What Is The Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL)?

What is the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)?

What is the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)?

Welcome to the “DEFINITIONS” category, where we break down complex tech terms into simple explanations. In today’s post, we’ll be diving into the realm of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). If you’ve ever wondered what WSL is and how it works, you’ve come to the right place!

Key Takeaways:

  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer that allows you to run Linux distributions natively on Windows.
  • It provides developers with a seamless environment to build and test Linux-based applications without the need for virtual machines or dual-boot configurations.

So, what exactly is WSL, and why is it an important tool for developers?

WSL is a feature developed by Microsoft that enables you to run a fully functional Linux operating system within Windows. It essentially acts as a bridge between the Windows and Linux worlds, providing developers with a Linux environment directly on their Windows machines. This feature has gained significant popularity in recent years within the developer community, as it enhances productivity and simplifies development workflows.

How does WSL work?

WSL works by leveraging a combination of lightweight virtualization and dynamic translation capabilities. It includes a compatibility layer that translates Linux system calls into their Windows equivalent, allowing Linux binaries to run natively on Windows. This means you can access the Linux command line interface (CLI) and execute Linux applications seamlessly.

When you install WSL, you have the freedom to choose from various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora, among others. Each distribution comes with its own package manager, allowing you to easily install software and libraries to meet your development requirements.

The benefits of using WSL:

  • Seamless Integration: With WSL, you can seamlessly switch between Windows and Linux applications without the need for dual-booting or virtual machines.
  • Improved Productivity: WSL simplifies developer workflows by providing a familiar Linux environment directly on Windows, allowing for efficient development and testing.
  • Access to Linux Tools: WSL grants access to a wide range of Linux tools and utilities, enabling developers to leverage the rich Linux development ecosystem while working on a Windows machine.
  • Compatibility: WSL ensures that Linux applications run natively on Windows without the need for modifications, reducing compatibility issues and streamlining the development process.


The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a powerful tool that brings the best of both worlds together by allowing developers to seamlessly run Linux distributions within a Windows environment. With WSL, developers can enjoy a familiar Linux development experience while leveraging the benefits of the Windows operating system. It’s a game-changer for those who want to combine the power of Linux with the convenience of Windows!

So, whether you’re a developer looking to streamline your workflow or a tech enthusiast looking to experiment with Linux without leaving your Windows machine, give WSL a try!