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Running Fedora under Windows 10

If you can't make it to the regular SILUG meetings, you miss out on a lot
of really good information. Example: how to run Fedora under Windows 10.
Until I solve a boot-time driver problem with the distributed installation
and live ISOs -- probably with mdadm and mkinitrd -- I can't install and
run Fedora on my new ThinkPad P72 laptop which came with Windows 10
pre-installed. Its SSDs are managed by an Intel RST RAID chipset not
currently supported by any Fedora distribution.

Before you are misled by the subject line, the words "running" and "under"
do NOT imply "installing and running natively". There is, however, a new
"almost" capability that effectively installs and runs a heavily modified
Linux in a container running on the Windows kernel and using a thin "shim"
layer of code. There are some functional differences that anyone expecting
to see a GNOME desktop, for example, will quickly spot. There is no
desktop, and no support for Linux kernel drivers. Among many other things,
this means WSL supports only the host NTFS filesystem and does all of its
network access through the host network port & IP address.

Starting with Windows 10 release 1803 -- and further refined in the most
recent release 1809 -- Microsoft has added support for a variety of Linux
distributions under their Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) project. Like
the original Interix and other UNIX implementations for Windows, these are
actually implemented with containers. As of 12/11/18 they've added Fedora
to their list which includes Android and Ubuntu, and this "Fedora Remix
for WSL" can be found in the Microsoft Store for a limited time for $5.

Before you can install anything for WSL, you must first enable the service.

(1) First run "winver" to ensure you're running build 1803 or later.
(2) Do a Google search for "Enable WSL Windows 10" and follow the simple
(3) Browse to
in the Microsoft Store. For a limited time, this will cost $5. Yeah,
paying for Fedora rubbed me the wrong way too until I realized this small
one-time fee goes not to Microsoft but to Whitewater Foundry, Ltd. Co.,
the folks who built the container.
(4) For X support, browse to "https://sourceforge.net/projects/vcxsrv",
download, and install their Windows X server.

When you have downloaded and installed Fedora Remix for WSL (very quick),
you'll find it in the Windows Start menu's "Recently added" section. This
will open a bash prompt. After creating a WSL user account, you should run
"sudo dnf update". This will update Fedora just like a native
installation. You'll probably notice kernel package updates. They'll be
installed like before, but never actually used. Oh sure, you'll see an
/etc/fedora-release file that says you're running Fedora 29, but if you
run "uname -a" it will report that you're actually running the Windows
kernel. Remember, this is a container running in Windows 10.

Before you try to run anything but command-line Fedora apps, start the
Windows X server. It will open and sit in your tool bar awaiting any
graphical application needing X server display (e.g. xterm).

To start most graphical Fedora X applications, you'll need to prefix it
with the classic DISPLAY parameter. For example:

   [doc@JAGUAR ~]$ DISPLAY=:0 xterm &

With certain structural limits you'll be able to use this Fedora container
to do any administrative tasks from your Windows 10 workstation that you
once needed a true Fedora box.


Robert G. (Doc) Savage
Fairview Heights, IL

"Perfection is the enemy of good enough."
          -- Admiral of the Fleet Sergei G. Gorshkov

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