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Native GUI/GPU Support Coming 'This Year' For Windows Subsystem for Linux

Native GUI/GPU Support Coming 'This Year' For Windows Subsystem for Linux

 

Source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/05/19/wsl2_gui/

 

Through collaboration between Canonical and Microsoft, it looks like WSL is going to be getting a big upgrade to include native GUI and GPU support later this year.

 

While it's been possible to get a GUI environment working for some time, this will be the first out-of-the-box support. 

 

Quote

 'According to Microsoft, "support for Linux graphical user interface (GUI) apps will enable you to open a WSL instance and run a Linux GUI app directly without the need for a third-party X server."'

Quote

In terms of what Windows users might actually use this graphical Linux support for, Microsoft suggested that developers might have a Linux IDE they'd prefer to use. Barnes agreed, putting forward KDevelop or GNOME Builder as use cases. "You don't want to torture some people with Emacs," he laughed.

 

While the GUI support may be the most eye-catching (when it arrives in Windows 10 – it took a few weeks after 2019's Build for WSL2 to arrive in the hands of Insiders), it is GPU support that has many excited. It will accelerate GUI applications and "it also unlocks GPU accelerated workflows," explained Barnes, "things like TensorFlow on MicroK8s on WSL."

Would you have use cases for GUI or GPU support in WSL?

 

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Aah, the old "embrace, extend, extinguish"

The question, of course, is what's gonna be extinguished? Ubuntu or the Windows kernel? Seeing a lot of interest in Linux at Microsoft these days. Gonna get interesting....

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3 minutes ago, willies leg said:

Aah, the old "embrace, extend, extinguish"

The question, of course, is what's gonna be extinguished? Ubuntu or the Windows kernel? Seeing a lot of interest in Linux at Microsoft these days. Gonna get interesting....

Certainly a lot of embracing going on! 

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Will OpenGL and Vulkan be supported? What about audio?

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WSL has such bad IO latency issues (understandable since you need to map the posix style filesystem to that of NT) that is is real a no go for any real data sci tasks. Just install linux or get a mac if you want to do data sci, windows does not give you any join in that space.

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6 hours ago, willies leg said:

Aah, the old "embrace, extend, extinguish"

Aah, the old "no one can change and should always be treated the same no matter what" 

 

When was the last legitimate time that EEE was implemented? And I do mean actually implemented, not random on forums or reddit spouting about how it could be EEE. 

 

MS is a completely different company than they were in the late 90s/early 2000s

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I hope this works out well. I mainly use Linux for work. I gave wsl a shot and vim works quite well for all the coding I need, but I still need to launch into Ubuntu to be able to run ROS. If I can use my ROS gui tools within Windows then there isn't much reason for me to run Linux natively anymore

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20 hours ago, hishnash said:

WSL has such bad IO latency issues (understandable since you need to map the posix style filesystem to that of NT) that is is real a no go for any real data sci tasks.

WSL2 has far better IO performance, since it uses a full kernel (rather than translation). Unless you are doing a lot of stuff on network drives, it's an upgrade over WSL1. The only slowdown I've noticed is when I ran a tool I made (which compiles JS files to binaries), it was slightly slower than the Windows build.

 

Now... seeing GUI apps coming to WSL is a nice addition. Granted, I have all of my GUI tools already on Windows, but it could help with debugging Linux GUI apps on Windows (when I can't spin up a VM or have some issues with a real distro. Some of the devices don't work right on Linux).

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20 hours ago, ryao said:

Will OpenGL and Vulkan be supported? What about audio?

If the video card is pass through like on any VM with UEFI (which is what i assume they mean by that), then it will be seen as a normal dedicated video card by the hosted OS. So there should be no difference between running it like that vs running directly on your favorite standard installed distro of linux. That being said they did not say either anything about drive availability. Will it be nvidia driver directly of simply Generic driver this will affect the result.

 

Also remember your are not forced to have a GPU for openGL you can completely emulate it on CPU if you want so it already works. I run some project on on Celeron D processors for legacy apps i have and it works like a charm. Okay it can't run something as heavy as Doom 2016 but it does some basic stuff very well.

