Debian and Kali Linux now available for download from the Microsoft Store
Kali Linux and Debian are the latest distros to populate the Microsoft Store. Those who wish to try out either distro can simply go to the Store and download them if they have the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) component installed. Kali Linux is a preferred choice for digital forensics and penetration testing while Debian is the foundation on which popular Linux flavors such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and even Kali are based.
WSL is a Windows 10 component that lets native Linux binaries execute in a Windows environment without the need to install a full fledged Linux distro or a deploy a virtual machine (VM). Early releases of WSL required users to install the distros via the Command Prompt. With the Fall Creators Update, several distros are available for download directly from the Microsoft Store making the installation process a cinch.
WSL is actually intended for developers to use cross platform development tools without having to hop between OSs. Therefore, all the distros available in the Store are command line interfaces and Microsoft does not officially support GUI apps or desktop environments (DEs). This is primarily because not all Linux syscalls are translated into Windows syscalls in the current iteration. However, there are workarounds to get GUI apps and even DEs to run in WSL. We tried installing the Xfce4 DE in a test system running Kali on WSL and were successful (see pic below), although the experience was a bit sluggish at times.
Do note that Kali on WSL is a barebones installation and most of the penetration testing tools such as Metaspoilt need to be installed manually via the Bash shell. Doing so will trigger false antivirus alarms so you might want to disable your antivirus before attempting to install such tools.
Kali and Debian join Ubuntu, openSUSE Leap 42, and SUSE Linux Enterprise 42 in the Store bringing the total number of available distros to 5. Fedora is also expected to make its presence felt soon and it will be followed by other distros as well.
For an introductory guide to WSL and how to get some popular Linux programs running natively under Windows, be sure to check out our extensive tutorial.
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