Here’s why Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) is great for developers

Maourice Gonzalez

For the better part of their history, Microsoft championed a Windows first approach to application development. But as of late, in an effort to remain competitive and lure developers back to the platform, a series of changes have taken place. Things like a cross-platform .NET framework, cross-platform development support via Xamarin and the creation of Visual Studio for Mac and Visual Studio Code which runs on practically any environment.

The first iteration of the WSL was an amazing achievement, but it did not come without limitations. Great fundamental differences between Linux and Windows got in the way. By virtualizing the Linux Kernel inside a very optimized lightweight VM utilizing Hyper-V, WSL2 bridged that gap and eliminated many of the limitations.

Developing in WSL has never been easier! “The Visual Studio Code Remote – WSL extension” allows you to develop, debug and deploy right from your Windows environment. Docker support has also improved by leaps and bound, now it’s easier than ever to…

run full Linux toolchain for building containers on your local machine, from your IDE running on Windows.

-Simon Ferquel from Docker

This opens a world of possibilities for developers. Hundreds of Linux tools and utilities are now at your disposal. Most tasks which developers had dealt with in the past by having dual boot configurations can now be done from the comfort of their Windows instance using their favorite IDE. Microsoft is committed to making it easy for developers to host and run their applications anywhere. .NET Core, Visual Studio Code and WSL2 are pieces of Microsoft’s evolution to being more open and inclusive. This strategy born out of necessity has proven to be nothing but a good thing for developers!

WSL2 is currently only available to those on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18917 or higher.

For those that need some help getting started, installing the WSL2 is fairly simple. Open an elevated instance of PowerShell by running it as an administrator and run the following command.

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Then head over to the store, search for and install your favorite Linux distribution.

Debian GNU/Linux Installation WSL2

With the release of the Windows Terminal and WSL2, managing your Linux distributions alongside your favorite version of PowerShell becomes a snap! It has never been easier to develop Linux and cross-platform applications from the comfort of the Windows environment you know and love.

For more information on how to get started developing on WSL2 from Windows check out the Visual Studio Code documentation.