Windows Subsystem for Linux gets enterprise friendly and plans a settings interface

Scared of editing a config file? There'll soon be a GUI for that

The Windows Subsystem for Linux is due to receive a user interface for settings as well as management enhancements to make the platform more attractive to enterprise administrators.

While die-hard Linux fans are unlikely to be averse to editing the odd config file or two in order to tweak a configuration, having to dive into the .wslconfig file to fiddle with global settings could be somewhat jarring for users accustomed to a graphical user interface.

According to Craig Loewen, Microsoft Senior Product Manager for the Windows Developer Platform, a user interface is on the way that will break the settings out into categories in a familiar Windows interface if the idea of editing a text file seems daunting.

Loewen noted: "The Linux-style .wslconfig file, text-based approach works well for specific targeted changes. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what settings and input values are available to use in this text-based approach."

That said, the upcoming settings app will still be compatible with the .wslconfig file, meaning that GUI refuseniks can stick with their text editors.

Microsoft also said that Entra ID integration was on the way – starting with a public preview in July or August 2024. Loewen explained that, "As a user this means that Microsoft’s Authentication Library (MSAL) will be able to communicate with WSL in a secure way, letting you automatically log in using your Entra Id credentials on Windows from experiences in WSL like git, or using Microsoft Edge."

Integration with Dev Home is also incoming, and Loewen paid tribute to Carlos Ramirez from Whitewater Foundry – them of Pengwin fame – for his contributions. The courageous can try a preview version via GitHub.

The pre-release version of WSL also includes updates that have been moved from experimental to default settings, including improved networking and the automatic release of stored memory in WSL back to Windows.

In terms of right now, Loewen noted that Microsoft Defender for Endpoint's WSL 2 support had emerged from public preview into general availability, and Intune integration meant that conditional access scenarios can now be enforced based on the state of the Linux distro itself – in a public preview.

He said, "In the future we aim to improve this by allowing you to build your own custom Linux scripts for compliance." ®

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