Microsoft just announced transforming your Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) into a standard Windows 11 application that any user can download and install from the Microsoft Store, which is a great step forward in facilitating its use.
In fact, in the official Windows app store a ‘preview’ version of this new version is now available of the application, ready to install, which also includes two interesting changes compared to the current version:
WSL is, for many users, one of the great attractions of Windows 10 (and now Windows 11), thanks to the fact that it adds a compatibility layer that allows you to run software developed for GNU / Linux on Microsoft’s own system, no need to dual boot or virtual machines.
Distributions for WSL were already installable from the Microsoft Store, but not WSL itself: that changes now
But traditionally WSL has been installed as a optional component of Windows itself, which forced us to access the “Enable or disable Windows features” dialog to enable both the WSL itself and the Virtual Machine Platform, which also forced us to restart our computer.
It is true that, a year ago, Microsoft announced an imminent change in the installation process that, for the first time, allowed perform this with a single command from PowerShell. However, what was announced today means going a step further in ease of use …
… And yet this was not the only reason why Microsoft wanted to make this change. As Craig Loewen, Microsoft’s ‘program manager’, explains,
“The real binaries [de WSL] they were part of the Windows image, and they were repaired and updated as part of Windows. This change makes these binaries part of an app that is installed from the Store. This makes WSL independent of your version of Windows (…).
So now, once new features are developed, tested, and released for release – like GUI application support, GPU computing, and Linux file system drive mounting – you’ll have immediate access to them at your computer without having to update your entire Windows operating system. “
What do I need to know to run the new version?
To make use of this version, we must be using Windows 11 and have the optional component ‘Virtual Machine Platform’ activated; if you don’t have it, just type ‘dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all‘as administrator from PowerShell.
Also, if you had already installed WSL using the traditional method, nothing happens: the old version and the new preview can coexist, as long as you keep in mind that the version that Windows will use by default will be that of the Microsoft Store.
Image | Daniel Aleksandersen