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Windows subsystem for Linux gets more Linux

Today, the Redmond company announced some important changes to the Windows subsystem for Linux as well as some improvements to the Windows 10 command line with the Windows Terminal at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference. Both extend the already robust development methods under Windows and offer some fantastic features and additions.

The Windows subsystem for Linux has evolved dramatically since its introduction as a bash shell as part of the 2016 Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Windows subsystem For Linux or WSL, native support for Linux was provided by translating Linux system calls into Windows APIs that could be executed by Windows itself. With this feature, developers who needed Linux could install their own distribution and access their command line side by side with Windows.

While the translation layer added compatibility and usability, one area where it might trip was performance, so Microsoft adds a custom Linux kernel for Windows that can handle Linux APIs at the second WSL iteration. This is done through virtualization, where Linux runs in a lightweight, Windows-integrated Hyper-V Virtual Machine (VM) that allows full system call compatibility because the Linux kernel responds to requests and does not have them

Although this is a VM There are no resources to configure, and it takes only a few seconds to get a shell up and running. It also has the ability to access the Windows file system to retrieve and modify files, just like WSL v1

, but it also provides the ability to run most Linux utilities such as X servers, Dockers, etc. directly under Windows , As a VM, it has its own network card, but by default it is shared with the physical network card in the host PC. However, this setting can be changed before WSL v2 is officially released.

The Linux kernel itself will be a custom compiled kernel for Windows based on 4.19, the current long-term stable branch. Kernel updates will be handled through Windows Update will be required to keep the Linux system up-to-date by the end user.

In addition to the additional compatibility, the new virtualized Linux kernel brings significant performance gains for system call tasks with 20x better performance with WSL v2 compared to v1 when extracting a zipped tarball and 2 to 5 better performance when using git clone and other projects. In addition, you can continue to access and manipulate files using Windows utilities, and Microsoft has added support for the various end-of-line characters for Linux and Windows in Linux applications such as Notepad.

If you are using the Windows subsystem for Linux, these changes should all be good news. There will likely be some teething problems during the transition, but Microsoft will release this information in June for the Windows Insider program. This program has not found a good reputation in finding bugs before publishing, but it will allow people to familiarize themselves with the changes before they go into production. Microsoft has not officially stated which version this will be part of, but it could be early, depending on how far the team is and how the feedback is made.

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