One of the more surprising (and geeky) features Microsoft introduced with the launch of Windows 10 was something called Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Basically, it’s a tool that lets you run a Linux-based operating system such as Ubuntu within Windows. Up until now the only way to do that was to enable Developer Mode from the Windows settings.

But starting with the new Windows 10 preview build that launched this week, you don’t need to toggle Developer Mode to use WSL.

To be clear, the feature is still pretty much aimed at developers. Microsoft only officially supports running Linux in a command-line environment, although some users have figured out how to enable apps that have a graphical user interface to run (and some have even gotten full desktop environments to work).

The idea is to let developers run the command-line tools they’re familiar with straight from Windows, so they don’t have to switch computers or operating systems to go back and forth between Linux and Windows tools.

But Microsoft officials say that they’re confident WSL is stable enough to take off the training wheels.

Since it’s still a feature most Windows 10 users probably don’t want or need, it’s still turned off by default. But you can enable WSL by checking the box for “Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta”) in the “Turn Windows features on or off” menu.

In addition to making it a little easier for anyone to give Linux-on-Windows a try, Microsoft will soon broaden the list of supported Linux-based operating systems to include SUSE and Fedora as well as Ubuntu.

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13 replies on “Now you can run Linux on Windows 10 without developer mode”

  1. This is NOT Linux; at best, it’s GNU/Windows. Linux IS the kernel. Android is Linux, WSL is not. WSL is basically Microsoft’s answer to WINE, which is obviously not Windows the same way this crap isn’t Linux.

    I wish technical sites would quit spreading FUD like this. We know better, and yet we blindly play along. Now “Linux” is vulnerable to NSA exploits, trojans, viruses, and all that other stuff we like to brag about handling better than MS. Joe blow consumer doesn’t know the difference, so Linux takes the blame.

    No WannaCry on REAL Linux. Just saying 😉

  2. WSL is a nice Windows feature but whenever I can, I just install a full Linux instance and get rid off Windows completely on the machine.

    1. Wow stop the press, that’s clearly a big deal!

      Seriously, no one cares. The rest of us do run Windows, and find this article interesting.

  3. So, anything you do within WSL is subject to tracking, surveillance, data-snatching. Hoping other Linux developers are brighter than this.

      1. According to Microsoft that they are collecting your full browser search history including identifiers as well as a massive amount of other ‘telemetry’ which is also a blatant breach of privacy.

        The Chinese government banned Windows 8 because of the inbuilt back doors and spyware installed on Windows 8. Microsoft removed these features and produced Windows 10 Chinese Government Edition which doesn’t contain spyware and doesn’t contain back doors. A pity other governments didn’t demand the same protection for their own citizens.

        The Patriot Act gives the NSA the right to bulk data collection any time they like from tech companies with direct links to these tech companies. This means the NSA is reading all the ‘telemetry’ from Microsoft whenever they like which will be all the time.

        Ignorance is bliss. It doesn’t pay to be too blissful.

        1. And they (the Chinese government) replaces it with their own tracking. Honestly do you think the Chinese (Communist) government is that innocent?

          1. They don’t have to install tracking software on their version of Windows 10 – they already monitor their networks thoroughly to restrict unwanted actions including Virtual Private Networks and Proxies.

            If they wanted to install their own spyware they could do it with ANY operating system. The point is that they don’t want to install a version of Windows 10 that automatically and substantially spies on their government officials and citizens on behalf of a foreign government.

            Whatever else they are, they aren’t that stupid.

  4. Progress. It’s things like this that make me slightly less mad at MS. It’s still a struggle, but I have to appreciate it when they’re doing things that genuinely benefit the users. Of course, this is also good for them, to keep more developers from jumping ship completely, but giving more people access to Linux is a good thing.

    1. The best access to Linux is to install it in a virtual machine or install it without Windows 10.

      I’m running several Windows machines but its great to have the full functionality of a Linux system.

      You can’t beat a full installation of Linux.

      1. No argument there (I have dual boot on my desktop), but, ceteris paribus, it’s better to also have Linux on Windows rather than not.

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