Running Linux GUI with WSL

WSL is great for running Linux shell on the Windows machine. You have access to the awesome Linux tooling and apps that every developer loves.

Problem arises when we want to run an app that requires graphical interface. Currently WSL does not support any graphical interface officially but as always there are some ways to bypass the limitations. As far as I am aware, this can be achived in two ways:

  • Install X Sever for Windows
  • Use remote desktop (e.g. XRDP)

I have tried both solutions and none of them is perfect. Remote desktop connection is laggy and adds a lot of overhead but it is still more reliable and effective than trying to use the X Server (e.g. Xming or VcXsrv). X Server solution requires more fine tuning, fiddling with the configuration and takes more time to setup. It also often crashes with very exciting traceback that hurt your eyes.

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Setting Up Ubuntu with Windows WSL

Setting up Ubuntu or any other Linux based system on Windows machine by using VitrualBox was your only option until recently. Over the last few years new possibility emerged. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) has been added to Windows 10 version 1607 in late 2016 and then to Windows Server 2019 edition.

Currently WSL has quite a few limitations like no default GUI support or many small bugs related to the files shared between Windows and Linux distro beside all the caveats it's stable enough to be used during the development without need to run VirtualBoxes or DualBoot.

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Setting up Tmux environment

Tmux is a fast and easy to use terminal multiplexer. It lets you switch easily between several programs in one terminal, detach them (they keep running in the background) and reattach them to a different terminal. And do a lot more.

It's an extremely useful piece of software, especially when working with remote server through SSH or just during some development work where you need to have a quick access to code, database, debugger and more in the same terminal window.

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