WSL for Development

A Brief Introduction and Reasons to Use WSL for Development

Doesn’t matter if you’re programming with Kotlin or Java or with any other technologies out there. Operating on Linux always offers you plenty of benefits. Linux Bash with some of its most useful commands is just one of them. However, there are still many developers who give more preference to working on Windows. According to one of the surveys in 2020, 45.8% which is almost half of all the developers are known to work in the Windows environment. We decided to provide you some better insights into WSL for development and the various benefits it offers to the developers.

While most web developers lack multiple machines, cross-platform development of applications is quite common. Considering present-day conditions, it is easier to install a Linux development environment into a machine that’s based on Windows OS. All thanks go to Microsoft’s amazing feature – WSL.

Since machines with Windows OS are more common among developers, developers connect to remote Linux servers for their work through SSH. These Linux machines/servers are known to be shared among several developers for task completion. However, there are times when developers want a machine of their own, that’s mostly when a virtual machine is being used.

For systems that are based on Windows OS, there are solutions like VMware and VirtualBox that let you install any Linux distro from an installer ISO for the purpose. However, because of its performance, many developers do not like it. There were some compatibility issues, lack of support, and tools which made it quite slow and heavy for the overall system.

What Is WSL?

Windows Subsystem for Linux or WSL is a part and one of the features of the Windows operating system that allows developers to run native Linux binaries and other you may know about how to activate window 10 without any license key. It comes with numerous distributions that can be installed and used for specific purposes.

WSL was introduced by Microsoft some time ago as a new tool that did its best to bridge the gap between the Linux experience and Windows. We have some important details and benefits that WSL offers you as a developer so that you can have a better understanding of it.

How To Install WSL?

One of the most important things to do before installing any of the Linux distributions is to install the WSL itself. Follow the given steps for the same.

  • Go to the control panel
  • Then go to Programs
  • Click on Programs and Features
  • Turn the Windows feature ON and OFF.
  • Further, select Windows Subsystem for Linux.
  • Click Confirm
  • Restart the system.

Once this is done, you can readily select and install any Linux distribution you want.

Linux Distributions That Are Available With WSL

To find the complete list of Linux distributions that are available, simply open the Windows Store and search for “Linux”. The most popular distributions include the following:

  • Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04
  • Debian
  • Kali Linux
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
  • Fedora Remix for WSL

Making the Best Out Of Microsoft Development Tools

While WSL is natively integrated with the Windows operating system, developers can easily create, build, and debug Linux applications with the help of various Windows tools like Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code. It is known to be a powerful and free IDE that comes with an extension that allows you to attach a VSCode directly to WSL. This way developers can leverage the power of GUI IDE of Windows and the Linux command line simultaneously. There are various other extensions in Viscose that offer you a lot of flexibility in the web development process.

What Makes WSL Better?

Developers are mostly concerned about the performance when they use VMs. As per a common opinion and most bookmarks, WSL’s performance is considered as good as that of a native Linux distribution. However, according to some I/O tests, there were bottlenecks reported while using WSL. Later, WSL2 emerged as an improved version of the former.

Mentioned below are some important advantages of WSL for development:

  • It is known to be lighter than a general virtual machine and consumes fewer resources including memory, storage, and CPU.
  • It’s easy to set up.
  • WSL is natively integrated with the Windows operating system and gets complete support from Microsoft.
  • There’s no need for third-party VM software.
  • It has a large community and comes with good documentation from Microsoft which gives an easy beginning even to those developers who have no prior experience with using Linux.
  • It allows a faster development process for cross-platform projects.
  • Windows apps and Linux tools can be shared in the same set of files.
  • It offers near-native Linux distro performance which is absolutely stable and cost-effective.
  • Users can easily install the necessary packages.
  • WSL offers reliable distribution support. With Ubuntu’s Long Term Support, users get five years of patches and security updates.
  • Microsoft has been focusing much on WSL development and came up with WSL2 which is a more mature version with improved performance and has various issues resolved.

However, there are still scenarios where WSL should not be used.

  • When your application is based on GUI, it’s not advisable to use WSL as it does not support GUI-based desktop applications. While there are several ways to configure WSL with a graphic subsystem and make the graphic applications work, running graphical applications on WSL is not recommended?
  • It cannot run 32-bit binaries. Also, it isn’t suitable for applications that require any specific Linux kernel services which most likely may not be implemented in WSL. Kernel modules cannot be run like device drivers. However, future versions like WSL2 still support it.
  • WSL is not suitable for production workloads. It can be used only for the development of applications and not for production servers or desktop computers.
  • If you develop/run scientific applications that use GPUs, WSL requires Linux to be run on the bare metal. Well, it’s one of the factors that will surely be supported in the near future.

For any emerging web development agency in India, it is something of great importance. We hope this information helps you carry on operations perfectly.

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