Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is an included feature on Windows 10 that allows you to run a Linux bash terminal. It’s geared towards developers and Microsoft explicitly states it’s not intended to run production workloads, but it’s super easy to install and is accessible and usable by anyone.
Installing the Windows Subsystem for Linux
- Click the Start button and type (then select) Turn Windows Features on or off.
- After the Windows Features window loads, scroll to the bottom and check the box next to Windows Subsystem for Linux.
- Click OK.
The feature will be installed and will require a reboot. After installing the subsystem, you can then install a Linux distribution.
Installing a Linux Distribution
- Click the Start button and type (then select) Microsoft Store.
- Once loaded, search for Linux.
- The results currently have a handy call-out, click Get the apps to select from supported Linux distributions.
Select a distribution and click Get. After installation, you’ll be able to launch it from the store or from the Start menu (e.g. you could just click Start and type Ubuntu to see the launchable app.
All in all, this is a quick way to set up a Linux terminal on a computer running Windows 10. It’s sort of like Cygwin, but it feels way more native. One of the most interesting things to me is how little system resources seem to be taken up running the Linux subsystem. That, and loading up an Ubuntu bash terminal on Windows is just as fast as loading up a bash terminal on a Mac.
A couple notes:
- Local system files are located at /mnt/c (type cd /mnt/c in the bash terminal).
- Linux IDEs (KDE/Gnome/etc.) are not supported.
Read more about Windows Subsystem for Linux at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/faq