Microsoft recently announced the availability for Windows 11 of an environment WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) that runs Linux executable files. Unlike WSL submissions for earlier versions of Windows, the version of Windows 11 is not integrated into the system image, but is instead designed as an application distributed through the Microsoft Store.
At the same time, from the point of view of the technologies used, the WSL padding has remained the same, only the installation and update method has changed.
Microsoft mentions that this is not about a remake of WSL, but it is the same one that many of us already know and that also comes with new features that can be found in this preview, such as:
- New functions such as wsl.exe –mount, VHD. – mount –vhd (to facilitate mounting of files)
- File system detection has been implemented.
- Support for optionally naming a mount point when mounting a disk via WSL. –namewsl –mount
- Linux kernel updated to 126.96.36.199
- Added progress indicator helper function that is used to display a Please Wait message with animated dots in the conversion process to show users that WSL is still running.
- Changed to not require argument. This change changes to not require the argument, but maintains support to avoid breaking existing scripts.wsl –install – distributionwsl –install – distribution
- Added command displaying relevant version information wsl.exe –version
Note that distribution through the Microsoft Store enables faster delivery of updates and new WSL features, including the ability to install new versions of WSL without being tied to the Windows version. For example, once experimental features such as Linux graphical application support, GPU-side computing, and disk mounting are ready, the user will be able to access them immediately, without the need to update Windows or use Windows Insider test builds.
This change moves those binaries from being part of the Windows image to being part of an application that you install from the Store. This decouples WSL from your version of Windows, allowing you to update through the Microsoft Store. So, once new features such as GUI application support, GPU computing, and Linux file system drive mounting are developed, tested, and ready for release, you will immediately get access to them on your machine without needing to update your entire Windows OS, or go to Windows Insider preview builds.
For those who are unfamiliar with the WSL environment, they should know that it is instead of being treated as if it were an emulator, this is an environment that translates Linux system calls to Windows system calls, uses a full Linux kernel environment. The proposed kernel for WSL is based on Linux kernel version 5.10, which has been extended with WSL-specific patches, including optimizations to reduce kernel startup time, reduce memory consumption, return memory freed by processes from Linux to Windows and leave the minimum required set of drivers and subsystems in the kernel.
The kernel runs in a Windows environment using a virtual machine which is already running on Azure. The WSL environment runs on a separate disk image (VHD) with an ext4 file system and a virtual network adapter.
User space components are installed separately and are based on multi-layout assemblies. For example, for WSL installation, the Microsoft Store directory offers builds of Ubuntu, Debian GNU / Linux, Kali Linux, Fedora, Alpine, SUSE, and openSUSE.
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