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Microsoft Courts Linux Devs by Open Sourcing WSL

Microsoft this week published some Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) open source code on the GitHub repository.

Specifically, Microsoft published the Distro Launcher code that's used with its WSL component of the Windows 10 kernel. The open source code is now available on GitHub as a sample for Linux developers to use.

With the Distro Launcher code, Linux distro owners can create application packages for their Linux operating systems for distribution through the Windows Store. In addition, other Linux developers can use the open source Distro Launcher code to build their own custom Linux OS versions for sideloading onto Windows 10 systems, a process that doesn't involve the Windows Store.

Linux distros that run on Windows 10 using the WSL component can be distributed from the Windows Store as so-called "Universal Windows Platform" apps. Microsoft has a vetting process for the application code that gets distributed from the Windows Store, and so Linux distro owners, or anyone else who wants to put apps into the Windows Store, have to get publishing approvals from Microsoft.

The application packaging process carried out by developers, both for Windows Store apps and for the custom sideloaded Linux OS versions, both use the .AppX format. However, Microsoft just expects official Linux distro maintainers to be the ones that distribute their OSes through the Windows Store.

"Please note that your custom package would not be distributed through the Microsoft Store unless you submit as a distribution maintainer," Microsoft's announcement noted.

WSL is distro-agnostic, permitting any Linux OSes run natively on top of Windows 10. The capability is mostly there to support the use of developer tools. Microsoft has previously indicated that WSL is not for running production workloads.

Current Linux distros available from the Windows Store include OpenSUSE Leap, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Ubuntu. Microsoft also recently added Debian and Kali Linux distros to the Windows Store.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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