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Windows Subsystem for Linux now packaged as a Microsoft Store app

Nothing says 'We love open source and want it to be available in Windows' like only delivering updates from a closed digital tat bazaar

Microsoft has made its Store the home of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

"The Store version of WSL is now the default version of WSL" wrote Craig Loewen, a program manager for the Windows Developer Platform, in a Tuesday post.

"The in-Windows version of WSL will still receive critical bug fixes, but the Store version of WSL is where new features and functionality will be added," Loewen explained.

WSL is an app in the Microsoft Store that lets you run actual Linux that integrates directly into Windows

The Store version will even be the default for those using the wsl –install command from the terminal. Executing the command will automatically install the Store version of WSL. It will no longer enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux optional component, nor install the WSL kernel or WSLg MSI packages, as they are no longer needed .

Loewen admits that this is all a little confusing because Microsoft offers two types of WSL distros: WSL 1 which isn't really a VM and doesn't offer the full Linux kernel, and WSL 2 which is a full Linux VM. "There is also the 'in-Windows' version of WSL as a Windows Optional component, and WSL in the Microsoft Store as the 'Store version of WSL'," Loewen clarified.

"With this update our goal is to simplify our versioning story. Since WSL 2 is the default distro type, and the Store version of WSL is the default install location, you can just say: WSL is an app in the Microsoft Store that lets you run actual Linux that integrates directly into Windows."

News that the Store-bought version of WSL has become Microsoft's main play came with a change in status for the software – from preview to general availability – plus work to ensure it functions on both Windows 10 and 11.

The update also adds the following features:

  • --enable-wsl1 Enables WSL 1 support during the install of the Microsoft Store version by also enabling the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” optional component;
  • --no-distribution Do not install a distribution when installing WSL;
  • --no-launch Do not automatically launch the distro after install;
  • --web-download Download the most recent version of WSL from the internet instead of the Microsoft Store.
  • wsl.exe --update Check for, and apply updates to, the WSL MSIX package from the Microsoft Store, rather than updating the WSL kernel MSI;
  • When running WSL using the Windows optional component version, once a week you will see a message on startup indicating that you can upgrade to the Store version by running wsl --update.

Other additions include the option to adopt system and the ability to run Linux GUI apps under Windows 10.

While the Store is now Microsoft's preferred and default method to access and install WSL, the project's GitHub page still offers releases that can be installed manually. ®

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