Windows 10 Creators Update adds lots of new Bash/WSL features

Microsoft has made 'hundreds' of fixes and added a lot of new features to the Bash/Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10 Creators Update. Here's what's new.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

If 3D Paint and Beam game streaming aren't much of an enticement to move to the latest Windows 10 feature update, the many new Bash/Windows Subsystem for Linux and Windows Console features might be.

Credit: Microsoft

When Microsoft originally shipped its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) last summer, it "was still far from complete," acknowledged senior program manager Rich Turner in an April 11 blog post.

But in the ensuing months, the WSL and Console engineering teams have been busy responding to user suggestions about fixes and new features. And the updated WSL/Console features in Windows 10 Creators Update, which Microsoft began rolling out on April 11, reflect this, he said.

Microsoft worked with Canonical, the creators of Ubuntu Linux, to create WSL, a feature which debuted as part of Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The idea was by putting Bash on Windows 10, Microsoft would expand its command-line tool family. (It's possible to run openSUSE on Windows 10, too, but it's not currently supported by Microsoft.)

WSL is still considered a beta feature at this point -- despite the fact that the WSL engineering team implemented "hundreds" of fixes Turner said.

Turner outlined some of what he considered the most important Bash/WSL/Console fixes and improvements in yesterday's blog post. On his list:

  • Improved compatibility with the Linux System Call Interface (SCI). The result: More mainstream developer tools now work as expected, including apt, sed, grep, awk, top, tmux, ssh, scp; plus support for the zsh, fish shells (along with Bash); vim, emacs, nano, git, gdb, and more.
  • Ubuntu 16.04 now supported. (With Anniversary Update, Microsoft delivered Ubuntu 14.04)
  • Ifconfig and network connection enumeration support, allowing users to examine configuration of their available network adapters
  • Ping and ICMP support now fixed
  • File change notification (INOTIFY) support is there for web, Node.js, Ruby, and Python devs who rely on this capability. This also supports file-change notifications for files in the Windows filesystem.
  • Improved Windows-Linux tool interop. Devs can now launch Windows apps and tools from within Bash and launch Linux binaries/commands/scripts from within Windows.

On the Windows console and command-line side, Microsoft also made a number of improvements with Creators Update, Turner said.

"One of the key drivers for the Console overhaul was the need to enable the Console to render the output of Linux command-line tools & applications running on WSL. The team are also performing some much needed surgery & modernization to the Console's underpinnings and internals, which will allow for far more rapid and exciting feature development in the future."

Turner and team aren't done; expect continued new features and fixes for Bash, WSL, and the Console with Redstone 3 and beyond.

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