What is WSL?

Windows Subsystem for Linux is a compatibility layer for running Linux binaries natively in a console environment on Windows 10. No re-compilation or porting is required. WSL provides a Linux-compatible kernel interface developed by Microsoft and allows a user to chose a Linux distribution to install from the Microsoft Store. A Linux distribution provides binary package management in a containerized environment. WSL provides an interface to mount drives within WSL, for example c:\ is automatically mounted as /mnt/c.

What is WSL good for?

WSL is great tool for developers, engineers, students, and *NIX/Linux geeks (or anyone aspiring to become one) who want to run Linux tools on Windows. Most of the things you can do with WSL are going to be related to programming, the console, sysadmin, automation, AI/data science, and other IT tasks.

Is this emulation?

Windows Subsystem for Linux is not an emulator or virtualizer like VirtualBox. WSL executes unmodified Linux ELF64 binaries by operating a Linux kernel interface on top of the Windows kernel in Windows 10. The WSL kernel interface translates Linux system calls from the binaries into Windows system calls and then executes them at native speed. WSL is closer in its approach to Wine which is a compatibility layer to run Windows binaries on Linux by re-implementing Windows system and API calls in libraries. More details on how WSL works.

What is WSL not good for?

  • Low-level networking tools.

  • No accelerated graphics or sound.

  • Very limited support for peripherals.

  • High-speed file I/O.

What about GUI apps?

Yes, a suprising number of Linux GUI apps can run on WSL even though this is not officially supported by Microsoft. Running a GUI app requires an X server on Windows. The X server must be downloaded, installed, and running for your GUI app to open from WSL. Otherwise it will complain of not finding a display. X servers for Windows include X410VcXsrv, and Xming.

Why should I pay for Pengwin?

  • Pengwin is the first Linux distribution designed with WSL in mind.

  • Pengwin contains hundreds of minor tweaks to the upstream distribution that optimize the experience on WSL.

  • The Pengwin team regularly adds new features, patch bugs, and provide support via GitHub.

  • Pengwin provides employment for independent open source developers and contributors.

  • Pengwin works with upstream open-source communities to submit bug reports and patches.

  • Pengwin financially supports upstream and related open source projects.

How do I enable WSL in Windows 10?

Method 1: Open PowerShell as Administrator and run:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Method 2: Start - Settings - Apps - Apps and Features - Programs and Features - Turn Windows feature on or off - Check Windows Subsystem for Linux - OK

Restart Windows when prompted.

Where can I learn more about WSL?