Microsoft Adds Linux Kernel to Windows – How Does this Affect You?

Windows Kernel Featured

Linux is no stranger to Windows. In the past we’ve reported on how Linux was implemented into Windows 10. Recently, Microsoft has gone the additional step and announced an update for the implementation of a whole Linux kernel to the operating system. But what does this mean, and – most importantly – what does it mean for Windows users?

Why Microsoft Is Adding a Linux Kernel

Windows Kernel Tux

Again, Linux isn’t totally new on Windows. For a while now Windows 10 had what’s called the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). WSL focused on allowing Windows to run Linux tools such as Bash. It didn’t allow people to actually boot up a full-blown Linux GUI such as KDE, but it did give Windows users a way to run Linux tools without the need of a virtual machine.

Now Microsoft is aiming to get a full kernel into Windows. This will call for a new version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, predictably called WSL2. It’s the first time that a Linux kernel has been put into Windows and marks the next advancement of Linux support within Windows.

Which Kernel Is Being Used?

Windows Kernel Download

Linux enthusiasts may be disappointed to hear that Windows isn’t planning to use a currently existing kernel. They’re making their own variant which is then implemented into Windows.

However, WSL2 won’t come with its own userspace; you can customize which one is installed in WSL2. This gives some freedom to customize your WSL2, even if it’s not as much as some users may like.

Is This a Virtual Machine for Linux?

If you’re looking to run a full Linux desktop on Windows, you’ll be disappointed with this update! While you’ll be able to run Linux in this update, it won’t be like a virtual machine. However, if you want to run specific Linux tools within Windows itself, you’ll probably find WSL2 a worthwhile addition.

Is This a Sign of Windows Fighting Linux?

Windows Kernel Microsoft

When we last touched upon this topic, we asked the question if it was a sign that Windows was trying to eliminate Linux — or at least`1 combat it. At the time it felt like Windows was taking a prod at Linux; now, with this entire kernel custom-made by Microsoft themselves, this feeling is stronger than ever.

By implementing a kernel into Windows 10, Microsoft is probably hoping to stop people dual-booting with Linux. Why swap between Windows and Linux when you can just do everything on WSL2? It’s a convenient way for someone to use Linux tools within Windows without the need of a VM or dual-boot.

However – much like we said last time – this change is unlikely to convert any Linux users into Windows. Linux users have more of a problem with Windows 10 itself and are unlikely to install Windows 10 over their favorite distro. In fact, with the recent Windows update facade, Linux users are probably far and away from adopting Windows 10!

Kernel Panic

With Windows 10 opening up to Linux, the next update will contain an entire custom-made kernel. While it’s not a full-blown distro, it is a useful tool for running Linux tools in Windows – even if some Linux users feel as if Microsoft is trying to combat the OS.

Do you think this is a case of Microsoft fighting off its competition? Or is this simply a convenient tool with no malcontent? Let us know below.

28 comments

  1. “Do you think this is a case of Microsoft fighting off its competition?”
    Based on Microsft’s history since the mid 80’s, this looks like a feeble attempt at “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish”. A leopard does not change its spots and Microsoft does not change its SOP.

    1. Finally! Now I can get a virus using Linux! I sure have missed that the last 10 years!

  2. I think Microsoft has figured out it can’t beat Linux on anything but the desktop, and there not with developers, but it is certainly trying to take Linux over and monetize Linux. Microsoft cares about one thing, M-O-N-E-Y.

    1. “it is certainly trying to take Linux over and monetize Linux”
      Because Linux is so decentralized, taking it over would be like trying to nail Jello to a wall. SCO tried to “take Linux over” and failed dismally. MS is trying to monetize Linux by including it in Windows. However, the question is how many new customers will that gain them? Will it be worth the money expended on WSL or will MS throw in the towel in a few years?

      1. IBM bought Red Hat, for 33 billion. MS is now a kernel contributor and professes to “Love Linux”. Would Shuttleworth sell Ubuntu to MS? What about Debian?
        While I agree with you that Linux is decentralized, that is not saying MS would not try to take it over, as they are not going to eliminate it as they have already failed at that. MS is losing the server, phone and developer war, so they have motivation to try.

  3. Dragonmouth is exactly correct. The unethical PoS known as Microshaft is just trying to make itself into an actual decent OS and is abusing the ‘Free as in beer’ concept of taking Linux and making it their own. The money will be thrown around for the next ten years until M$ can attempt to taked it to court and say ‘It’s ours!’, kinda like those useless air-wasters SCO tried to do 20 years ago (15 years?).

    Microsoft is crapware and run by unethical, air-wasting turds and used by sub-morons (for the most part) who can barely turn their systems on, much less use anything more than e-mail and play games.

