Now You Can Run SUSE Linux on Windows 10 Too

Posted on January 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 29 Comments

Now You Can Run SUSE Linux on Windows 10 Too

Luke, now you can run Linux on top of Windows 10!

SUSE announced this week that it now supports the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10. So you can now use SUSE Bash instead of Ubuntu if you’d like.

When Microsoft first announced the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) as a new feature of Windows 10 last year, Ubuntu Bash was the only supported Linux shell. But since this system is open, it’s possible to install other shells. Which is what SUSE has done.

I’ve not really covered this functionality too much for a variety of reasons. It’s aimed at developers and system administrators who work in heterogeneous environments and prefer or expect the familiarity of Bash, a command line shell that features prominently in UNIX and Linux. (It’s included in macOS as well.) Microsoft, for its part, makes a more modern and powerful command line and scripting environment called PowerShell, but its new openness to the real world needs of its biggest customers—businesses—has triggered the creation of the Frankenstein-like monstrosity of running Bash on top of Linux on top of Windows.

Anyway, you can tell that WSL isn’t aimed at normal users by the way you install it. You can use the hidden and hard-to-find Windows Features interface or prove your mettle by using the command line instead. Either way, what you’re doing is installing the WSL, an optional Windows 10 subsystem, and then running a user-mode Ubuntu Linux on top of Windows 10. That Linux version comes with the Bash shell.

But now those who need to bridge the Windows and Linux worlds have a second option. You will still install WSL, as before. But instead of using Ubuntu Linux, you can use SUSE instead.

“Running Linux binaries natively on Windows … that sounds awesome indeed,” SUSE’s Hannes Kühnemund explains. “However, it’s quite unfortunate that Microsoft enabled the wrong Linux (that’s my personal opinion) by default within the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and it is time to change it to the real stuff.”

SUSE provides a step-by-step guide for getting this stuff installed., and you can choose between openSUSE Leap 42.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2. As with using Ubuntu, however, what you’re basically doing is getting access to the Bash shell, which can run alongside the command line environment, Windows PowerShell, and the Windows GUI.

As for why you might choose this integration, as SUSE explains, this combination of Windows 10 and Linux is more efficient than other ways of running both OSes.

“It’s hard to have both Windows and Linux truly accessible at the same time,” Kühnemund explains. “You’d either have to go with a dual boot setup, or you may leverage virtualization and run a Linux VM on Windows (or vice versa), or you might be familiar with Cygwin allowing you to run recompiled Linux binaries on Windows. All of those options have their advantages and disadvantages.”

God help us all.


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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Now You Can Run SUSE Linux on Windows 10 Too”

  1. 2706

    Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together.

    • 214

      In reply to Jeff.Bane:


      In 1980 at a conference in Phoenix, I gave a presentation on the importance of mass production to the emerging PC market (it was called the micro market then).

      Afterwards a fellow came up and told me, angrily, that all the industry's problems would soon fade to memories, because UNIX had been ported to an 8080... so, it was game over for the PC companies...

      Still waiting :-)

  2. 217

    This is great. I ran prod openSUSE servers way back when I was a sysadmin, it's a rock solid distro. I took this a step further and setup a distro switcher for WSL:

    WSL seems as if it will be ready for the Creator's update, I can't wait. I currently run my prod dev environments in VMWare (7) with Unity mode, works great. But I want WSL. I currently run VcXsrv and can run native X11 apps in WSL, works great! WSL is keeping me on Windows 10 btw.


  3. 4618

    Paul, WSL is not just using bash instead of CMD. Because WSL is Linux all the way down, you can do on it any development step that required a true Linux distro before. For example, I am compiling native C++ code on it and pack it into an RPM, this allows me to avoid running a VM which is clunky and inefficient and so much slower because Bash on WSL is just there when you need it while the VM needs to start up and getting files in and out is just awful for the workflow. (Remote servers are more immediate, but getting the files on there is even worse. And no working on a plane.)

    So, I'd say WSL is quite revolutionary and fitting into the Creators Update because it makes the lives of the devs who prefer, or need to work with Windows as well as Linux. And seeing as you can even run GUI apps on there, this is starting to look more and more like the best hybrid solution out there.

