Windows 10 is now capable of running Linux GUI applications

Linux en Windows 10

Microsoft continues to improve Linux integration in Windows 10 and the latest Windows 10 system preview 21H2 (build 21364) offers another level jump: the ability to run Linux GUI apps natively on Windows 10.

Microsoft’s “romance” with Linux continues to grow and the wedding with a priest and a notary is very close. The previous CEO, Steve Ballmer, the same one who described Linux as “a cancer”, will not be one of the guests, while the current one, Satya Nadella, will be the great godfather of this change in strategy. It seeks that developers who need Linux tools and applications can do it within Windows 10. Obviously the wedding is in their own interest. You know what they think of Microsoft: Linux yes, but without leaving Windows.

All part of the launch (almost five years ago) of the Linux Subsystem for Windows (WSL). A “Linux inside Windows” that arrived timidly since it only allowed to use Bash (the command interpreter that is installed by default in most GNU / Linux distributions) in Windows 10. Microsoft has not stopped improving the capacity of WSL since its first version. It reached an agreement with Canonical to deliver Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store and later did the same with other distributions such as Fedora and SuSE.

The second version of this tool (WSL 2) greatly improved performance, added a full Linux kernel, as well as other new features such as DirectX 12 support, promising other capabilities such as the use of custom kernels, connection of Linux applications from Windows using localhost, kernel update from Windows Update.

Linux on Windows 10: now WSLg

One of the developers’ requests to improve this subsystem has been the ability to run full Linux applications (in graphics mode) instead of being limited to command line interfaces. Microsoft promised at BUILD 2020 to meet the request and it is precisely the novelty that has arrived in this previous version.

Windows 10 now supports running Linux GUI applications (X11 and Wayland) natively without using virtual machines. “This means that you can now run your favorite GUI editors, tools, and applications to develop, test, build, and run your Linux applications.”, explain from Microsoft.

The new function has been named WSLg and has been added to Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21364, the latest preview for Insiders. “WSLg strives to make Linux GUI applications feel native and natural to use on Windows. From Start menu integration for launch to taskbar appearance, alternative tab experience to enable cut / paste in Windows and Linux applications, WSLg enables a seamless desktop experience and workflow that can take advantage of Windows and Linux applications », they clarify.

Windows Development Platform Program Manager Craig Loewen shared some WSLg use cases, including developing, debugging, and testing Linux projects with your favorite IDE and using Linux applications with built-in support. audio and 3D acceleration.

How to use it

WSLg will start automatically “A companion system distribution, containing a Wayland server, X, an audio server, and everything else needed for Linux GUI applications to communicate with Windows”. On this page Detailed information is provided on how this feature works, including additional technical details. Microsoft also provides a step by step guide on how to install and run Linux GUI applications on a PC.

To use this feature:

  • Run the preview version Windows 21364 available for Insiders.
  • If you already have WSL installed, all you need to do is run wsl –update.
  • If you don’t have WSL enabled, runtime will install WSLg automatically as part of the initial WSL setup with wsl –install.

You can consult our installation guide for this Linux Subsystem for Windows if you need it. Maximum expression of Linux in Windows 10 and the “love” that Microsoft professes for it.

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