The move marks the first time a full-blown Linux kernel has been included as a component of Windows
Microsoft said it’s planning to ship a custom-built Linux kernel in Windows 10, the first time a Linux kernel will be included as a component in Windows.
The company announced at its Build conference that the kernel would form the basis of a major update to its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), a compatibility layer used for running Linux executable code natively on Windows 10.
The current version of WSL uses a Linux-compatible kernel interface that contains no Linux kernel code.
Users can run a GNU user space on top of WSL, but no userspace binaries are included with Windows, and this is to continue with WSL 2, said Jack Hammons, programme manager for Microsoft’s LInux Systems Group, in a blog post.
Users can install a userspace from the Windows Store, which lists distributions including Ubuntu, SUSE Linux and Fedora, or can “sideload” their own distribution package.
The kernel, which is based on version 4.19, the latest long-term stable release, is to ship to beta testers this summer, Hammons said.
“This is the culmination of years of effort from the Linux Systems Group as well as multiple other teams across Microsoft,” he wrote.
Microsoft’s previous Linux moves include adding a Bash shell and native OpenSSH to Windows 10.
The kernel is expected to improve WSL’s performance and memory usage, Hammons said.
It is to be fully open source, with Microsoft planning to contribute its changed back to the developer community and allow developers to create their own WSL kernel.
Also at the Build conference Microsoft announced Windows Terminal, a command-line application for Windows that brings together environments including WSL, PowerShell and Cmd.
It supports multiple tabs, theming and customisation, as well as emoji and GNU-based text rendering.
Microsoft said the app would be made available mid-June.