  4. It’s still Windows. :(

  5. Meh, it’s a welcome addition but as for practicality it is like a clown car with train wheels added. It could ride the rails, but you’re probably better off taking an actual train. As for multi-booting I dropped windows for Linux due to performance and the feeling windows had a life of its own. Both setups were pretty much identical software wise, as this experiment took place on my Win10 work laptop.

    1. I quit dual booting Linux and Windows because the only time I went on Windows was to update the Windows OS, update the Windows anti-virus software and update the Windows spyware software. Found Windows pretty much a total waste of time after installing Linux.

  6. Microsoft including the Linux kernel seems more like a shot at MacOS, than Linux. Proper command line tools are a major time saver in any OS. Maybe Microsoft seen how painful Powershell is to use, and decided to compete with the rest of the OS’s. If Microsoft wanted to kill Linux, they’d make Windows open source.

    1. “If Microsoft wanted to kill Linux, they’d make Windows open source.”
      MS will can’t do that because opening up the source would reveal all the code stolen from other companies/projects.
      MS will not do that because making Windows open source will reveal all the backdoors and spyware that is built in.
      MS will not do that because they would lose control of Windows. Imagine all the independent programmers cleaning up and improving the Windows code. Mr. Bill would not be able to recognize the code.
      MS will not do that because it would effectively put them out of business.

      Of course, if the Windows code were cleaned up, optimized, its security routines tightened up, spyware and backdoors removed, with the size of the installed user base, there is a very good chance that Windows would kill Linux. However, there is a higher probability of humans meeting a benevolent alien race than of MS open sourcing Windows.

  7. Linux kernal has mostly been on store for more than a year now coz I had downloaded it last year, so I guess this like a 1+ year delayed news

  8. OS Wars !!

  9. Yes, this is an attempt by M$ to take over or destroy Linux, just as they have been trying to do for years! No one with any brains at all will touch the Windows 10 Spy/Virus with a 10 meter cattle prod!! Every big update and many of the smaller ones break things and cause major headaches, you can’t shut off the embedded spyware, M$ wants to make everyone their digital slaves!

  10. Hmmm, in the last week a state in India and the government of South Korea both announced switches to Linux.

    WSL may give more people a taste of Linux. At least more people have actually heard the name and found out it will run on their machine.

    1. “WSL may give more people a taste of Linux.”
      A taste of Linux with a heavy does of Microsoft seasoning.

  11. My best hope is that that Microsoft will not kill the best OS. And the best OS is Linux, hes advantage is because it offers a difference. Windows is a monopoly dictated OS. And it is not good OS it is just stupid dictator. Sorry Bill but it is true. Linux like Free BSD and other is alternative. Life and world without the choice is a DICTATION of one side … sorry for may English. :)

  12. I feel that this is just a huge waste of time. While Windows developers might find this useful? A Linux SysAdmin wouldn’t want to bother with it. Most Linux admins run Windows in a VM in order to keep their systems protected, I have been in the I.T. industry since ’99 and I can state without hesitation that Microsoft? only does things…and makes moves that benefit Microsoft and Microsoft ONLY! And while a few programmers and developers might find this “Windows Custom Linux Kernel” useful? a majority of them won’t feel the need, nor have the business use-case to touch it….and why?

    Simply because, Linux doesn’t need Microsoft anymore. Back in it’s youth…when it was a fledgling project, there were tons of things Microsoft had, that the few Linux users wanted or needed….from desktop configuration files to editors to codecs and imaging software etc..etc. Microsoft decided they didn’t want to share any of it. So what did the Open Source Community do? They drank tankfuls of coffee…..stayed up all night…. collaborated with their peers…..and developed their OWN wares. Now?….because Linux has “everything we need” baked into it….and because Microsoft doesn’t want to be left behind….they “Love Linux”? Yeah….I’ll BET they do!….they will attach themselves to it like a leech….and see how much money they can scrape from it. All the while pushing nonsensical and pretty much useless software on the FOSS community…in an attempt to make others feel that their love is genuine. Tell you what……you want to convince the world that you’re REALLY behind open source and all that it stands for?….well instead of “Calculator” why not open source Microsoft Office?…..oh….wait….we ALREADY have office suites!….MORE THAN ONE!….I guess you could use Visual Studio’s code editor as your “evidence” that you’re real…but there again…we have
    Geany
    Ninja-IDE
    Gnome Builder
    VSCodium
    NotepadQQ
    GEdit
    Kate – Anjuta et Al.
    and tons more of just about everything!
    So…..for me?…this matters not at all. As a Linux user both at work and at home …I’m done with Windows….and slowly but surely ….lots of other people are turning to Linux as well,(there are various people at work who are asking me to install it on their home computers)… because of Microsoft’s horrible interface, their insistence on installing things you never asked for or ever use (Candy Crush Saga…AGAIN!?…even though you’ve removed it before the last update!)

