Linux Vs WSL

Why use a “real” Linux instead of WSL

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It’s without doubt that WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux or Windows Subsystem for Linux) has been one of the biggest technological shouts of the past decade and a component that has generated a lot of controversy since its appearance.

Microsoft’s intention with WSL has been clear, and it is to offer the virtues of a Linux operating system within Windows 10 and 11 without the need to reboot or resort to “traditional” virtual machine solutions. Far from having remained an experiment, the corporation originating from Redmond has taken its development very seriously to facilitate as much as possible the use of what was its rival system, which has established itself as the main option or the standard in sectors such as servers, supercomputing and artificial intelligence.

While WSL is impressive as a technology, one finds different answers depending on where one asks. Some, mainly in Linux circles, consider it a flop, while others, mainly Microsoft enthusiasts, say it has been a success primarily among developers. It’s worth mentioning that many Linux users see WSL as an adopt-extend-extinct move.

Regardless of what’s really going on, WSL has put an innovative spin on the way multiple operating systems are used within a single computer, providing a framework where Windows and Linux can co-exist side by side and seamlessly. quite integrated.

The evolution of WSL

Microsoft says of the latest version, WSL2, which “uses the latest and greatest virtualization technology to run a Linux kernel in a lightweight utility virtual machine (VM). However, WSL 2 is not a traditional VM experience”. The company has striven to keep the differences from using a “real” Linux operating system minimal, something that has been reinforced in the second major version of the technology.

WSL 1 Vs WSL 2

As we can see, the second version of WSL surpasses the first in everything except the performance of the operating system’s file systems, which “can be fixed by storing the project files in the same operating system as the running tools”. The requirements are higher by being available in Windows 10 version 1903 build 18362 or later. At the virtualization software level, VirtualBox 6 or later or VMWare 15.5.5 or later is required.

From the perspective of the end user and their perspective, one of the most important new features of WSL 2 is the official support for running graphical applications. On YouTube you can find demonstrations in which you can see native applications for Linux working very well on Windows 10, with performance, at least in appearance, good enough to use it in production environments. This has made some wonder if the most attractive thing about Windows 11 is its support for Linux.

5 reasons to use a Linux on a real machine instead of resorting to WSL

It is obvious that WSL makes it very comfortable to use Linux inside Windowsmaking dual-boot not only dispensable, but also provides a framework that, once activated and running, offers a more integrated experience than resorting to virtualization solutions such as VirtualBox and VMware, to name the two most used in domestic settings.

Although there are many ways to use Linux inside Windows, we are going to show you five reasons why you should reverse the relationship with your computer and start using Linux on the real machine and, if you need it, Windows on a virtual one.

You can avoid the increasing requirements to use Windows

Microsoft is introducing more and more requirements to use Windows, and in version 11 it has established so many that they have ended up slowing down the progression of the system in terms of user quota.

Although it is true that the pandemic has boosted the sale of PCs, the global situation of the last 10 years is one of evident stagnation, so it is not strange to see a large number of users with equipment that is more than five years old. Added to this is the fact that the computers themselves are very overpowered, to the extent that an Intel Core 2 Quad with 8GB of RAM is currently perfectly valid for performing a large number of tasks (yes, in Linux it could be preferable to renew the graphics due to the poor quality of the drivers of the time).

Linux does not currently impose barriers like those imposed by Microsoft to use its latest operating system, however, distributions such as Fedora are emerging that are willing to definitively retire support for legacy BIOS.

Windows 11

It’s important to keep in mind that when Fedora makes a move, it’s only a matter of time before almost all mainstream distributions end up doing the same thing. In the worst case you will always fall back on Debian, whose strong multi-architecture support (it still compiles for 32-bit x86) will most likely keep you on supporting 64-bit x86 machines running legacy BIOS.

Despite the possible restrictions that may come to some Linux distributions in the near future, using WSL makes one end up dragging the demands of Windows, which is ultimately the system that is really governing the computer. Although Windows 10 is more lax in terms of its requirements, the existence of version 11 lays the foundation for the end of the cycle of the previous one. In other words, if you don’t upgrade your hardware (if it doesn’t meet the requirements), you have a real chance of not being able to use your computer in the future unless you install Linux (or another alternative operating system that works for you). ).

