In the latest version of the Windows 10 Insider Preview release Microsoft unveiled their Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Unlike the previous version WSL 2 includes a full Linux kernel tailored by Microsoft to run more Linux programs than ever before.

Microsoft says in their blog post

“WSL 2 is a new version of the architecture that powers the Windows Subsystem for Linux to run ELF64 Linux binaries on Windows. This new architecture, which uses a real Linux kernel, changes how these Linux binaries interact with Windows and your computer’s hardware, but still provides the same user experience as in WSL 1 (the current widely available version). WSL 2 delivers a much faster file system performance and full system call compatibility, which lets you run more applications like Docker!”

You can experiment with it today, although you’ll have to join the Windows Insider program for Windows 10 on your PC. Microsoft command line tools for developers has instructions on how to install and configure the new Linux Kernel. Microsoft spoke about WSL 2 and a full Linux Kernel at Build in May.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 uses Hyper-V features to create a virtual machine with the Linux Kernel. The Hyper-V virtual machine will automatically launch at startup and use a bit of memory in the background, but Microsoft promises a small memory footprint. What surprised me is Microsoft has mentioned that even users of Windows 10 Home will get access to the full Linux Kernel even though Hyper-V is not a feature of Windows 10 Home. I found that to be an interesting note and I am not sure why Microsoft is doing this but it’s interesting to see how that works out for them I am not sure many home users will use the Linux Kernel but you never know.

I think giving users and developers a full Linux Kernel is the right move by Microsoft many developers and tech people use Linux daily and this will be a huge help to them and keep them possibly from buying Linux computers, Chromebooks or Macs.