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Microsoft introduces Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in latest Windows 10 20H1 build

Microsoft plans to integrate the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in the first major Windows 10 feature update after Windows 10 1903, the Windows 10 20H1 update.

The company released a new build to the Fast Ring Windows Insider channel that includes the new version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux. With the change come important improvements and changes that users and administrators need to be aware of.

First, the basics: The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 is included in the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18971 released on June 12, 2019. It will also be included in future Insider Builds provided that Microsoft does not find critical bugs that need addressing.

WSL 2 needs to be installed before it becomes available:

  1. Make sure the Windows 10 build is at least 18917 (use winver to find out about that by launching it from Start).
  2. Open an administrative PowerShell prompt, e.g. by using the Windows-X menu.
  3. Run Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform
  4. A restart is required.
  5. Open a PowerShell prompt again.
  6. Run wsl -l to display the available distros.
  7. To verify the versions of each distro, run wsl –list –verbose or wsl -l -v
  8. Run the command wsl –set-version 2 to set a distro. Replace with the name of the distro revealed by the command under 6).
  9. To make WSL 2 the default architecture, run wsl –set-default-version 2.

The new subsystem provides the same user experience as the current version in release versions of Windows 10.

windows subsystem for linux 2

Microsoft notes that the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 comes with a “real Linux kernel” and that it changes how Linux binaries “interact with Windows” and the computer hardware.

One of the core difference between version 1 and 2 of the Windows Subsystem for Linux is that users are now encouraged to place files inside the Linux root file system. Doing so improves performance significantly according to Microsoft as they benefit from faster file system access of WSL 2.

Windows Apps may also access the Linux root file system with the release of this version. While WSL 1 still requires that users place files on the c: drive of the Windows installation, WSL 2 does away with that limitation.

WSL 2 runs in a virtual machine and that requires that the virtual machine’s IP address is required for certain tasks. To access Windows network applications from Linux, one would need to know the Windows host IP and vice versa.

Other user experience changes between WSL 1 and 2 are listed on Microsoft’s Docs website.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 comes with a range of new commands such as switching between version 1 and 2 of the subssystem or shutting down all running distributions at once. You find a list of commands on the Microsoft Dev Blog.

Now You: Do you use the Windows Subsystem for Linux?

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