Microsoft Announces ‘Significant Updates’ to Windows Subsystem for Linux

Microsoft used its Microsoft BUILD conference to announce "significant updates" to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)....
Microsoft Announces ‘Significant Updates’ to Windows Subsystem for Linux
Written by Matt Milano
  • Microsoft used its Microsoft BUILD conference to announce “significant updates” to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

    WSL is a feature that allows users and developers to run a Linux environment within Windows, giving them access to Linux apps and utilities. WSL is a popular option for Windows users that want to run Linux apps, since it doesn’t require a virtual machine.

    According to Product and Program Manager Craig Loewen, WSL has received improvements in the following areas:

    • Memory, storage, and networking
    • An upcoming WSL Settings GUI app
    • WSL Zero Trust
    • Upcoming ability to manage WSL in Dev Home
    • Several miscellaneous features, including Sudo for Windows and “AI powered dev container playground”

    The features should make working with WSL much easier, and improve performance for the subsystem. For example, Loewen says the new memory features will “automatically release stored memory in WSL back to Windows.”

    The upcoming WSL Settings app will greatly improve WSL administration:

    In the past, you would need to edit the contents of WSL’s .wslconfig file to control WSL settings. 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. The WSL Settings app addresses this by breaking out WSL settings into labeled categories, and indicating which ones are available on your machine.

    Similarly, WSL Zero Trust brings important security features to WSL:

    First, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint’s WSL 2 support is now out of public preview and is generally available! You can view the plugin for WSL docs page here to learn more about using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to monitor your WSL environment.

    Secondly, further Intune features are coming to WSL with Linux Intune agent integration. As of today you can manage WSL settings via Intune, and we’re expanding this by also allowing you to enforce conditional access scenarios based on the state of the Linux distro itself. This is available today as a public preview, which first ships with the ability to determine compliance on WSL distro names and versions using custom scripting. In the future we aim to improve this by allowing you to build your own custom Linux scripts for compliance. To learn more and start using the public preview please see this doc page

    Lastly , Microsoft Entra Id will also provide integration with WSL, starting with a public preview in the July and August timeframe. 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. For enterprise admins this improves security by providing a secure channel to acquire and utilize tokens bound to the host device. We’ll be sure to post any news on the public preview, so stay tuned!

    The changes to WSL will be welcome improvements for countless developers who rely on the Linux subsystem.

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