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Microsoft: Windows 10 Insiders Can Now Run Linux GUI Apps

Microsoft: Windows 10 Insiders Can Now Run Linux GUI Apps

Microsoft announced today at the Build 2021 developer conference that support for running Linux GUI apps is now available via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

The feature was first released one month ago and it allows Windows 10 users to run Linux (X11 and Wayland) applications with a GUI (graphical user interface) without using a virtual machine.

Even though customers have asked Microsoft to make GUI Linux apps work in WSL since at least 2016, Redmond announced plans to introduce the feature last year, at BUILD 2020.

“Support for Linux graphical user interface (GUI) apps are now available in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL),” as the company said today, during this year’s Microsoft Build 2021 developer event. “WSL allows users to run their favorite Linux tools, utilities and apps for developer workflows.”

This new feature is known as WSLg (short for Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI) and it has been officially added with the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21364 in the Dev Channel, on April 21, 2021.

WSLg requires at least Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21362+ and “is going to be generally available alongside the upcoming release of Windows,” as Microsoft explains on the project’s GitHub page.

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This means that the feature is now available to all Insiders in the Dev Channel, but those in the Beta and Release Preview channels can also get access by switching to the Dev Channel.

The feature will most likely be made available to all customers later this year with the launch of Windows 10 21H2, the next Windows 10 version.

How to get support for Linux GUI apps right now

An in-depth view of how this feature works, including additional technical details, is available in this blog post. Detailed instructions on installing WSLg on Windows 10 computers are available here.

Microsoft also provides step-by-step guidance on how to install and launch Linux GUI apps on your PC. Once installed, they can be launched from the Start menu or a terminal window.

“Please note that WSLg is only compatible with WSL 2 and will not work for WSL distribution configured to work in WSL 1 mode,” Microsoft says. “Verify that your Linux distro is configured for running in WSL 2 mode, if not switch to WSL 2.”

WSLg starts “a companion system distro, containing a Wayland, X server, pulse audio server, and everything else needed to make Linux GUI apps communicate with Windows,” as Windows Developer Platform Program Manager Craig Loewen explained.

“After you’re finished using GUI applications and terminate your WSL distribution the system distro will automatically end its session as well.

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