Microsoft has made available a preliminary version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for Windows 11 in the Microsoft Store. This is not a new version of WSL; Microsoft is simply making the existing WSL 2 available in the Store as an option at this point. Microsoft’s goal in doing this is to provide users with the latest WSL updates and features faster, according to the blog post announcing the new Preview.
For years, the Windows Subsystem for Linux has made life easier for developers, system administrators and hobbyists who have one foot in the Windows world and one foot in the Linux world.
Last year, Microsoft introduced an evolution of WSL: WSL 2. This new version of the architecture which allows the Windows for Linux subsystem to run binaries ELF64 Linux on Windows uses a real Linux kernel, changes the way these binaries Linux interacts with Windows and your computer hardware, while providing the same user experience as in WSL 1. WSL 2 offers much faster file system performance and full system call compatibility, allowing you to run more applications like Docker!
This new version of WSL 2 uses Hyper-V functionality to create a lightweight virtual machine with a minimal Linux kernel. Expect better compatibility with Linux software, including Docker support, and a dramatic increase in file system performance.
The Windows for Linux subsystem is not perfect on Windows 11, but has improvements.
Initially, installing WSL was more complicated than it should be. In Windows 10 build 2004, which brought WSL 2, Microsoft fixed this. Just open a raised command prompt (start -> type cmd -> click on Run as administrator), type wsl –install prompt and you can begin. Windows 11, fortunately, continues this process unchanged.
A simple wsl –install without further argument allows you to get Hyper-V and the other WSL fundamentals, as well as the current version of Ubuntu. If you are not an Ubuntu fan, you can see what other easily installable distributions are available with the command wsl –list –online0 If you decide that you prefer a different distribution, you can install it instead with, for example, wsl –install -d openSUSE-42.
If you are not sure which distribution you prefer, don’t worry. You can install as many as you want, just by repeating wsl –list –online to number your options and wsl –install -d distroname to install whatever you want.
Installing a second distribution does not uninstall the first; it creates a separate environment, independent of any other. You can run as many of these installed environments as you want at the same time, without worrying about one disrupting the other.
In addition to easy installation, WSL on Windows 11 supports both graphics and audio in WSL applications.
A stand-alone version to provide updates independent of the operating system
Until now, WSL has been installed as an optional component in Windows. As stated in Microsoft’s post, the binaries that make up the WSL logic in this optional component are part of the Windows image and are therefore maintained and updated when the operating system itself is. By decoupling WSL from the Windows image and making it a separate app available in the Store, users can get updates to the app regardless of the operating system.
Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Preview is now available in the Microsoft Store as a standalone app for Windows 11 machines *! Installing WSL through the Store will allow you to get the latest WSL updates and features faster, and without having to change your version of Windows, Microsoft explained.
There are two big reasons to be excited about this change: you can access WSL features faster, and you don’t have to worry about changing your version of Windows when you get the latest WSL updates.
Traditionally, WSL has been installed as an optional component inside Windows. This means that you have to access the “Enable or disable Windows features” dialog box to activate it, which requires you to restart your machine. 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.
This change ensures that these binaries are no longer part of the Windows image, but rather part of an application that you install from the Store. This disassociates WSL from your Windows version, allowing you to update through the Microsoft Store instead. So now, once new features such as GUI application support, GPU computation, and Linux file system drive mounting are developed, tested, and released, you will have immediate access to them at your machine without needing to update your entire Windows operating system, or go to the Preview versions of Windows Insider.
Some new features can be found in this Preview, including:
- WSLg which is now integrated with the WSL application.
- New features of wsl.exe –mount*:
- Addition of –mount –vhd for easy editing of VHD files.
- File system detection implementation for wsl –mount. This change implements filesystem type detection if none –type is specified when using wsl.exe –mount.
- Added functionality –name wsl –mount. This change adds support for the optional designation of a mount point when mounting a disk through WSL.
- Linux kernel updated to 22.214.171.124
- Added help function the progress indicator uses to display a message Please wait with animated points on the conversion process to show users that WSL is still running.
- Wsl –install commut to not require the argument –distribution. This modification modifies wsl –install so as not to need the argument –distribution but maintains support to avoid breaking existing scripts.
- Adding the command wsl.exe –version which displays relevant version information
Microsoft also engaged in the frequently asked questions exercise:
Can I install WSL from the Microsoft Store if I already have WSL installed?
Yes! If you have already installed the Windows version of WSL, you can also install the WSL Preview from the Store. These can both be installed on your machine simultaneously, and you will still have access to all of your exact WSL distributions. The version of the WSL store will always take precedence, so when installed on your machine, this is the version of WSL that you will interact with.
Can I use WSL 1 distributions with the Store version?
Yes, you will also be able to use WSL 1 distributions with this, but you will need to ensure that the optional Windows Subsystem for Linux component is enabled. Indeed, the real driver that powers the WSL 1 distributions remains inside this optional component of Windows, because it is closely coupled with the Windows version. Our future goals within the team are to improve WSL 2 distributions to be the best WSL experience by addressing some of the areas where users prefer WSL 1 distributions, and installing the Microsoft Store version of WSL will allow you to see these improvements to the WSL 2 distributions at the earliest.
What are WSL’s future plans in the Windows * image?
Our goals are to make WSL in the Microsoft Store the best way to install and use WSL, because you will be able to get the latest updates as quickly as possible through this route, and in the long term, we would like to move WSL users to use the store version. However, in Windows 11 we still support the Windows nested version of WSL as we continue to develop WSL in the Store. This means that if you are using the nested version you are still supported but also that the optional WSL component is still present in Windows 11. We will be data driven and will use your comments from this Preview to help us inform us. our future decisions with WSL in the Windows image in future releases.
How to uninstall WSL from Microsoft Store and revert to Windows version?
If WSL from Microsoft Store is installed and you want to revert to the Windows version, you can follow these steps:
- Find * Windows Subsystem for Linux * in the Start menu, right click on the application and click * Uninstall * to uninstall the version from the store
- Make sure the optional * Windows Subsystem for Linux * component is enabled, see this step of the installation documentation for details
After completing these steps, you will be back to using the Windows version of WSL.
To install and use WSL from the Store, users must be running at least Windows 11 build 22000. The optional virtual machine platform component must also be enabled. If these conditions are met, users can go to the WSL Store page and click Install to install WSL, then install a supported Linux distribution of their choice.
Users who have installed the Windows version of WSL can still install the WSL Preview from the Store, as both can run simultaneously (however, the Store version will always take priority). Users will be able to use WSL 1 distributions with the Preview Store as long as the optional WSL component is enabled. Additionally, users will have the option to uninstall WSL from Store and revert to Windows version.
Source : Microsoft
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