Over a year ago, Microsoft announced the availability for install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WLS) —the software that allows you to run Linux inside a Windows system— from the Microsoft Store, although in a ‘preview’ state and only for Windows 11. Meanwhile, its official installation method for Windows 10/11 would remain the traditional one. Until now.
Because, a few hours ago, Microsoft announced that “WSL Store version is now the default version”. So when we run the command ‘wsl –install’the procedures we knew will no longer be necessary: the subsystem component will no longer be enabled, the kernel will not be installed separately, nor the WSLg packages, etc.
As Craig Loewen, Windows Developer Platform Program Manager, explained, this ‘old’ version of WSL
“will continue to receive critical bug fixes, but the Store version of WSL will be where new features and functionality are implemented“.
Remember that this differentiation between ‘Windows component’ (old installation) and Store package (new installation) has nothing to do with the distinction between WSL1 (pseudo virtual machine, without full kernel) and WSL2 (100% virtualized Linux).
“With this update, our goal is to simplify our version history. Since WSL 2 is the default distribution type, and the Store version of WSL is the default install location, you can say: WSL is an app in the Microsoft Store that gives you allows you to run real Linux, which integrates directly into Windows.”
This change It won’t reach most users until mid-December.: If you want to use it now, you have to force the installation of Windows updates KB5020030 (if you use Windows 10) or KB5019157 (if you use Windows 11).
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Changes in the installation and update commands:
In turn, this WSL update adds new arguments to the ‘wsl –install’ installation command:
- –inbox: Forces to use the Windows component instead of the Store version.
- –enable-wsl1: Enable WSL1 support during Microsoft Store version installation by also enabling the Windows component.
- –no-distribution: It does not install any particular distribution when installing WSL.
- –no-launch: It does not automatically start the Linux distribution after installation.
- –web-download: Download the latest version of WSL from the WWW instead of from the Microsoft Store.
Also, ‘wsl.exe –update’ now it is used for update the ‘component’ version of WSL to the new Store version. And, if you already have the latter, the command updates the version of the package.
GUI + Systemd Apps
Two other fundamental changes of this new version are the following:
- The possibility of run Linux apps with GUI on Windows 10 (Until now, that option was only available to Windows 11 users… unless you resorted to VNC applications and extra configuration procedures.)
- Support for systemd is introduced, a key component of most modern Linux distributions. Thanks to their collaboration with Canonical, it will be possible to make use of applications that depend on systemd, such as the Snap package system, or the microk8s service, which allows Kubernetes containers to run locally, in WSL.