The latest version of Microsoft’s Insider Preview Build includes a feature that allows users to directly access their Linux files in File Explorer.
There were previously several workarounds for this. Microsoft added a safe function which allowed Linux users to view files in their distros (distributions) in File Explorer with Windows 10 version 1903.
The feature uses Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), a compatibility layer which allows Windows 10 users to run Linux executables natively.
From within WSL, Linux users have to open the particular distro and type and run the “explorer.exe” command to view and access files.
Direct access from File Explorer
With Preview Build 19603, which is now available to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring, this UNC command is no longer necessary.
If these users have WSL installed and enabled, they will now find a path to their Linux distros in the left-hand navigation pane of the File Explorer window, complete with an icon of Tux the penguin, the official brand character of the Linux kernel.
Clicking on the Linux path will show the user all of their Linux distros. Selecting one of these will open the root file system for that particular distro.
Microsoft is expected to make WSL generally available with the next feature update of Windows 10 – version 2004 – which is set to be released later in April or May.
The Linux kernel will be available via Windows Update.
The image below shows what the feature looks like.
Storage cleaning recommendations
In addition the new Linux integration, Microsoft has added a storage cleanup recommendation tool which could be useful if rolled out for general use.
The company explained that Windows cannot predict whether users want to delete personal files, uninstall apps, or remove local copies of files synced to the cloud.
The new tool identifies unused content and gathers this on a single page, from where it can be easily removed.
The image below shows how the recommendation tool works.