At the Microsoft Build 2020 virtual developer conference, CEO Satya Nadella announced that Linux’s Windows Subsystem (WSL) 2.0 will soon support Linux GUI and applications. This day is closer than ever. At the recent X.Org Developer Conference (XDC), Microsoft partner development director Steve Pronovost revealed that Microsoft has made it possible to run graphical Linux applications in WSL.
It has been possible to run Linux graphics programs on WSL, such as GIMP graphics editor, Evolution email client and LibreOffice. But it is not easy. You must install a third-party X Window display server, such as VcXsrv Windows X Server in Windows 1
Now, Microsoft has ported Wayland display server to WSL. Wayland is the most popular X Window compatible server. In WSL2, it connects a graphical Linux application to a Windows main display through a remote desktop protocol (RDP) connection. This means you can run Linux and Windows GUI applications on the same desktop screen at the same time.
WSL actually runs Linux in a virtual machine hosted by Windows, and we integrate the application (console and now GUI) back to the Windows desktop, so you can run Win32 and Linux applications in a unified experience. Since Linux runs in a VM, we cannot run native GPU drivers that expect direct access to the GPU (unless we want to perform operations such as discrete device allocation and assign a host GPU to the VM… but the host will not be able to access The GPU!). Use GPU-PV [GPU Paravirtualization] We can basically project the host GPU on Linux, and make Linux and Windows processes share the same physical GPU without the need for fixed resource partitions.
Microsoft WSL program manager Craig Loewen added in a Twitter thread that the main difference between using a third-party X server and the built-in Wayland server is: “You don’t need to start or start the server, we will solve it for you.” In addition, it It also comes with “perfect integration with Windows”, such as projection and Linux icon support.
Loewen also said that you can run a Linux web browser in it. “We have not tested it extensively in a complete desktop environment, because we want to focus on running frequently needed applications first, mainly IDEs [integrated development environment] So you can run them in a complete Linux environment. “
However, please don’t get excited about it. Loewen continued: “We don’t have an ETA for the Beta channel, but this work will usually be provided to Insiders to try it out in the next few months.”
Microsoft has integrated Linux into Windows for some time. Four years ago, Microsoft introduced WSL, which brought Linux Bash Shell to Windows 10. With Bash and WSL, you can run most Linux Shell tools and popular Linux programming languages.
Over time, Linux has gradually become a first-class citizen on the Windows desktop. Several Linux distributions started with Ubuntu, followed by Red Hat Fedora and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). Then, Microsoft replaced the WSL conversion layer with WSL 2, which converted Linux kernel calls to Windows calls. This update comes with Microsoft’s own Linux kernel running on a stripped-down version of the Hyper-V hypervisor.
Recently, starting with the Windows 10 Insider Preview internal version 20211, Windows users can access the Linux file system. This includes accessing Linux file systems that are not natively supported by Windows, such as ext4. This also means that if you dual boot Windows and Linux using different disks, you can now access Linux files from Windows. In this way, you can access Linux files from Windows File Explorer and PowerShell windows with administrative privileges.
At the rate of progress, my “crazy” prediction that Windows 11 might run on Linux may not have been realized yet!