Windows Subsystem for Linux

What Does Windows Subsystem for Linux Mean?

The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a type of resource within the Windows operating system that allows users to run Linux command lines on a computer with a Windows operating system installed. This enables developers and others to work “natively” in a Linux environment when languages like Ruby or Python are more conveniently utilized through the Linux interface.


Techopedia Explains Windows Subsystem for Linux

The Windows Subsystem for Linux uses an application called Bash.exe – this opens a Linux dialog box inside of the Windows operating system interface. One easy way to think of this is as a “shell” application that opens up within Windows, or alternately, as a dual operating system interface that acts as a “window within a window.” This type of internal OS interface system emerged early in the Windows era when Windows systems would allow users to get into a DOS command line system with a similar internal application. This made users more familiar with the idea of running a different operating system interface inside Windows.

Users can utilize the Windows Subsystem for Linux to access file systems with Linux or get better access to specific language libraries, but cannot run some Linux apps in the Windows Subsystem. System requirements also apply, and users can get more information directly from Microsoft.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.