IT Engineering

Naturally this work is geared more towards running computer-intensive workloads (think Machine Learning, NVIDIA CUDA, etc) than it is browsing your holiday photos in Shotwell. But, regardless, the work will enable hardware accelerated OpenGL and OpenCL on WSL through the Mesa library.

“You’ll be able to use your favorite Linux […] GUI application alongside your other Windows applications,” say Microsoft

There are no plans to prioritise giving native Windows apps preferential access to GPU resources compared to Linux ones. Both will get the exact same access to the GPU and a share of its resources depending specifically on workload.

Or to put it another way, graphically intensive Linux apps (CLI or otherwise) will be treated as first-class citizens on Windows 10.

Microsoft’s new “Direct X” driver for Linux is open source and Microsoft says it plans to upstream relevant parts where applicable. Until then, the source code is available to download from Microsoft’s official Linux kernel branch for WSL 2 on GitHub.

It is already possible to GUI Linux apps on WSL using a third-party X server, but the endeavour requires far effort to set up and is fairly crash prone.

With this announcement those headaches will become a thing the past. GUI apps in the new era connect to a Wayland instance running inside of WSL. This is ‘communicated’ to an invisible RDP client on the Windows host for “seamless” usage of Linux and Windows apps side-by-side.

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Was Microsoft inspired by Google’s “crostini” effort (which lets folk install and run desktop Linux apps on Chromebooks)? Perhaps, but I imagine it’s more to do with wanting to build on its reputation with developers, many of whom favour, use or rely on open source tools — and not just CLI ones, either.
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