The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) allows you to install a Linux environment within Windows and run some Linux applications without the need to reboot or switch computers. Right now only command line apps are officially supported, but in the future Microsoft plans to add support for desktop apps with a graphical user interface.
In the meantime, the company continues to add new WSL features — and the latest Windows 10 preview release brings a few of them including easier installation and updating of Linux distributions, and support for Linux applications that leverage your computer’s graphics processor.
Microsoft says its new GPU compute feature allows Linux binaries to use your system’s GPU for things like machine learning or other data science applications that can often run faster by using GPU resources than they wold if they were restricted to using just a CPU.
Microsoft says the addition of GPU compute support has been the most user-requested feature since the first version of WSL was made available in 2016.
The Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20150 also brings two new commands to WSL:
- wsl –install
- wsl –update
The first allows you to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux with a single command, while the second lets you manage the Linux kernel version used by any Linux distributions running on your computer using WSL 2.
Right now you’ll need to be a member of the Windows Insider program in the Dev Channel to try them out, but the new features should eventually graduate to the Beta Channel, then the Release Preview Channel, and then eventually to an upcoming stable version of Windows 10 that will be available for all users.
Since this is the first Windows 10 21H1 preview though, it’s likely we won’t see the latest features until sometime in the first half of 2021.
Other updates in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20150 include an update to the Bing Maps app that uses map data from TomTom, the start of a rollout for a new search box in the Settings app, and various bug fixes.