Windows Subsystem for Linux

After a couple of months of being GA (Generally Available) I was in the WSL bandwagon.

I started using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for a lot of good reasons, especially in my role as System Engineer. I work on different environments and across various operating systems and in my world virtualization and containers are the rule. My tools of trade are Powershell, BaSH and Python on the so having all of them in the same Operating System is really handy.

I attended Meetup events where WSL was presented, I’ve presented a brownbag myself on WSL, and recently as Techsnips Contributor I’ve create a small video on how to install it. So I’ll try in this article to give you a brief introduction.

What is TechSnips? –

TechSnips is an IT career development platform that provides free learning content (not training!) to people in information technology (IT). We provide short, 1-10 minute screencasts or snips on a range of technology-related topics like cloud computing, programming, system administration and a whole lot more.

What is WSL in a nutshell?

It’s a linux distribution that is been packaged in a modern app (via Windows Store) that runs on top of the windows kernel. In short if we want to keep it really simple, it’s an Operating System in an app format.

If you start ask yourself why you should ever need it, in a world of Virtual Machines and Container technologies, well… you’ll soon realized that these are very different technologies. It’s not better or worse, it’s another approach that have pros and cons.

Ok, got it! But where it sits between VMs and Containers?

If VMs are abstraction from the hardware and containers are an abstraction from the OS, WSL is a Containerized OS that sits on top on the Windows Kernel, but compared with VM and Containers has access to the Windows File System providing a good integration under the usual ACLs of Windows plus all the security features of a linux OS itself, so it’s not isolated and that’s one of its main strengths.

WSL runs under the usual user mode, plus has SUDO on the WSL side and can start with RunAs if needed on the windows side.

Where it shines?

On all basic implementations where the requirements are to run on linux OS with a some type of integration with the Windows OS. You can ran your favorite distro (debian, ubuntu, kali, opensuse, etc…) and use your package manager to install your favorite applications.

If your daily job requires automation or scripting most probably you run bash, python or powershell and you can start to using those tools and setup WSL in minutes.

How To install it? 

Is it just for Developers?

No, it’s mostly for CLI lovers, but it’s not just aimed for developers.

Even if it’s easy to setup XMING to run apps with a full and rich GUI.

Wrap Up

So I don’t need VM or containers if I’m using WSL, right?  It depends on your needs. In my case I use all of them (VMs, Containers and WSL).
But for most users WSL is another option to consider and especially if your requirements are really basic can be the best choice.

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