The Windows Subsystem for Linux is now available in Windows Insider builds of Windows Server. And as Microsoft announced earlier this year at Build, this technology will be included in the next version of the shipping product.
This is either obvious or curious, depending on your viewpoint.
That is, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) makes tons of sense on the Windows 10 client, because Microsoft is promoting this system as the only client developers will ever need, and WSL gives developers access to all of the tools they want.
But Server is, by its nature, different. And Microsoft worked, long ago—starting with Windows Server 2003 and its mantra of “it’s a server, not a surfboard”—-to remove as much of the end-user functionality in Server as possible. WSL isn’t a “Linux server,” it’s just a subsystem that enables a Linux environment with a command line shell and tools. So why would anyone want this in Windows Server?
“We want Windows, including Windows Server, to be a great place for developers,” Microsoft explains. “We know developers, system administrators, people managing services and people building services all occasionally need tools available on Linux. Many more would like to run Linux tools as part of their workflow as a matter of convenience.”
And, as Microsoft points out, those who did need Linux capabilities have had to resort to Linux virtual machines on top of Server, or third-party tools like Cygwin that are “notoriously out of date.”
So WSL is coming to Server.
To access this functionality now, you will need to download the latest Windows Server Insider build. (You must register first and join the Insider Preview.) Microsoft has also provided a handy Installation Guide for WSL on the Windows Server Insider Preview.