Just as the title says, I'm really curious about this and I want to learn why LSW can't be a thing.

5 Answers 5


WSL1 was just a wrapper for syscalls. WSL2 is more of a virtual machine with tight integration into the host (binfmt allowing you to call Windows binaries, filesystem integration...).

An integration of Windows into a GNU/Linux system in the sense of WSL2 would require you to be able to modify, compile and run the entirety of the proprietary, licensed NT kernel. The source code for this is not (legally) available.

So you'll be stuck to spinning up a Windows machine in a virtualization software of your choice for the forseeable future.

  • WSL1 being a wrapper for syscalls makes it a lot like Wine.
    – muru
    Sep 19 at 1:59

WINE is essentially a translation layer for Windows executables on Linux. In many ways it's equivalent to WSL in that regard.


There have been Windows emulators like wine for running Windows programs in the Linux environment. Also full virtual machine environments like Virtualbox are available.

These aren't exact counterparts to WSL, but ways of running Windows programs on Unix/Linux computers have been around for a while.

  • I'm not talking about wine and honestly I don't know how that fits as an answer. In Windows, you don't have "line" so you can achieve WSL and afaik, there's no wine equivalent for Linux's apps to be run in Windows. Sep 18 at 17:18
  • I think if you ran cmd with wine you wouldn't need to call wine again for additional programs. A wrapper for syscalls and a wrapper for syscalls aren't very different from a semantic standpoint even if the UIs are significantly different and one might work better than the other due to fewer proprietary hacks.
    – davolfman
    Sep 18 at 20:03
  • @thecowmilk since, as you observed, there is no "LSW", anyone's answers can't be about a direct equivalent to WSL. So in my answer I touched on the closest things to an "LSW" that do exist: wine and a virtual machine. You didn't state in your question that you were already aware of these options, so three of the four answers you've received (so far) mention one or both of them, in case it's useful info for you. This happens a lot in this forum - someone asks "Why can't I do X" and some answers say "you could do Y or Z instead, and the asker responds "Thanks, I didn't know about Y and Z".
    – Sotto Voce
    Sep 18 at 22:18

The overlap between

  • People who want "Windows being a subsystem for Linux, like WSL".


  • People who have full access to closed source Windows (Microsoft developers), and could do it.

is the null set. There are no such people.

Secret (proprietary) knowledge of Microsoft Windows would be required, and Microsoft has no business reason to make access to Linux easy. And Microsoft has a Legal Department chock full of lawyers.


Obvious answer: because Microsoft haven't built that. Without Microsoft, nobody can legally modify MS Windows.

Running Windows that way would almost certainly require a customised kernel and Windows libraries to support the integration.

There's nothing stopping you running a Windows virtual machine under Linux, but it's the integration between the host and VM that makes it a "subsystem" in that sense.

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