Linux may be the future (thanks to Steam Deck)

The Steam Deck, Valve’s mini-PC “canned” in the form of a hybrid console, uses SteamOS 3 as its default operating system. At this point we suppose that it is not necessary to explain that it is a Linux to which immutability features have been added to prevent the user from accidentally breaking the system and offer a more stable ground to game developers.

Even though the price of graphics cards is apparently beginning to return to normal, For years signs have been detected that PC Gaming has entered an auction dynamic in which a percentage of users is willing to pay any price for anything.

We will see how the market will be in the near future, but it is clear that PC Gaming has recently been a platform that is difficult to access for those who do not have a fairly full wallet. You just have to see that the GTX 1650 was the best-selling graphics card in the final stretch of 2021, a fact that shows that users have it increasingly difficult to get hardware equivalent to what the GTX 1060 and the RX 480 at the time.

Steam Deck, Valve's console with SteamOS 3, a Linux operating system

In short, and seeing that building a PC to play is getting more and more expensive (and to this we must add the increasingly poor optimization of many games), The Steam Deck is presented as an alternative to the “traditional” PC to play, since on the one hand it ends up being cheaper and on the other hand it can contribute to putting a realistic floor at the level of system requirements.

Although the Steam Deck supports Windows, it would be preferable to use it with Linux because this helps generate interest in improving hardware support that bounces to all Linux distributions, thus opening the door for the user to use the system that best suits them. suit your tastes instead of settling for SteamOS or Windows. It is always better for users to choose rather than companies for users.

Helps manufacturers become more interested in Linux

This reason is not difficult to understand and has something to do with what happens with the Steam Deck. The more Linux users there are, the more manufacturers will be interested in supporting it.. It’s that easy.

Despite the improvement both in quality and in the number of users that Linux has experienced in the last decade, there are still a large number of manufacturers that still do not give it official support, including well-known brands among users.

Linux has been proving for years that it is a very suitable platform for gaming, but that has not been enough for manufacturers to get involved in providing it with good support for customizing RGB lights, an area that is currently covered by community projects and independent.

hardware for linux

But the lack of support affects not only RGB lighting customization, but also Wi-Fi going over USB, internal sound cards (ASUS ones are well supported, but few Sound Blasters work well), feature mice” Specials” and controllers for third-party games (Linux has an official driver for the DualSense and Xbox controllers and the Switch Pro Controller should work).

Here we find ourselves with the situation of the whiting that bites its tail: since there are few users, the manufacturers do not show interest, and since the manufacturers do not show interest, the users do not arrive. The only way to break this cycle is through the number of usersbecause the hardware companies have obviously chosen to slipstream on this issue.

You can have Windows in a virtual machine inside Linux

Returning to the increasingly demanding requirements of Windows, there is a possible way to use Microsoft’s operating system without having to face the costs of renewing the hardware, and that is by using a virtualization solution.

Windows 11 can be executed, for example, within VirtualBox, the well-known Oracle solution that is free and free software in a very high percentage (except for full USB support).

If your computer doesn’t meet the requirements to run Windows 11, virtualization solutions like VirtualBox and VMware should support it. Why upgrade hardware when you can “emulate” it for free? You can use Linux on your physical machine and Windows on a virtual one. Apart from getting around the requirements, you win in aspects such as isolation to get more protection against some questionable decisions that the Microsoft system drags.

As an alternative to the popular solutions from large companies there is GNOME Boxes, a simple graphical interface for KVM/QEMU from the GNOME project. Their support for Windows 11 is green or not complete at the moment, so some additional configuration is required. However, it is certain that in the not too distant future it will catch up with its rivals.

Windows 10 on GNOME Boxes, virtualization solution for Linux.

Windows 10 on GNOME Boxes, virtualization solution for Linux.

Open your mind

Beyond the hackneyed issues around free software and Open Source, new experiences are often enriching and help broaden horizons.

Using Linux on a physical machine forces the user to really get familiar with the system instead of just using the parts that interest them. Replacing Windows with Linux not only changes the interfaces, but to a large extent the way the computer works.

Getting really familiar with Linux will give you other perspectives on how to use a computer and who knows, you might end up liking it better than what you’ve always seen and used through Windows.

conclusion

In short, you have more than enough reasons to use a Linux on a real machine instead of resorting to WSL. There is no doubt that Microsoft’s technology is impressive and also offers very good performance, but in the end it is still an attempt by the company to maintain its position of abuse (abuse of dominant position) in the computing market. desktop, a situation that is partly used to force users to have to retire hardware prematurely.

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