Windows Subsystem for Linux is one of the most impressive features that has been added to Windows in many years. It was initially released on August 2016 and since then has seen a large amount of speed and features improvements.
During the BUILD conference in 2019, Microsoft announced a new version of WSL and one of the biggest changes is that it will come with a full version of the Linux Kernel.
What’s new in WSL 2 ?
WSL2 runs in an utility VM, but it’s all running behind the scenes so it won’t be a traditional VM experience. Some of the improvements are:
- Faster startup times
- High level of integration between Windows and Linux
- Small resource footprint
All new Windows Terminal
Detailed by Microsoft, the new Windows Terminal is now open source and will be delivered via the Windows Store. It comes with a lot of modern features like full Unicode, Emojis and Tabs support.
Microsoft created a video to showcase some of its features.
Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 Runs in a VM.
Compared to WSL1, WSL2 works in a very efficient Hyper-V VM under Windows 10 that is really tight to internal services from the OS. The result is that WSL2 has speed improvements from 5 to 20 times in some tasks. Most of these speed improvements are around disk access and file read/write.
GPU, USB and serial access is very limited in the initial version of WSL 2, so plan to stay on WSL 1 if you are completely depending on these features.
WSL 1 won’t be deprecated
Microsoft has no plans to deprecate WSL 1 for now. There is some functionality in WSL 1 that can’t be achieved in WSL 2 because of the nature of running under a VM. We believe that MS will be deprecating WSL 1 once all compatibility issues are solved.
Wether or not WSL2 accomplishes to bring even more software developers back to Windows is something that is yet to be seen. That said, this opens up even more opportunities to developers and will definitely cause people to think twice before dismissing Windows as a web development platform.