back to article Halleluja! The Second Coming of Windows Subsystem For Linux blesses Insider faithful

Microsoft has given its army of unpaid testers some Linux loving with the latest build of next year's Windows 10. Build 18917 arrived overnight with improvements to the narrator and options to stop the thing "optimising" the life out of a user's bandwidth during delivery. However, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 is the …

  1. NATTtrash
    Trollface

    ...users can now set absolute limits for foreground and background data usage.

    I know this. This is indeed very handy. I do this all the time when I run Windows sandboxed in my VM...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not encouraging

      Thatnk you for keeping up with the progress of this, such as it is. I'll be staying with VMware Workstation for a bit more, thank you. The version before they outsourced it to India, anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cool. We already use V1 of this to support lots of legacy apps under Windows 10 alongside our Windows apps and have been able to ditch the need for seperate Linux workstations and the team supporting them.

  2. ExpatZ

    So no localhost yet eh, I know there will be more weirdness as well but then every hypervized setup has its wierdnesses.

    Better not forget 127.0.0.1 as well though, it gets used more than localhost in a ton of stuff.

  3. IGnatius T Foobar !
    Linux

    But why?

    The thing that made WSL 1 attractive is that it *isn't* a virtual machine. It's a bona fide API translation layer that does a pretty good job at transparently accessing the host's filesystem, networking, and other service. If WSL 2 is just a virtual machine ... then it doesn't offer any more value than simply running an actual copy of Linux under Hyper-V or VirtualBox or VMware. We don't just want it to run on the same computer. We want it integrated. We want it to be so integrated that future versions of Windows would be able to simply run Linux software out of the box.

    If WSL 2 is just a VM with a VHD ... there's no value anymore. I'll just uninstall it and run my own VM.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: But why?

      "We want it to be so integrated that future versions of Windows would be able to simply run Linux software out of the box."

      Why? You can already run the Linux distro of your choice (including a home-built, from scratch, totally custom distro!) on the box of your choice. Why would you want to get Redmond that deep into the loop? Why give them that kind of control over your system(s)? What's in it for you? I'm not being snarky, those are serious questions ... I see absolutely zero use for this kludge, outside the marketards and bean counters at Redmond.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But why?

        It's for those corporations which develop Linux/Unix enterprise software yet somehow manage to mandate a Windows PC for everyone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But why?

          "It's for those corporations which develop Linux/Unix enterprise software yet somehow manage to mandate a Windows PC for everyone."

          It takes time to migrate that sort of legacy Java crap to .net

      2. tcmonkey
        Flame

        Re: But why?

        Because some people are required to work on multiple disciplines simultaneously, and swapping between boxen/virtuals is a PITA? Not really that hard a concept, man.

        1. Kobblestown

          Re: But why?

          "and swapping between boxen/virtuals is a PITA"

          What do you mean "switch". I run several VirtualBox VMs and ssh into them from 'screen' sessions on Cygwin. Which also gives me a decent (if a bit sluggish) Linux command line on Windows too. I can, of course, use WSL to ssh to the VMs but I have problems running 'screen' on it. Then "switching" is simply Ctrl-A+<window number>.

          In any case, Cygwin is always the second thing I install on a fresh Windows (the first is Firefox which I then use to download everything else). I really don't understand the lack of love for Cygwin. It's not very efficient but it works very reliably. You can even use it to set up ssh server on your Windows box.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But why?

            "You can even use it to set up ssh server on your Windows box."

            But would you want to? Just type:

            Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Server~~~~0.0.1.0

            Set-Service -Name sshd -StartupType 'Automatic'

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: But why?

          I've been swapping between boxen/virtuals since the early 1970s (I was introduced to VM/370 in 1973). Over the years, it has been far less of a PITA than running anything from Redmond. Apparently this is a difficult concept to get across, man.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But why?

        Your use of an inane and childish term such as 'marketard' renders anything else you have to say nothing more than the dribbling of an imbecile.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: But why?

