Introduced in the upcoming major Windows 10 update, the Windows Subsystem for Linux feature in version 2 and will remain optional. The big change concerns the WSL2 update: it will now be done via Windows Update.
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 (WSL2) will be included in the next Windows 10 20H1 (2004) release, noting that this time updates will be handled by Windows Update, not the app . As our colleagues at PCWorld already pointed out in their test of Windows 10 20H1, the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 is an optional feature that the user can add to Windows, or ignore completely.
As the publisher explains, “The Windows Subsystem for Linux allows developers to run a GNU/Linux environment (including most utilities, applications and command-line tools) directly on Windows, without modification and while avoiding the overload of a virtual machine”. One of the major new features of WSL2 over WSL1 is that WSL2 now runs on its own Linux kernel. This change should result in better performance.
Microsoft branch Windows Update on WSL2
Previously, the kernel was delivered at the same time as Windows, in the Windows Insider builds that our colleagues used for their tests. Now, in the 2004 version of Windows 10, Microsoft is announcing that the Linux kernel – which again remains an optional feature – will be split off and pushed to the user’s PC via Windows Update if they have WSL2 enabled. Subsequent updates will also be managed by Windows Update. “This change should improve the agility and flexibility of Linux kernel updates in WSL2,” said Craig Loewen, a program manager at Microsoft responsible for Windows Subsystem for Linux, in a blog post. Windows Update, the mechanism used to update Windows, already has a feature to update firmware drivers and some device drivers, if supported. Now, Microsoft will also use Windows Update to update Linux.
Microsoft is adopting a strategy similar to that already implemented for a number of applications in the Microsoft Store: separating them from Windows itself, to develop and update them at their own pace. Importantly, updating the Linux kernel via WSL also allows Microsoft to manage all necessary Linux kernel updates in the background. “Our end goal is to be able to make this change transparently, meaning that the Linux kernel will be up to date without the user needing to worry about it,” Loewen wrote. “By default, the process will be entirely managed by Windows, as is the case with all regular machine updates.” It should be noted that only the Linux kernel will be updated via Windows Update. “The ‘apt-get update’ or ‘apt-get upgrade’ commands, which are used to fetch new packages, will not be affected,” Loewen confirmed via Twitter.