    Just sad that the once King of Computing….now has to get down on bended one and admit that their totalitarian way of dealing with people is flawed, and that a global community cannot be stopped….ever…no matter what you try to do!

    1. “Just sad that the once King of Computing”
      In the country of the blind, one-eyed man is king.
      When Windows was the only game in town for home and SOHO computers, Microsoft was king. But once other O/Ss (Linux, BSD, OS/X) caught up in capabilities, the king became just one of the guys.

  13. I don’t care for it. I just run Linux in a VM while using Win10 as host.

  14. It is puzzling a bit to me. At home I run Linux on everything. From my server, to the desktops, to the laptops, embedded devices, SBCs, etc. I get to pick my UI, and in some cases, I just use SSH as my UI. Choices! In fact, to me, this is one of Linux’s greatest strengths in the UI isn’t ‘forced’ upon us users. As a Linux user, I certainly would not go ‘Great, Windows has a sub-set of Linux now’…. Why would I pay for a copy a Windows with this capability and be forced to still use their UI? Doesn’t compute. Or even if Linux becomes the kernel used by Windows … What is the point? I already run Linux everywhere and have been for a lot of years now. Point is, the WSL must not be pointed at me as a user, as I really don’t get it.

    That said, all we use is Windows at work :( . I was just upgraded from Win7 to Win10. Don’t really care for the UI… but stuck with it. As a developer though, I write programs that run on Windows. So the Linux tools wouldn’t help much that I can see. I do write some Python applications, but it is already cross platform.

    Seems to me it comes down to a marketing ploy to say that “see? We have our feet in both camps, and you don’t have to go any place but M$ for your OS needs. Thinking of switching to Linux? You don’t have too. We got you covered. Just pay us a subscription fee each year (and virus protection, and Office fees, etc…) and we’ll be there to help you.” Anyway, I see it as a way to slow down true Linux adoption in my mind…

    1. I agree most of us Linux users would have no use for Windoze at home, even with a Linux kernel. I could be wrong, but I have to think this is aimed at developers. that have pretty much switched to Linux.

  15. Microsoft is just trying to get rid of Windows and facilitating linux migration to current developers.
    Neither windows no linux desktop have any future.
    The web and Android won the battle. Microsoft is focusing on the Azure cloud, Office365 and trying not to get lost into the IA world (where they are years behind Google).
    Microsoft is not an strong company any more.
    It can not waste resources in keeping up developing windows. The margin of profit is mostly zero and nobody is developing native windows apps. Compare for example with the recent anouncement done in the Linux Desktop (Fedora) running Android apps natively (with full 3D acceleration). Sudenly Linux will be full of native apps and millions of developers “for free”, while still being and excelent OS for servers and cloud.

  16. Too late. II’ve changed to linux years ago… :)

  17. To the moderators: Where is my comment?

  18. The biggest issue I see is what have they changed to the kernel? I’ts just like they did when they tried to appease the Open Document community and came out with their own version, docx. It’s not compatible with odt, and it’s MicroShaft proprietary. And it changes every time they bring out a new version of Office so you can’t use the documents you create on THEIR older versions. So much for open documents. That’s what seems to me to be their goal, they have their kernel and you will need their applications to run under it. Their version of all the open source applications.

  19. “Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish”…that’s what this looks like to me. Remember that Microsoft folks are still filing lawsuit after lawsuit for “patent infringment” and don’t want to tell the actual Linux kernel developers what the patents are. Rather, they keep that list under NDA and sue OEM’s who use Linux (e. g. Samsung, TomTom, and so on). They won’t even tell Linus Torvalds or the rest of the Linux kernel dev team, and that right there should tell you how much Microsoft “loves Linux”. Right. If the Microsoft folks really “love Linux”, they’ll stop this patent lawsuit garbage and just come clean with the list of patents that they claim.

    I don’t trust the Microsoft folks. I will continue to use Free Software (mostly GNU/Linux and OpenBSD) because the developers respect my freedom.

    –SYG

  20. “Linux enthusiasts may be disappointed to hear that Windows isn’t planning to use a currently existing kernel. They’re making their own variant which is then implemented into Windows.”
    And this is the crux of the matter. MS will be using their own version of the Linux kernel, re-written to incorporate all the capabilities(?) of Windows. The kernel will spy on users, the kernel will call home, the kernel will have security holes. Welcome to the Brave New World of Microsoft Linux!

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