Microsoft to Integrate the Real Linux Kernel in Windows 10, Another Surprise for Developer Community

May 9 · 4 min read

Over the years, we have seen Microsoft surprising its Linux developer community with some terrific things it has come up with such as the Native Open SSH for Windows 10, Bash Shell for Windows or Fedora, SUSE Linux and Ubuntu availability in Windows store. In another attempt, a huge one this time, Microsoft has decided to play around with the Linux Operating System this time. At the recent Microsoft Build 2019 event, the company has announced that it is planning to bring a full Linux kernel in Windows 10 later this year. Yes, you read it right. Microsoft will introduce this new update to Windows 10 during the next Windows Insiders build, which is going to be held in this summer.

According to Microsoft Program Manager, Jack Hammons, the upcoming Linux will shore up the upgraded versions of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). “Beginning with Windows Insiders builds this summer, we will include an in-house custom-built Linux kernel to underpin the newest version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL),” he said while talking about this new upgrade from Microsoft. “The kernel itself will initially be based on version 4.19, the latest long-term stable release of Linux. The kernel will be rebased at the designation of new long-term stable releases to ensure that the WSL kernel always has the latest Linux goodness,” Hammons further said.

For those who are not aware of the term ‘Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)’, it is a compatibility layer that allows Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 to run the Linux binary executables intuitively. This integration should, hopefully, improve the performance, at least for the developers, of the Microsoft’s Linux subsystem in Windows 10. Another major shift we may see through this upgrade is that this kernel is likely to be updated via Windows Update system. This will give the control to developers to establish their customized WSL kernel and add changes accordingly. Notably, the Microsoft Linux kernel — the one we are going to see in the upcoming Windows 10 — will be based on the Linux version 4.19. Conspicuously, Microsoft’s cloud computing service, Microsoft Azure also uses the same kernel technology.

Benefits of Having the Real Linux Kernel in Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

  • Freedom to Choose the Linux Distribution

On the contrary, Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 will not be providing users with the userspace binaries as it does with the existing version of Windows Subsystem for Linux 1. Consequently, Windows 10 users will hold the power to use the available Linux distribution in the Microsoft Store.

  • Enhancing the User Experience on Windows 10

While talking about the benefits of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 viz. WSL 2, Microsoft revealed that the new WSL 2 will enhance the Linux the users’ experience on Windows.

  • Better Performance and Latest Security Fixes and Improvements

It will not only provide Windows users with better performance but also give them the authority to get up-to-date security fixes automatically.

  • Enhance the File System I/O Performance

In addition to that, the integration of the Linux kernel will also enhance the File System I/O performance and system calls as well.

  • Faster than Windows Subsystem for Linux 1

This will, undoubtedly, be the faster version of WSL 2 as compared to the previous WSL 1. To measure the stronghold and swiftness of this updated version of WSL, we might say that the WSL 2 will hold the power of unpacking a tarball 20x quicker than the existing WSL 1. And, if you are a Git user, we must tell you that WSL 2 has the capability to speed up your Git clone task and npm installation by 5x times faster than the current version.

Microsoft is looking quite positive and confident about this new Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 as the company is well aware of the fact that the Docker and Linux containers are the crucial part of the IT industry nowadays. And, this new upgrade will allow Windows to run Docker containers efficiently.

While explaining the new technology, Microsoft wrote in the announcement blog that “WSL 2 is a new version of the architecture that powers the Windows Subsystem for Linux to run ELF64 Linux binaries on Windows. This new architecture changes how these Linux binaries interact with Windows and your computer’s hardware, but still provides the same user experience as in WSL 1 (the current widely available version). Individual Linux distros can be run either as a WSL 1 distro, or as a WSL 2 distro, can be upgraded or downgraded at any time, and you can run WSL 1 and WSL 2 distros side by side.”

When will the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 be Available for Windows User?

Well, as the Microsoft executives announced during the Microsoft Build 2019 event that the new Windows Subsystem for Linux Version 2 will be releasing this summer, we might expect WSL 2 availability by the end of June 2019 via the Windows Insider Program. Notably, Windows Insider Program can be referred to as the Beta program of Microsoft that provides the Windows developers early adapters to try their hands on the forthcoming features of Windows that Microsoft is working on and likely to release soon. Once the testing phase is done by the Windows developers, we might see it available for the general public afterward.


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