Microsoft is Adding Linux GUI app support to WSL

With release of Windows 10 Build 18917, Microsoft introduced WSL 2 to Insiders, the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. It ships a real Linux kernel with Windows that will make full system call compatibility possible. WSL 2 is now a part of Windows 10 version 2004. Today, Microsoft has announced a number of improvements that are coming to the app.

Debian Wsl2

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 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).


The improvements WSL 2 receives include the following.

WSL will support GPU Compute workflows

WSL 2 will feature GPU compute support for WSL in Windows 10 Insider builds within the next few months. The user will be able to utilize NVIDIA CUDA and DirectML.

WSL Tensorflow

The team will be releasing a preview package of TensorFlow with a DirectML backend enabling hardware agnostic acceleration of AI & ML workloads across the breadth of Windows hardware – DirectML will also support native Windows too, including TensorFlow on Windows.

Support for Linux graphical user interface (GUI) apps

You will no longer need a third-party X server to launch GUI Linux apps in Windows 10. The user will be able to run Linux GUI apps on his desktop seamlessly with regular Windows apps. It will be possible to use Linux apps that have no Windows ports.

The following screenshot demonstrates Gnome Files running alongside with Outlook in Windows 10, supercharged by a Wayland server and rendered via the RDP.


A new installation method, with defaults to WSL 2

There are improvements made to the wsl.exe command-line tool to help you install WSL faster. Soon you will be able to simply install WSL by entering: wsl.exe --install in your command-line.

WSL Install

Issuing the command wsl.exe --install which will install WSL 2 instead of WSL 1.

Once you update your device to the Windows 10 May 2020 Update you’ll have full support for WSL 2 distros.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

2 thoughts on “Microsoft is Adding Linux GUI app support to WSL”

  1. “These changes are on the WSL’s team roadmap and you can expect to hear more about this work by holiday 2020.”
    Well, so it’s not there yet and only on the roadmap. While native support for Linux GUI applications is a massive positive change, I wouldn’t get too excieted yet. This can take some time or run into issues.

  2. When can we experience “Microsoft is Adding Linux GUI app support to WSL”;
    ‘m eager to use it even if it’s problematic。

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