Microsoft enables Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 for developers

Microsoft is starting to allow Windows 10 testers to access Linux GUI apps. The first preview of GUI application support is available today for Windows Insiders, allowing developers to run GUI editors, tools, and applications to build and test Linux applications. It’s a significant extension of Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), after the company added a full Linux kernel to Windows 10 last year.

While it has been possible to run Linux GUI applications in Windows using a third-party X server, official Microsoft support means there is also GPU hardware acceleration so that the applications and tools work. correctly. Audio and microphone support is also included in the box, so Linux developers can easily test or run video players and communication apps.

Linux GUI applications running on Windows.
Image: Microsoft

All of this is enabled without Windows users having to use X11 forwarding and without users having to manually start an X server. Microsoft automatically starts a companion system distribution when you try to run a Linux GUI application, and it contains a Wayland, an X server, a pulsed audio server and everything else needed to make it work in Windows. Once you complete an app and WSL, this special distribution also ends. All of these components combine to make it very easy to run Linux GUI applications alongside regular Windows applications.

Microsoft is also testing a new eco mode for Windows Task Manager in this latest test version. This is an experimental feature that allows you to limit process resources in Task Manager. It’s really designed to contain apps that suddenly start to take up a lot of system resources, and it could be useful if you want to temporarily slow down an app.

New Eco mode for the task manager.
Image: Microsoft

If you want to test Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 or this new task manager feature, you will need to install the latest Windows Insider version 21364 from the dev channel. Be warned: they are meant as developer builds, not for machines you rely on daily.