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Microsoft has made it possible to run Linux applications with a GUI on Windows. It is an extension of the existing WSL project, which only allowed command-line tools to be run.

WSLg, as the project is called, allows users to run complete Linux applications on Windows. This should provide a solution for applications that are normally only suitable for Linux operating systems. In a blog post, Microsoft gives Linux IDEs such as gedit as an example. Also, users can easily test applications developed for both Windows and Linux for both platforms, without the hassle of setting up VMs or booting up different machines.

Support for audio and graphics cards

Microsoft has also worked on audio input and output support. Linux applications can therefore play sounds and make use of the microphone. Video card usage is also supported, allowing Linux applications with heavy 3D graphics in OpenGL to run smoothly within WSLg. Microsoft developer Craig Loewen shows some examples of WSLg in a video.

Linux within Windows

WSLg is a further development of Windows Subsystem for Linux, a compatibility layer to make Linux applications work in Windows. Until now, the tool was only suitable for running command-line applications, but over the years, Microsoft has continued to work on the software to enable more features. Since WSL 2 came out in 2019, the software runs on a real Linux kernel on top of the Hyper-V hypervisor.

Installation instructions

Users who want to try out WSLg should make sure they have at least Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21364 running on their machine. If WSL is already installed, all that’s left to do is issue the command to update and it’s possible to run graphical Linux applications on Windows. Full installation instructions can be found on GitHub.

Recent developments

WSL is being increasingly embraced by the Linux community. Earlier this month, Canonical unveiled a trial release of its Ubuntu distro for Windows 10. Earlier this week, Microsoft updated the kernel version in WSL 2 from 5.4.72 to This is the latest Long Term Support variant of Linux.

Tip: Windows 10 gives users access to Linux file systems