Microsoft plans support for GPU acceleration and Linux GUI apps with WSL 2
Good news for Linux fansBy Cohen Coberly
In context: Though it's taken quite a while, Microsoft has finally begun to repair its reputation within the Linux community. Indeed, recently, the tech giant went so far as to admit that it was on the "wrong side of history" concerning open-source software in general.
However, Microsoft has more to offer Linux fans than empty words. Later in May, the company will give its Windows Subsystem for Linux a helpful boost with a handful of new features. These features include full system call compatibility, and the ability to run a complete Linux kernel within Windows (it will still use a 'lightweight' virtual machine, but not a traditional one).
This update will be called WSL 2, and it will be a separate project compared to WSL 1. WSL 1 will not be deprecated, and it will continue to function for users who may prefer it for certain use cases. For example, if you're a software developer with critical files that "must be stored" in the Windows file system, WSL 1 may be the better choice.
However, by and large, WSL 2 will be an improvement over its predecessor. Over time, Microsoft even plans to enable GPU acceleration, which should boost performance considerably: according to the company, there will be no resource limitations on Linux apps when compared to their Windows counterparts. This hardware acceleration should rollout to Windows Insiders sometime in the next few months.
Microsoft is also planning official WSL2 support for Linux GUI Apps, though it sounds like this particular feature is a ways off -- more details about how the functionality will work and when it might arrive will come later in the year. Regardless, it's nice to see Microsoft take Linux and its userbase more seriously, and we hope to see further improvements arrive for WSL over the coming years.
If you want to give WSL a shot, detailed installation instructions can be found over in Microsoft's official WSL documentation.