My Linux Journey 1: WSL
This is the first blog post in a series of posts that will be documenting my Linux journey. Let me start with how I discovered Linux and started using it.
I have been a Windows user for my whole life. My first operating system was either Windows 98 or Windows 2000. My daily driver is an HP Spectre x360 laptop running on Windows 10. My first exposure to Linux was using it during an internship for CFD simulations back in 2014. I had to remote onto a Linux server to run my complex CFD simulations that took days to run. The next time I used Linux is to run PyBaMM a python based battery modeling software using WSL in October 2021. This is because some of the solvers don't work in Windows and the documentation recommends using WSL for people who want to develop PyBaMM.
From Microsoft's documentation:
WSL or Windows Subsystem for Linux lets users run a Linux environment directly on Windows without the overhead of a traditional virtual machine or dual-boot setup. WSL is a type 1 hypervisor VM, which means no compatibility layer between itself and hardware. So, you are getting 100% of the performance, and it's as close to bare metal as a VM can be.
To get started just enter this command in a PowerShell:
To see a list of available distros:
wsl --list --online NAME FRIENDLY NAME Ubuntu Ubuntu Debian Debian GNU/Linux kali-linux Kali Linux Rolling openSUSE-42 openSUSE Leap 42 SLES-12 SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12 Ubuntu-16.04 Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu-18.04 Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Ubuntu-20.04 Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Then you can install your choice of distro (for example Ubuntu):
wsl --install -d Ubuntu
Finally, ensure that you are using WSL 2:
wsl --set-version <distro name> 2
You can then enter wsl with this simple command:
This takes you to Ubuntu's command line in the terminal you are using on Windows.
I chose Ubuntu as my distro as it is the most popular Linux out there and I've heard its name before. Also, for WSL the best available choice is Ubuntu as it was the first distro supported by WSL and is currently the distro with the best support and documentation.
Running Ubuntu on WSL
The first command I learnt and used in Ubuntu is the update command:
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
Afer this, the first thing I installed was
software-properties-common and then installing a PPA to get
python 3.9. I didn't know what a PPA was or that they have to be used with care. I just ran commands I needed to get the python version I needed to run PyBaMM.
sudo apt install software-properties-common sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa curl https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py -o get-pip.py python3.9 get-pip.py
I will spare you the other details about what I did in Ubuntu and move on to one of the best features of WSL in my opinion.
VS Code Integration
From the VS Code documentation:
The Visual Studio Code Remote - WSL extension lets you use the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) as your full-time development environment right from VS Code. You can develop in a Linux-based environment, use Linux-specific toolchains and utilities, and run and debug your Linux-based applications all from the comfort of Windows.
It is as simple as installing
Visual Studio Code Remote - WSL extension in your VS Code on Windows and then inside WSL navigate to your project folder and type:
This command opens your project folder that is on WSL in VS Code running on Windows. The best thing about this is that the experience is almost the same as working in VS Code normally on your project in Windows. All your VS Code settings, themes and extensions are there for your to use. The except is that some extensions like Python extension have to be installed seperately in WSL but that is sas simple as clicking a button.
As shown in this blog post, we can see that WSL is a useful tool for running a Linux environment in Windows and doing some coding using VS Code. Using WSL made me familiar with the common Linux commands for updating the system, installing packages, removing packages and other basic bash commands like
cp and the like. I had a good time using WSL and it made me more interested in Linux. Thus WSL was a starting point for my Linux Journey.