What is Windows Subsystem for Linux [WSL]

Windows subsystem for Linux is a great utility. It lets you run a Linux distribution side-by-side with Windows. Most of the command and utilities are usable. WSL creates a compatible environment to run Linux in Windows. In this environment, you can run Linux apps, programs, or utilities. It also lets you run the Linux command line. Therefore, what is the Windows system for Linux [WSL] can do or how to use it. We are here to find answers to these questions. So let us get started.

What is Windows Subsystem for Linux [WSL]

As I said earlier, the Windows subsystem for Linux or WSL lets you run Linux on Windows. A great utility that saves you time. You do not need to install Linux in dual boot with Windows. It is a good option to run Linux on your PC. However, in dual boot, you will need to switch from one OS to another. You can’t run both OSs simultaneously. This problem is solved with the virtual machine. You can simulate a Linux OS with a virtual machine. However, it consumes a lot of resources. Nevertheless, no need to worry. All of these problems have solutions, the Windows subsystem for Linux [WSL]. You can run Windows and Linux side-by-side and it doesn’t consume many resources.

Linux with Windows 10

WSL runs the Linux binary natively on Windows 10. You can run everything natively on Windows 10. There is no need for porting. You just need to install WSL. Then you can go to Microsoft store and install a Linux distribution you like. WSL makes it simpler and time-saving. There are two major versions of the Windows Subsystem for Linux. These are WSL1 and WSL2. So let’s find out what are these versions. Moreover, which one is better for you.

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What is WSL1

WSL1 is the first version of the Windows subsystem for Linux. It is a compatibility layer to run Linux on Windows. WSL1 converts Linux system call to Windows system call and execute them. WSL 1 is a great utility. However, it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t support full system calls which might lead to compatibility issues. WSL 1 doesn’t use virtualization technology that affects performance. It doesn’t have full kernel support which again causes compatibility issues. Nevertheless, there are more advantages than disadvantages. It is a great utility and future versions will be more efficient. None of these issues is problematic. WSL 1 is still faster than VMs and better than the dual boot. You should give it a try.

What is WSL2

WSL 2 is a different story. It was announced with Microsoft build 2019.  WSL 2 integrates a full Linux kernel inside Windows 10. It also supports Hyper-V that helps to improve performance in the Linux app. It comes with better compatibility for Linux programs. All these features make WSL 2 a great improvement over WSL 1. However, it is in the development phase. It is only available in Windows insider builds. These insider builds are not stable and not suitable for normal users. WSL 2 will come included in future builds of windows. Nevertheless, you need to wait for it or you can go with WSL 1.

Command in Linux

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How to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10

Installing WSL is easy. Follow these steps ad you are good to go.

  • First, open control panel.
  • Search for the option “turn windows feature on and off”.
  • A new window will open.
  • Here search for windows subsystem for Linux.
  • Click on the checkbox on the right side.
  • Now click Ok. WSL will be installed shortly.

Make sure you have an internet connection.

Installing WSL via command line.

  • Open a command prompt with administrative access.
  • Put this command and click enter.

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart

  • Wait for a few seconds.

Done! You are all set now.

How to use WSL

WSL is just a layer that enables you to use Linux in windows. After installing WSL you just need to select a Linux distribution to run.

  • First, open Microsoft store.
  • Here search for Linux distribution you want to run.
  • Search and download it.
  • After downloading, you can launch it. There will be an icon in the start menu.

Done! You are all set to use Linux in your windows machine.

Wrapping Up!!

Windows subsystem for Linux or WSL lets you run Linux on Windows. The VMs are difficult to set up. They also use a huge chunk of resources. Dual boot is also an option. However, it’s hassling to switch between different operating systems. Therefore, WSL is the latest and greatest way to run Linux in windows. So go ahead and try it.