Microsoft: Older Windows 10 versions now get to run Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Support for Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) distros is being made available to Windows 10 versions 1909 and 1903.

Due to popular demand, Microsoft is bringing the new Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 (WSL 2) to older Windows 10 builds.

WSL 2 forms part of the
Windows 10 version 2004

, or May 2020, update and brings with it a full Linux kernel, alongside improved support for Docker, FUSE and rsync, plus an overall improvement in file-system performance.

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But with
the May 2020 update still rolling out

, and given that most Windows 10 users remain on versions 1909 and 1903, it’s understandable that Microsoft would backport WSL 2 to these older builds.

“We heard how much you liked WSL 2 and wanted to expand its accessibility, and over the past few months we worked on bringing it back to 1903 and 1909,” Microsoft said in a blogpost on Wednesday.

“The primary goal for this backport is to make WSL 2 available to more Windows users.”

WSL 2 is a new version of the architecture in
Windows Subsystem for Linux

that alters how Linux distributions interact with the Windows operating system, enabling users to run native Linux command-line tools directly alongside their traditional Windows desktop. Each Linux distribution can run as WSL 1 or as WSL 2, and can be switched between at any time.

The backport is currently only available for x64 Windows 10 systems on versions 1903 and 1909. Customers using an Arm64 version will need to update their system to Windows 10 version 2004 to get full access to WSL 2, Microsoft said.  

Users can get the backport via Windows Update. Microsoft notes that the backport has the minor build number 1049 – if customers are running 1049 or higher on Windows builds 18362 or 18363, they can run WSL 2 distros on their machine.

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