Although Windows 10X remains missing in action, Microsoft dished up some more goodies for Linux fans in the latest Dev Channel build of Windows 10.

Microsoft opted to start by highlighting the, er, revolutionary “Search” feature to the Default Apps page now available to all Dev Channel Insiders in build 20211, however it was a tweak to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 that will be of most interest to the community.

Browsing a WSL2 Linux filesystem in Windows 10 has been a thing for a while now but the update allows a user to attach and mount a physical disk inside a WSL2 distribution and peer at it from Windows.

The feature will be useful for those who currently dual-boot Windows and Linux; a swift wsl -–mount with a valid drive path will permit access to the Linux filesystem (even those unsupported by Windows) from File Explorer.

The default filesystem is Ext4 (as beloved by the likes of Ubuntu), and filesystems that can be mounted are limited to those natively supported in the kernel. USB flash drives do not work at present (although USB disks should) and only entire disks can be attached to WSL2.

The feature had been teased earlier this week during microWSLConf 2020.

We took the build out for a spin, and while it is undoubtedly neat to see filesystems previously not easily accessible from Windows available within the File Explorer, some rough edges remain in this preview – the vEthernet adaptor in WSL2 has a habit of disconnecting itself after a while and issues persist with the wsl --install failing to, er, install the Linux kernel.

Heck, this is preview code after all and, as with everything in the Dev Channel, may never see the light of day. Unlike, alas, a nasty that appears to have turned up with Tuesday’s bumper batch of bug fixes for Windows 10 2004.

Nestled among all the updates lurked something that has broken WSL2 for some users with an “Element not found” error on start-up.

Other users reported a “The remote procedure call failed” error after the same update was applied by Windows Update.

Ben Hillis, a member of the WSL team at Microsoft, told users that the team was “actively investigating” and suggested that those affected uninstall KB4571756. Doing so seems to cure the borkage for most people, although many will be keen to have both the update and WSL2 working properly.

“Might break WSL” is, alas, not yet listed as a known issue for the update. ®



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