Linux apps with GUI also come for Windows WSL

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Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, or WSL 2 for short, was also discussed at Microsoft's online Build conference this year: the Windows runtime for Linux applications is augmented with hardware GPU acceleration and allows you to run Linux applications with a graphical interface. [19659002] To do this, the company is introducing a new kernel driver for Linux called dxgkrnl that allows communication with the physical GPU, even on multiple GPUs. Applications running in a Linux environment thus have the same access to the GPU as native Windows software, without separate GPU partitions or restrictions. GPU sharing between Windows and Linux apps is dynamic, tailored to current resource needs – accordingly, if a Linux application uses the GPU alone, all its resources are available.

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Building on the above innovations, WSL 2 also has access to the full-featured D3D12 API, also without restrictions, with the same functionality as Windows. The runtime environment also finds its way into the DxCore API, the latter being a simplified version of dxgi in which the company has replaced legacy components with modern versions. As promised by Microsoft, the APIs come turnkey as part of Windows without installing additional packages or customizing a particular Linux distribution – however, support is currently limited to glibc-based distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Centos or SUSE. In addition to the above, Microsoft has also ported the Microsoft DirectML machine learning API to WSL – the latter builds on the D3D12 API and focuses primarily on functionality for beginners and students in the field.

GUI Linux applications will soon arrive into WSL, so developers don't necessarily have to rely on command-line apps to run their proven IDEs or other graphical Linux applications alongside Windows apps without having to deploy a third-party X server – although for more details the company has not yet announced the project. WSL 2 and its new features are expected to come with Windows 10 May 2020 Update.


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