WSL has a core subsystem which contains the Linux API on Windows and can natively load Linux executables and libraries. WSL also contains a package of software from Canonical.
Microsoft is billing WSL as a tool for developers because it can deliver tools that are equivalent to the likes of Bash shell, Vi (m), Emacs make and GNU Compiler Collection which many developers depend on.
“You can now run Bash scripts, Linux command-line tools like sed, awk, grep, and you can even try Linux-first tools like Ruby, Git, Python, etc. directly on Windows,” according to Microsoft’s Mike Harsh. “You can also access your Windows filesystem from within Bash allowing you to work on the same set of files using your preferred Windows tools or Linux command-line tools.”
According to Peter Bright, technology editor of Ars Technica, Microsoft is not just releasing WSL as a deployment platform.
Microsoft’s intentions “run a little deeper than that,” he wrote in a recent article.
Some 15 years ago, Windows was considered the only serious platform for developers. But the times have changed.While Microsoft has been diligent in providing for the needs of its constituents, it has pretty ignored developers outside this community.
Bright cites the example of Visual Studio C and C++ compiler.for example, despite repeated request to Microsoft, still lacks full support for C99 — the version of the C language that was standardized about 17 years ago.
“Windows certainly hasn’t disappeared completely from view, but it’s no longer the essential, must-have platform that it once was,” says Bright.
Today, Microsoft needs to do something really drastic that will make Windows appeal to the developer community.
By bringing a large part of the Linux user experience to Windows, WSL might just be the answer.
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