    Now Mac users can't say that they've got Bash unlike Windows. Now Windows has a true Linux unlike Mac's BSD stuff that you need to accomodate if you're into real systems stuff. Now having Windows with WSL is miles better than running Linux and Wine. This really puts Windows firmly ahead of other solutions to do cross-platform development at least for me as a dev.

    • 1377

      In reply to gmanny:

      . . . Now Mac users can't say that they've got Bash unlike Windows. . . .

      Picky: there have been quite a few implementations of Unix tools for Windows and before that MS-DOS. With MinGW, cygwin and MKS, it's not immediately obvious why WSL was needed. Especially for cygwin running it's own terminals rather than using Windows's console.

      • 4618

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Yep, I agree that if you've wanted the convenience of the linux shell to run your Windows install or occasional Linux workflow, again, applied to Windows binaries and Windows environment, stuff like Cygwin and others was useful. The problem, of course, alaays was that Windows was much less tailored to be managed using text processing and piping, so if you were to approach this angle from a native Windows perspective, much of the usefullness was not apparent. If you're a dev with Linux background or even without it, sure, Linux utils could come in handy. But also, wil stuff like Cygwin, the stuff you need needs to be compiled and packaged by someone else (or you'd spend days or weeks trying to build it, which you almost never can afford to do), and that community was much smaller than what's available for any major Linux distribution.

        What WSL brings is a true Linux environment, will all its quirks and a huge ecosystem of packages. No need to emulate and recompile, just do apt-get (or yum) like on a Linux machine and will work identically. So your Linux workflows can be ported to your machine for free.

  4. 5486

    I'm really not sure where MS are going with this. Are they just saying 'look at what we can do'. Are they trying *again* to win over *nix admins (hint: it won't work). Are they still throwing things against their - getting bigger all the time - feature wall to see what sticks? Maybe MS are just trying to be hip and trying to fit in with the *nix wierdy beardies.

    Who knows, but indeed - God help us all.

    • 6358

      In reply to ghostrider:

      One thing is portability - there are lots of utilities and tools available for linux. Now you can take your favorite linux app, compile it the traditional linux way and use it in windows. No changes needed. Mostly. And that's great.

    • 4800

      In reply to ghostrider:

      It doesn't sound like Microsoft helped these SUSE guys.  They took the stuff Microsoft did to make Ubuntu work and just changed it to their version of Linux.

  5. 10084

    Old school development (eg entirely Microsoft based) is less what is happening now. Most of these new upstarts seem to be running Azure/EC2 instances of some kind of linux and Mac workstations to do their coding. Similar CLI toolsets across them both.

    Now, with WSL, Microsoft is keeping itself relevant - not just for old style development but new style as well. Devs don't need to use Mac (or linux) as their workstation, they also have the choice of running Windows. 

    Interesting times.

  6. 1377

    Powershell : bash :: BetaMax : VHS

    Better or more powerful is irrelevant. The potential users for this sort of command line tool have decided: they want bash (or zsh, see reddit's bashonubuntuonwindows), they don't want Powershell.

    Besides, part of what bash under WSL could be doing would be manipulating Linux file system attributes and acls. Does Powershell have any built-in support for Linux file system permissions and acls? Does it have full equivalents for the POSIX awk and sed? Does it have arbitrary precision arithmetic as provided by bc?

    MSFT would like the world to believe Powershell is more powerful, and it may be more powerful than bash alone (though Powershell is much wordier, requiring much more typing to do the same things), but the full Powershell system isn't a match for the full POSIX toolset.

  7. 9201

    "God help us all."

    Eh ?

  8. 427

    This is getting interesting.  I'm sure there will be some very odd hacks in the future that the enthusiasts will love. 

  9. 214

    My heart soars like an eagle... :-)

  10. 8578

    This reminds me of Sun's dubious assumption that developers would write Windows applications in Java because they wanted them to be able to run on Unix. Let Linux be Linux and Windows Windows.

    • 1377

      In reply to skane2600:

      Are you assuming the Windows project managers have become so daft or irrational that they've added WSL to Windows just for kicks? That there's no demand for this?