          So the AC doesn't like a word, and so resorts to ad hominem. Why do I think it's real problem is that it can't answer my questions without collapsing the entire mental house of cards it has built up around WSL?

          I'm sorry I made you think, Pobrecito. Hopefully it didn't hurt too much.

      4. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: But why?

        Why would you want to get Redmond that deep into the loop? Why give them that kind of control over your system(s)?

        Because Microsoft.

        That's why, it is what they do.

        Halleluja! indeed ...

        Dominance is the M$ path to everything and it is exactly where they are heading.

        Has everyone forgotten everything that has happened in the last 30 years?

        MS is slowly but steadily wrapping its slimy tentacles around Linux with this WSLinux, their acquisition of Github being another part of the scheme and Poettering a prime suspect in my book.

        The writing has been on the wall forever and even so the usual TD&Hs are all very happy because now they can run Linux apps in Windows!

        So cool !!!!

        But whatever the holy fuck do you want that crap for !!! Eh?

        Embrace, extend and extinguish may sound like a SciFi joke but it is not.

        I'll say it again: this type of stuff does not bode well for the Linux ecosystem.

        It will end up rotting it from the inside.

        And by then the virus will be deeply ingrained inside Linux and far too late.

        O.

    2. tcmonkey

      Re: But why?

      This. I am not at all sold on the newer method of doing things for all the reasons you just mentioned.

      I am also sad because the now-being-replaced WSL compatibility layer was a cool piece of tech, and it's a shame to see it thrown by the wayside for the easier way out.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: But why?

      "future versions of Windows would be able to simply run Linux software out of the box."

      It's more easily done the OTHER way: a Microsoft-blessed version of WINE, running on a Linux kernel, with a WINE-like subsystem that implements all of Win32 at the API level, making native X11 and Win32 calls.

      The rest of their ".Not" crap could then make Win32 API calls through the layer... and I bet it would STILL be faster than it is in Win-10-nic!!!

      That's just too obvious, though. Remember MS did this with Windows 1.x, 2.x, 3.x running on top of MS-DOS. So now it would be Win-11 running on Linux! heh heh heh

      1. JuJuBalt

        Re: But why?

        You lost me at X11....tada.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: But why?

        Or you could just run .NET directly on linux or OSX.

        tada

        "Remember MS did this with Windows 1.x, 2.x, 3.x running on top of MS-DOS"

        This is the opposite of that, the linux sub-system is running on Windows in the same way that old versions of Windows used to run on top of DOS.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But why?

        "It's more easily done the OTHER way: a Microsoft-blessed version of WINE, running on a Linux kernel, with a WINE-like subsystem that implements all of Win32 at the API level, making native X11 and Win32 calls."

        It really isn't easier that way. The Windows kernel is fully modular and its much easier to run Linux thunking at kernel level under Windows that it is to run Windows thunking at kernel level under Linux. Running OS emulation in userland isn't ideal.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Thinking things through ...

    "an option to throttle the bandwidth consumed by the OS"

    Which brings up the obvious question: Have your corporate lawyers vetted the information your OS of choice is harvesting and passing along to Redmond?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thinking things through ...

      Yes. Microsoft for instance provide extensive HEPA and GDPR analysis and documentation. Good luck finding those for Linux.

  5. Roland6 Silver badge

    "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

    A totally misleading name, it should more correctly be called: Linux Subsystem for Windows.

    WINE is closer to a "Windows Subsystem for Linux".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

      Perhaps that's their final destination, throwing out the Windows kernel and leaving the API.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

        "throwing out the Windows kernel and leaving the API."

    2. Adrian Harvey

      Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

      I agree. Horrible name. But at least they are consistent with their previous Windows Subsystem for UNIX Applications naming for the Interix components they bought. AKA Windows Services for UNIX (SFU) before they were bundled with to Windows 2003 R2.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

        It may be consistent, but it's not how the English language works.

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

          'not how the English language works' - Welcome to America.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "WSL 2 is aimed at encouraging developers to stick with the Windows 10 platform and..."

