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Running Linux programs on Windows

To run a Linux program on Windows, you have these options:

  • Run the program as-is on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). In WSL your program executes directly on the machine hardware, not in a virtual machine. WSL also enables direct filesystem calls between Windows and Linux systems, removing the need for SSL transport. WSL is designed as a command-line environment and is not recommended for graphics-intensive applications. For more information, see Windows Subsystem for Linux Documentation.
  • Run the program as-is in a Linux virtual machine or Docker container, either on your local machine or on Azure. For more information, see Virtual Machines and Docker on Azure.
  • Compile the program using gcc or clang in the MinGW or MinGW-w64 environments, which provide a translation layer from Linux to Windows system calls.
  • Compile and run the program using gcc or clang in the Cygwin environment, which provides a more complete Linux environment on Windows compared to MinGW or MinGW-w64.
  • Manually port your code from Linux and compile for Windows using Microsoft C++ (MSVC). This involves refactoring platform-independent code into separate libraries, and then re-writing the Linux-specific code to use Windows-specific code (for example, Win32 or DirectX APIs). For applications that require high performance graphics, this is probably the best option.