Microsoft has announced the availability for Windows 11 of a WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) environment that runs Linux executable files. Unlike the WSL shipments for previous versions of Windows, the Windows 11 option is not built into the system image, but is designed as an app distributed through the Microsoft Store. At the same time, from the point of view of the technologies used, the WSL stuffing has remained the same, only the installation and update method has changed.
It is noted that distribution through the Microsoft Store makes it possible to speed up the delivery of updates and new WSL features, including allowing the installation of new versions of WSL without being tied to the Windows version. For example, once experimental features such as support for graphical Linux applications , GPU-side computing , and disk mounting are ready , the user will be able to access them immediately, without the need to update Windows or use test builds of Windows Insider.
Recall that in a modern WSL environment, instead of an emulator that translates Linux system calls into Windows system calls, an environment with a full-fledged Linux kernel is used. The proposed kernel for WSL is based on Linux kernel 5.10, which has been extended with WSL-specific patches, including optimizations to reduce kernel startup time, reduce memory consumption, return memory freed by Linux processes to Windows, and leave the minimum required set of drivers and subsystems in the kernel.
The kernel runs in a Windows environment using a virtual machine that is already running in Azure. The WSL environment runs in a separate disk image (VHD) with an ext4 file system and a virtual network adapter. User-space components are installed separately and are based on assemblies of various distributions. For example, for installation in WSL, the Microsoft Store directory offers builds of Ubuntu , Debian GNU / Linux, Kali Linux , Fedora , Alpine , SUSE, and openSUSE .