In-Depth Analysis of Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI (WSLg) – Virtualization Review

Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI (WSLg) Deep Dive

In a previous series of articles, I revisited the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and found that it had matured a lot since its release about five years ago. If you haven’t installed it yet and want to see how I installed it from the command line, please refer to the series, which starts here.

I hadn’t planned to write more about WSL, but the more I worked on it, the more features I found that I thought were worth highlighting, and I’ll share some of them with you in a new series. of items. To begin with, in this article, I will describe how WSL integrated Linux GUI applications into Windows, known as Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI or WSLg for short.

While launching graphical applications has traditionally been a doable, albeit tedious, process, WSLg has made it much more seamless. Before using WSLg, however, you will need to have WSL installed on Windows 11 build 22000 or later; WSLg will not work with Windows 10. I used Ubuntu on Windows for this article and have not tried WSLg with other Linux distributions.

Installation of Linux graphical applications
Linux graphical applications are installed from the WSL console. WSLg takes care of displaying them on Windows 11 system, and nothing special is required on Windows system.

To access the Linux console, type Ubuntu in the Windows search box, then double-click the application icon.

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To test WSLg, I installed VLC (a popular media player) by becoming root, updating my system, and then entering the following commands:

bash sudo
proper update
apt install vlc -y

To launch VLC, I entered vlc & in the Ubuntu command line (the “&” was running VLC as a background process). I was introduced to the VLC app as a new Windows pane that I could move and resize like any other Windows app. I could then play videos using VLC without any problems.

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Other GUI applications
I was able to install and launch various other GUI applications by entering the commands listed below.

  • For Nautilus (graphics file manager):

    • Install: apt install nautilus -y
    • Launch: nautilus &
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  • For Gimp (a graphics editor like Photoshop):

    • Install: apt install gimp -y
    • Launch: gimp &
    [Click on image for larger view.]
  • For Gnome-system-monitor (graphical system monitor):

    • Install: apt install gnome-system-monitor -y
    • Launch: gnome-system-monitor &
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    It ran for a few minutes then stopped with the following message. I did not delve into the question.

    [Click on image for larger view.]
  • For Firefox (a very popular web browser):

    • Install: apt install firefox -y
    • Launch: firefox &
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    The web browser worked as expected and I was even able to play YouTube videos on it without any issues.

WSSLG on Windows 10
You must remember that WSLg will only work on Windows 11. When I installed and launched VLC from WSL on a Windows 10 system, I received several error messages and then a command line prompt for VLC .

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You can run graphical applications from WSL on Windows 10, but you will need to start a full Linux graphical desktop and then start the xrdp service on WSL, RDP into WSL session and start VLC in it. While this worked for me, it’s very different from WSLg transparently starting graphical applications on a Windows 11 system where they act like any other Windows 11 application, instead of running them in a session RDP.

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WSLg is a cool feature that lets you launch graphical apps from Linux and make them behave like Windows 11 apps and shows the investment Microsoft and Ubuntu have made in WSL.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has extensive IT experience gained over the past 25 years in various technologies, with the past 15 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He currently works as Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He previously worked at VMware as a senior course developer, solutions engineer, and in the competitive marketing group. He also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with the Taneja Group, where he led the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He’s on Twitter @vDoppler.

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Steven L. Nielsen