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

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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?

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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.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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