    ...not run the real thing in case they get to prefer it.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > "WSL 2 is aimed at encouraging developers to stick with the Windows 10 platform and..."

      Putting a Windows (3.x) subsystem in OS/2 work so well for IBM.

      At the time I was deciding on whether to develop for Presentation Manager or Windows. IBM's announcement made me decide on something that would run in both OSes.

      WINE hasn't worked so well for developers wanting to so both OSes, but WSL may just do that.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        FAIL

        OS/2 failed for different reasons. microsoft wrote the presentation manager, and OS/2 1.2 (releasing about a year before Windows 3.0) set THE standard for GUI environments.

        Microsoft has broken that of course since Windows "Ape" and Win-10-nic and UWP and 2D FLATTY FLATSO McFLATFACE, but I digress...

        The point is that OS/2 was actually SUPERIOR in every way, like a 16-bit NT in a lot of ways, a better API, and so on. But IBM marketed it for the PS/2 computer, no love for clones. THAT basically KILLED it, whereas Windows went for the clones AND the PS/2, and the rest became history.

        Too bad MS isn't studying their past successes, though. THEN they would see that they're following IBM's ineffective tactics on this one.

        1. guyr

          OS/2 failed for different reasons

          I was inside the castle for pretty much the entire run of OS/2, from pre-1.0 to 3.0 Warp. From my perspective, what killed OS/2 was IBM's defiant adherence to the original design decisions, and a refusal to modernize. For example, IBM insisted it run on the 286, even though by the time it reached any measurable market, the 386 was ubiquitous. That let to numerous architectural restrictions the messed up the works. From a developer's viewpoint, the single input queue (from all Windows versions prior to NT) was a nightmare; this was the old cooperative multitasking model, where a single badly designed program could hang the entire OS.

          Microsoft addressed all these issues in NT, but IBM refused to budge with OS/2. When Microsoft demonstrated they were serious about NT, everyone gave up on OS/2. It held onto that darned single input queue to the very end!

          1. Alan_Peery

            Re: OS/2 failed for different reasons

            I remember experiencing this stability issues. For a while at Tivoli post the IBM acquisition, my email signature was "I reboot OS2. I reboot OS2. It's my job.". :-)

  7. ecarlseen

    So what we're doing is...

    ... increasing the OS bloat and attack surface to accomplish a task that would be handled almost infinitely better in every possible way through ordinary virtualization that costs somewhere between nothing and close to it.

    Got it.

    1. IGotOut

      Re: So what we're doing is...

      You do know it's not installed and running by default don't you?

      Don't want it? Don't load it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what we're doing is...

      Wouldn't your concern be true of *any* new feature? Well any feature that isn't only about improving security?

      Also *infinitely* better in *every* possible way is rather subjective.....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now why on earth would I want to run Linux under Windows when I always do it the other way around ?

    It's as useful as the Windows Store to me, but hey even hardcore microsofties don't touch that one with a shitty stick.

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Because the Windows store is for consumers. You can install anything that matters directly from Powershell.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Groundhog day?

    Are we in some kind of loop?

    The idea of running some form of Linux in Windows seems to keep coming up, and a {cough} few {cough} of us make it clear we are not interested... to put it nicely.

    1. georgezilla Bronze badge

      Re: Groundhog day?

      Actually no. I have been quiet blunt in expressing my opinion ....

      EFF THAT NOISE!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Groundhog day?

      "The idea of running some form of Linux in Windows seems to keep coming up"

      And the explanation given, including, it seems, from those who see themselves as the target audience, is that they're employed in situations where they have to run Linux to do their job but have to run Windows-only PCs. It may not be a rational solution but the irrationality isn't on the part of the users but their manglements.

      I suppose from MS point of view it enables customers to continue resisting Linux boxes and discovering that they actually work very well and they could actually wean themselves of the MS teat. I can't imagine why they'd put the effort into it otherwise unless unless all that wishful thinking about making Windows a Linux core with a Windows API and interface on top.