      WSL, per MSFT, is for developers, mostly web developers (who may only be able to assume POSIX tools, so no Powershell) and those who work on open source projects (Visual Studio can't handle git?). Take a look at SERVER market share stats. Windows Server runs on only about 1/3 of all servers. The rest run Linux or other Unix descendants. Server software development would thus mostly be NON-WINDOWS. I suspect MSFT would really rather developers still used Windows on local PCs even if they're developing for non-Windows servers. IOW, MSFT would readily reject your proposal in favor of Let Everyone Run Windows on Client Machines even if They Don't Run Windows on Servers.

      • 8578

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        You mean the same MS managers who thought a Windows tablet that didn't run Windows applications was a good idea? The same managers who thought developers would flock to Windows 8 if they enabled development via HTML and Javascript? 

        Most web developers who are targeting Linux will simply use Linux boxes. They don't need Windows. Is there any evidence that MS has sold any additional Windows licenses solely because of Linux support?

        • 1377

          In reply to skane2600:

          Is there any evidence MSFT has sold more Windows 10 licenses solely due to any of the new features?

          IMO, the only feature worth an upgrade is workspaces. UWP for PCs is at best NBD, the new Start UI is irrelevant for all of us who use Classic Shell or another Start menu replacement, Cortana may someday become interesting but isn't yet, and Edge just isn't as useful to me as Chrome or Firefox.

          • 8578

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I agree that there's not much added value in Windows 10 in general, but even UWP is probably orders of magnitude more used than Linux features. I think what has really been going on at MS in the last few years is that a new generation of developers what to do what the "cool kids" are doing. That means mobile, web development tools and open source even when there's no clear path to improve the bottom line.

            • 1377

              In reply to skane2600:

              MSFT no longer dreams of Windows running on all or even most servers. Windows Server is competitive, but it's not even first among the server OS competitors. Servers matter, and they're going to matter more and more going forward, and development for servers means using tools which will be found on most servers. That means POSIX on Linux, BSD, other Unix variants, macOS (FWLIW), and now Windows as well.

              OTOH, MSFT has a reasonable chance of remaining on 90% or so of all client computers, and they'd really like to do so rather than give some mostly or entirely web development firms any reason to buy client computers without Windows preinstalled.

              WSL is a defensive move. It may not be absolutely necessary, but it can't hurt. [It won't improve the bottom line, only prevent it from deteriorating.]

              • 8578

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                We aren't talking about tools on servers, but tools on the client. There's no such thing as Windows 10 Server. It seems obvious to me that if one is developing for Windows Server, the most efficient tools to use are those that were designed specifically to support it. Likewise for Linux. Again, where's the evidence that WSL will prevent the bottom line from deteriorating? 

                A business has limited resources, so even a "can't hurt" effort can sometimes be harmful because a better option was denied an opportunity to go forward. Not saying that MS had better things to do, but it's possible.

                • 1377

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Did I mention 'Windows 10 servers'?

                  Anyway, it does appear there were a substantial enough group of developers who wanted, maybe needed, to use POSIX tools, and they either would have needed Linux or BSD via dual boo, VM or Linux/BSD instead of Windows. That last one is undesirable for MSFT. Some firms joining the few oddball individuals buying whitebox PCs could be the camel's nose under the tent.

                  I'm more inclined to figure MSFT managers and employees know what's best for MSFT and Windows than commenters in any non-MSFT blog.

                • 8578

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  You said: "Servers matter, and they're going to matter more and more going forward, and development for servers means using tools which will be found on most servers"

                  You didn't mention a Windows 10 server and I didn't claim you did. WSL is a Windows 10 feature, so if it were found a MS server, it would have to be a "Windows 10" server. 

                  Not sure what "substantial group of developers" you are referring to. Did MS conduct a poll I didn't hear about?

                  As far as MS knowing what's best, I've already enumerated two major blunders MS has made in recent years.

  11. 5234

    "Who is your daddy, and what does he do?"



  12. 5108

    Sheesh. Out of all the Linux flavors I tried in the past, SUSE was maybe not the worst, but it was in a heavy petting relationship with it. Ubuntu I can kinda understand, even Mint. But SUSE? Sigh.

    • 5476

      In reply to burog25c:

      Mint would be the same as Ubuntu....both based on Debian (well mint its based on Ubuntu which is based on debian).

      Suse was the original distro released for enterprise so some older admins might be more comfortable using it's shell. 

  13. 6019

    Why does this bother you so much?