What is the Windows Subsystem for Linux?

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a feature of Windows that allows you to run a Linux environment on your Windows machine, without the need for a separate virtual machine or dual booting. WSL is designed to provide a seamless and productive experience for developers who want to use both Windows and Linux at the same time.

What is WSL 2?

WSL 2 is the default distro type when installing a Linux distribution. WSL 2 uses virtualization technology to run a Linux kernel inside of a lightweight utility virtual machine (VM). Linux distributions run as isolated containers inside of the WSL 2 managed VM. Linux distributions running via WSL 2 will share the same network namespace, device tree (other than /dev/pts), CPU/Kernel/Memory/Swap, /init binary, but have their own PID namespace, Mount namespace, User namespace, Cgroup namespace, and init process.

WSL 2 increases file system performance and adds full system call compatibility in comparison to the WSL 1 architecture. Learn more about how WSL 1 and WSL 2 compare.

Individual Linux distributions can be run with either the WSL 1 or WSL 2 architecture. Each distribution can be upgraded or downgraded at any time and you can run WSL 1 and WSL 2 distributions side by side. See the Set WSL version command.

Microsoft Loves Linux

Learn more about Linux resources at Microsoft, including Microsoft tools that run on Linux, Linux training courses, Cloud Solution Architecture for Linux, and Microsoft + Linux news, events, and partnerships. Microsoft Loves Linux!