Software

Linux on Windows 10: Microsoft makes it simpler to port your favorite distros

The company is releasing code designed streamline the process of porting a Linux distribution to run on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Microsoft is making it easier for Linux-based operating systems to run on top of Windows 10.

The company is releasing code designed to streamline the process of porting a Linux distribution to run on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

The WSL allows Windows 10 to run various GNU/Linux distros from the Windows Store, providing access to Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, and Kali Linux, with Debian due soon, and other distros to be added over time.

SEE: Ebook—IT pro's guide to working smarter with Linux (Tech Pro Research)

"We know that many Linux distros rely entirely on open-source software, so we would like to bring WSL closer to the OSS community," said Tara Raj of Microsoft's WSL team, announcing the release of the code for a"reference implementation for a WSL distribution installer application" on the code repository GitHub.

"We hope open-sourcing this project will help increase community engagement and bring more of your favorite distros to the Microsoft Store."

WSL distros run with a command line shell, rather than offering graphical desktops, and support a range of command line tools, as well as applications such as Apache web server and Oracle MySQL.

Those managing Linux distributions will be able to study the sample code for the Microsoft's reference installer to help them turn their distribution into an app that can be submitted to the Microsoft Store.

Raj also announced that developers will be able to sideload custom Linux distros on their Windows 10 machine, although these custom distros will typically not be distributed through the Windows Store.

WSL allows different Linux distros to run side-by-side within Windows and Microsoft has previously stated that its aim with the WSL is to provide "the best development environment, regardless of the technologies that developers use, or the platforms they wish to target".

However, at present, the WSL also has many disadvantages over a running a dedicated GNU/Linux system. Microsoft doesn't support desktop environments or graphical applications running on WSL, and also says it is not suitable for running production workloads, for example an Apache server supporting a website.

WSL is a work in progress, with Microsoft adding new features and support over time.

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Calling tools from different Linux distros from the Windows command line.

Image: Microsoft

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About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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