Ubuntu on Windows

windows subsytem for linux

Posted on February 28, 2019

After using Ubuntu 16.04 on my old laptop for years, I attempted an upgrade to 18.04 which was nearly unusable on my old hardware. Having recently setup Windows 10 on a budget gaming PC, I instead installed Win 10 Pro onto my old Acer laptop.

However, Windows has not historically been a good platform for developing on, particularly using open-source toolkits. Luckily, even Microsoft figured this out and announced the Windows Subsystem for Linux (aka WSL) a couple of years back.

The WSL allows for a reasonably powerful command-line, built upon your preferred Linux. This allows Windows users to follow along with development trends in machine learning, such as Fast.ai

WSL Install

Following these directions at Fast.ai for WSL setup, I enabled the WSL feature under the Apps and Features control panel, and rebooted.

WSL Feature

A few minutes later, I choose Ubuntu from the Windows Store app. Other distros such as Suse, Kali, and Debian are also available. After install, a Ubuntu terminal app appeared in my Start menu:

Ubuntu Start

WSL Usage

After creating a Linux user, I was all set:

WSL Terminal

Even trusty old vim was installed. However, by default, useful shortcuts for copy/paste such as the middle mouse button do not work. Bit dissapointed with that one.

However, it seems a very nice upgrade from Cygwin which I used all last decade on Windows. As well, being a full Ubuntu distro it should be more compatible than other tools like Git Bash.

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