Windows 10’s Linux Kernel Is Now Available

The Tux mascot of Linux on a Windows 10 screen backgroundLarry Ewing

Microsoft has released a new version of Windows 10 Insider Preview integrating the Windows subsystem for Linux 2. WSL 2 includes a real Linux kernel this allows you to run more Linux software on Windows and with better performance than WSL 1.

This is part of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 18917, published June 12, 2019. It is part of the series of quick updates. You can experiment today, even if you will have to join the Windows Insider Program and get unstable versions of Windows 10 on your PC.

Microsoft's Windows command-line blog offers more information about WSL 2, Complete with an installation guide, list of changes in user experience, and more documentation. To install WSL 2 on the latest insider version, run the following command in an open PowerShell window with administrator permissions:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform

This new version of WSL 2 uses Hyper-V features to create a lightweight virtual machine with a minimal Linux kernel. It will still be available on Windows 10 Home, although Hyper-V is not normally available on Windows 10 Home. Expect more compatibility with Linux software, including Docker support, and "a dramatic increase in file system performance."

The virtual machine will launch automatically at startup and will use some memory in the background, but Microsoft promises that it "has a small memory footprint." You can run the wsl –shutdown command if you want to shut down the virtual machine in the background.

WSL 2 is part of the development version of Windows 10 20H1, which is scheduled for release in April 2020. WSL may be part of Windows 10 19H2, due out in October 2019, but Microsoft has not yet tested 19H2.

The latest version of Windows 10 Insider also includes other useful features. You can now access Settings> Update & Security> Broadcast Optimization> Advanced Options to limit Windows Update. For example, you can configure Windows Update to use only 1 Mbps or a specific percentage of your available bandwidth when downloading updates in the background.

RELATED: Windows 10 becomes an integrated Linux kernel

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