xenial Xerus" in the Creators Update.[6]

This subsystem cannot run all Linux software such as some using a graphical user interface (GUI) or those in need of unimplemented Linux kernel services.[7] It is, however, possible to mitigate this by running graphical X Window System applications with an external X server such as VcXsrv or Xming.[8] WSL uses fewer resources than a full virtualized machine, the most direct way to run Linux software on a Windows computer, while also allowing users to use Windows apps and Linux tools on the same set of files.[5]

Windows Subsystem for Linux is only available on 64-bit editions of Windows 10[5] and can be activated on Windows 10 Anniversary Update and later. The subsystem originated in the unreleased Project Astoria, which enabled some Android applications to run on Windows 10 Mobile.[7] It was first made available in Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14316.[9]

Microsoft envisages WSL as "primarily a tool for developers – especially web developers and those who work on or with open source projects."[5]

See also


  1. ^ Harsh, Mike (30 March 2016). "Run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows". Building Apps for Windows. Microsoft. 
  2. ^ Finley, Klint (30 March 2016). "Why Microsoft Making Linux Apps Run on Windows Isn't Crazy". Wired. Condé Nast. 
  3. ^ Kirkland, Dustin (30 March 2016). "Ubuntu on Windows – The Ubuntu Userspace for Windows Developers". Ubuntu Insights. Canonical. 
  4. ^ Hammons, Jack (9 April 2016). "Bash on Ubuntu on Windows". MSDN. Microsoft. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Frequently Asked Questions for WSL". Microsoft. Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  6. ^ "Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14955". Windows Experience Blog. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  7. ^ a b Bright, Peter (6 April 2016). "Why Microsoft needed to make Windows run Linux software". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  8. ^ Aleksandersen, Daniel (7 April 2016). "Running Linux desktop apps on the Windows Subsystem for Linux". Slight Future. 
  9. ^ Aul, Gabe (6 April 2016). "Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14316". Windows Experience Blog. Microsoft. 

External links

  • Official website
  • BashOnWindows on GitHub
  • Windows Command Line Tools For Developers blog
  • Fun with the Windows Subsystem for Linux blog post
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