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12 minutes ago, Franck said:

If the video card is pass through like on any VM with UEFI (which is what i assume they mean by that), then it will be seen as a normal dedicated video card by the hosted OS. So there should be no difference between running it like that vs running directly on your favorite standard installed distro of linux. That being said they did not say either anything about drive availability. Will it be nvidia driver directly of simply Generic driver this will affect the result.

It'll be a kernel pipe between a binary blob running on userspace inside WSL that talks to the Windows' dxkrnl. The patch was sent to linux but doesn't seem like it'll be accepted on the upstream since it adds nothing to linux itself and only brings complications.

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image.png.78b658a01226ea88683bde6ca6538d93.png

 

IMO this is Microsoft pulling 3E

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19 minutes ago, igormp said:

It'll be a kernel pipe between a binary blob running on userspace inside WSL that talks to the Windows' dxkrnl. The patch was sent to linux but doesn't seem like it'll be accepted on the upstream since it adds nothing to linux itself and only brings complications.

You are right. Seems to be a plain pipe. So it should just redirect the calls (a wrapper in programing language). Then it should work perfectly. Latency shouldn't be much higher if that's the case.

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Why not: DirectX is coming to Linux

One day I will be able to play Monster Hunter Frontier in French/Italian/English on my PC, it's just a matter of time... 4 5 6 7 8 9 years later: It's finally coming!!!

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1 hour ago, FirehawkV21 said:

The only slowdown I've noticed is when I ran a tool I made (which compiles JS files to binaries), it was slightly slower than the Windows build.

At my work we have a few (large 20 year old) repositores of code, doing git status (WSL2) takes a good minutes to run. 

And yes things like node projects are also very slow, its like i'm using a spinning disk even through my machine has a very fast NVMe driver.

For datascie work with large HDF5 files this speed tanks even more (yes its better than WSL1 but still spinning disk speed). This makes doing any real work (beyond quick tests) pointless as the bottlenecks in WSL are so different to in your production env.

if MS were serious about getting developers on board they should produce linux versions of their applications (work, excel etc) these are the reasons people use windows due to other people in the company sending them these files. 

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26 minutes ago, hishnash said:

if MS were serious about getting developers on board they should produce linux versions of their applications (work, excel etc) these are the reasons people use windows due to other people in the company sending them these files. 

The issue with bringing their apps to Linux would be supporting a lot of distros. Picking a UI framework that works with a lot of them is already a pain (asssuming that you don't use something like Electron). Even if they decide to build their own UI framework so they can port them to Linux, is there a quarantee that the distro can handle the calls necessary? And assuming that all of the technical details are ironed out, would it make sense to make versions for it? Especially since Linux is way too small in install base (and who knows how each distro's install base is split).

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1 hour ago, suicidalfranco said:

Why not: DirectX is coming to Linux

Because it's not. It will only work on WSL, and for any graphics API (DX, vk, opengl).

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10 hours ago, FirehawkV21 said:

The issue with bringing their apps to Linux would be supporting a lot of distros. Picking a UI framework that works with a lot of them is already a pain (asssuming that you don't use something like Electron).

You don't actually need to do this if you make a static binary. Of course, you'd need to be able to access .NET (the whole thing) on Linux in order to do that...

 

Also they could just use GTK which works fine on almost all distros. They already use a different framework for MacOS so I don't buy that this is a concern for them. They don't port Office to Linux because otherwise for a lot of people there'd be no requirement to use Windows.

10 hours ago, FirehawkV21 said:

is there a quarantee that the distro can handle the calls necessary?

Unless you're using something extremely weird, yes.

10 hours ago, FirehawkV21 said:

And assuming that all of the technical details are ironed out, would it make sense to make versions for it? Especially since Linux is way too small in install base (and who knows how each distro's install base is split).

It's the chicken and the egg, isn't it? Besides this clearly doesn't tell the whole story if Microsoft went out of their way to include an entire distribution inside Windows... a lot of people would use Linux if they could run all the programs they need on it.

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