      In regard to the last I read elsewhere that this build also includes steps towards separating the Shell, presumably that awful-looking flat thing, from the rest of the OS, just like we've been doing with every Unix-based GUI for years. Strange times.

  10. ColonelDare
    Windows

    Gosh!

    They are catching up with my Raspberry Pi.....

  11. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Stop

    considerably snappier file performance inside Linux

    from being IN WINDOWS? Snappier than WHAT, MS-DOS 1.0 on a FLOPPY?

    EVERY test I've EVER run that compares Windows to Linux or FreeBSD has demonstrated that Linux and FreeBSD file system performance is a *LOT* better than windows, by at least 10%. I haven't run those tests in a while, but a lot of numbers that came out at around the release of Win-10-nic showed that 7 was a tad faster than 10, and significantly faster than 8, and about the same as XP [which is what I ran the tests on, using equivalent hardware].

    The biggest single problem with the windows file system SEEMS to be what I like to call "paranoid cacheing". Linux and FreeBSD will use ALL of the available RAM as a read/write cache if necessary, to limit the amount of actual I/O until it gets efficiently flushed to the disk, thus making the I/O faster overall. When you have to wait for a write to complete, it just slows EVERYTHING down.

    And you see this a LOT with Windows. It's not hard to reproduce, not hard at all. I am not 100% sure that the problem _IS_ "paranoid cacheing" but everything I see tells me that Windows waits for physical write completes, and may even assume it CHANGED ON DISK and then would re-read it back again [instead of leaving it in a cache and relying on it NOT changing], whereas Linux and BSD do asynchronous write cache and generous read cacheing, 'lazily' flushing the cache to disk and journaling the file system to ensure file system integrity if the power goes out or something.

    As a result, _I_ _CALL_ _B.S._ ON THAT CLAIM, Microsoft. Maybe WSL is "snappier" than CYGWIN, or Linux in a VM hosted on a windows box, but _NO_ _WAY_ is it "snappier" than LINUX ITSELF!!!

    In fact, I think windows should run in a VM on Linux so it can get a FILE SYSTEM PERFORMANCE BOOST from the Ext file system. Similar with FreeBSD, hosting windows and NOT the other way around. UFS+J, ZFS file systems, WAY better than anything Micro-shaft can offer.

    /me thought of YSL ties when I saw WSL. Dunno why.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: considerably snappier file performance inside Linux

      The truth of the matter is hidden in the US export regulations. MS Windows has a Mass Market exemption for export. That places a few restrictions on it: It is not allowed to be real-time, it is not allowed to support C4I and it is not allowed to offer advanced networking features. The end result is that MS is forced to slightly cripple the whole thing - ditto with Apple Mac OS.

      They have to do that, since they simply cannot process 1 billion export licences. Read the EAR, ITAR and MTCR for details.

      The result is that open source operating systems - Linux and BSD - will always outperform Windows or MacOS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: considerably snappier file performance inside Linux

      "EVERY test I've EVER run that compares Windows to Linux or FreeBSD has demonstrated that Linux and FreeBSD file system performance is a *LOT* better than windows, by at least 10%. "

      Well there are regular benchmarks out there of Windows 10 versus the latest Ubuntu and Windows 10 generally wins hands down for battery life, GPU and file system performance.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: considerably snappier file performance inside Linux

        Citations please?

        For graphics and battery life then you are probably right given the propitiatory nature of many hardware drivers and APIs needed to make them work to their best.

        For file system and general performance it seems Linux is still a bit better than Windows 10:

        https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=windows10-okt-wsl

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: considerably snappier file performance inside Linux

          Those benchmarks are for WSL. Look at the benchmarks of Windows 10 vs Linux.

  12. leadyrob
    WTF?

    How Big ?!

    > The VM issue also rears its head with the file system which is now a VHD using the ext4 file system and configured with an initial size of 256GB.

    Now I know Windows systems can get bloated but that's a tad large !

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/wsl2-ux-changes

    Ah - should say initial *max* size ...

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