WSL2 will ship with Windows 10 version 2004, with kernel updates via Windows Update

Windows 10 Linux Icon

Microsoft today announced that WSL 2 will soon be available as part of Windows 10, version 2004. Also, the company changes the way the Linux kernel receives updated.

With the 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. This is the first time a Linux kernel is shipped with Windows.

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).

With version 2004, Microsoft has removed the Linux kernel from the Windows OS image and instead will be delivering it to your PC via Windows Update, the same way that 3rd party drivers (like graphics, or touchpad drivers). You can manually check for new kernel updates by clicking the ‘Check for Updates’ button, or you can let Windows keep you up to date just like normal.

For of the initial release of Windows 10, version 2004, and in the latest Windows Insiders slow ring preview build, you will temporarily need to manually install the Linux kernel, and will receive an update in a few months that will add automatic install and servicing capabilities.  Microsoft will issue a patch later to ensure that all users in the initial general release of WSL2 will be serviced via this new dynamic model.

Temporary experience of manually installing the Linux kernel in Windows 10, version 2004 and Windows Insiders slow ring

After updating to Windows 10 build 19041.153, when you run any of the following commands:

  • wsl (If a WSL2 distro is your default distro)
  • wsl --set-version <Distro> 2, – wsl --set-default-version 2
  • wsl --import and wsl --export targeting WSL2

You’ll see a one-time message instructing you to update your kernel. It will instruct you to go to the link:

Follow the instructions to download the MSI package, run it to install your Linux kernel, and you’ll be finished and ready to use WSL2. When automatic install and update of the Linux kernel is added you’ll start getting automatic updates to your kernel instantly.

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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.

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