Microsoft enables Linux GUI applications on Windows 10 for developers

Microsoft has started giving Windows 10 testers access to Linux GUI apps. The first preview of Windows Insiders’ GUI application support is available today, allowing developers to run GUI editors, tools, and applications to create and test Linux applications. It’s a major extension of Microsoft’s Windows subsystem for Linux (WSL), after the company added a full-fledged Linux kernel to Windows 10 last year.

While it was possible to run Linux GUI applications in Windows using a remote X server, official support from Microsoft also means that there is GPU hardware acceleration for applications and tools to run smoothly. Audio and microphone support is also included as standard, so Linux developers can easily test or run video players and calling applications.


Linux GUI applications running on Windows.
Photo: Microsoft

All of this is enabled without requiring Windows users to use the X11 redirect and without having to manually start the X server. Microsoft automatically starts distributing the companion system when you try to run a Linux GUI app, it includes Wayland, X server, a pulse audio server, and everything else required to run it in Windows. Once the application and WSL are terminated, this special distribution will also stop. All of these components combine to make it easy to run Linux GUI applications alongside normal Windows applications.

Microsoft is also testing a new economic mode for managing Windows tasks in this latest beta. It is an experimental feature that allows you to manage process resources within the task manager. It’s really designed to limit apps that suddenly eat up a lot of system resources, and it can come in handy when you want to pause an app.

The new economic position of job management.
Photo: Microsoft

If you are interested in testing Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 or this new Task Manager feature, you should install the latest one. Windows Insider Build 21364 from Dev. Be warned: they’re designed as developer buildings, not for the devices you depend on every day.

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