January 25, 2018

Hands-on Test of Windows Subsystem for Linux

If you don't want to do without the main advantages of Linux on the Windows platform, the Windows Subsystem for Linux offers another option. We delve the depths of the Linux underworld and explain how you can optimize the subsystem.

The new Linux subsystem [1] has been around since the Windows 10 Creators Update; according to Microsoft, it can get by without a resource-consuming virtual machine (VM) and configuration. It is also said to offer a more native Linux feeling than the previous Cygwin [2] Linux environment. Linux users have used Cygwin on Windows for years, for example, to automate processes with shell scripts (e.g., mass Git checkouts), but it does mean recompiling Linux programs for Windows.

A look at the subsystem is worthwhile because of the surprisingly lightweight, process-based virtualization concept that just might catch on. In this article, I explain the limitations of the subsystem compared with native Linux and Cygwin, and I offer a number of customization tips that help make the subsystem fit for everyday use.

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