Microsoft Announces WSL GUI Support

Published · May 31, 2021

At Microsoft’s 2021 Build event, the engineers demonstrated an upcoming feature of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The new option would allow running Linux-based GUI apps on top of Windows 10.

WSL is a Windows tool for running a Linux kernel interface on top of Windows kernel. It lets users execute Linux apps in Windows with minimal performance loss and without setting up the OS on a virtual machine.

Until now, WSL let users only run CLI apps and take advantage of distinct Linux features like the bash shell. It’s decent enough for developers, but the GUI-based software was left out.

With the newly announced tool, WSL users will also be able to deploy Linux apps just as easily. Once installed, they will be accessible from the start menu like any other Windows program.

The demonstration covered a few Linux apps, including Audacity and Gazebo. And it works like a charm.

WLS With GUI Attempts to Replace Linux

The new WSL version will reportedly be able to leverage GPU for Linux apps. It’s certainly an attractive feature for engineers using Linux for machine learning.

Not everyone is too thrilled, though. Many users keep expressing concern that WSL is Microsoft’s attempt to embrace, extend, and extinguish Linux, which might just be the case.

That said, WSL isn’t likely to replace running Linux on a separate machine or on cloud servers. WSG has never been production-ready and doesn’t support absolutely all features of a standard Linux distro.

Plus, you can’t take advantage of the Linux networking or file-sharing systems fully.

WLS with GUI might be nice if you like to experiment or handle minor tasks without booting up Linux. We don’t expect it to be a full-on Linux replacement just yet, however.

Branko Krstic
Branko Krstic

Branko is a round-the-clock tech geek and loving it. His ideal vacation destination is the Akihabara District (or really any place he can take his computer). If there’s a server out there, count on him to find out what it’s made of… and tell you all about it.