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SubjectRe: [QUESTION] Microsoft, WSL, and the Linux trademark
Mr. Caputo,

Please allow me to address some of the concerns you raised.

The Linux trademark is owned by Linus Torvalds and administered by the Linux Foundation through the Linux Mark Institute: The Linux trademark can be used by third parties subject to a Sublicense Agreement: The terms of the Sublicense Agreement permit the use of the Linux trademark for derivative goods and services that deploy, document, facilitate the use of, or enhance Linux­-based goods.

WLinux does contain a bootable Linux kernel in a base image. The criticism that 'WSL is not Linux' is because the kernel is not executed when the base image is installed and run from within the WSL layer on Windows 10. But WLinux can be used to patch and build the Linux kernel from sources to install on other devices, assist in deploying and configuring Linux on other devices, and can cross-compile software using standard Linux libraries, all when running on WSL. For more about how WSL works for those unfamiliar: WLinux unquestionably contains derivations of the Linux kernel, relies on the WSL re-implementation of Linux kernel syscalls, and facilitates the use of and enhances Linux-based goods, all within the terms of the Linux Sublicense Agreement.

We obtained a valid Sublicense Agreement for the use of the Linux trademark from the Linux Foundation before launching WLinux. All of our intellectual property compliance disclosures are here:

Users who purchase WLinux from the Microsoft Store are supporting the Linux ecosystem and free software generally. Everyone working on WLinux are Windows and Linux users who are committed to making the Linux software ecosystem accessible to as many people as possible regardless of what device or operating system they are on. WLinux and WSL generally opens up new possibilities for bringing people to the Linux ecosystem, cross-platform development, and expanding access to free software and free software development tools.

WLinux builds in a number of value-added enhancements and features, we provide end user support, and work with various developer communities and other open source companies to try to make it easy to get into the Linux ecosystem from Windows 10. We make it easy to get up and running with Go, Ruby, other dev toolchains, soon Docker, install various editors, configure predictive text input for non-Latin input, and implement a handful of other tweaks to defaults. I personally do not believe a frontend dev stepping into Linux should have to know how to partition and dual-boot a system, or even have to learn Docker, to get started using node.js and trying different packages off npm. They will get to that.

Many WLinux users are going to end up working on traditional server Linux eventually, if they don't already, as many of our users seem to work in hybrid environments as it is. I imagine a few will end up trying and then switching to desktop Linux, again if they don't use it already. But desktop Linux is just one small part of Linux, WLinux is not here to replace it, and WSL is not capable of doing so in it's current limitations. Users are not being 'tricked'. Free upstream distros from Canonical, Debian, SuSE, and Kali are available where you can implement our tweaks and custom packages manually. Of the many copies we have sold we have only had two refund requests which we have promptly honored. Users always have the option of building WLinux from source using instructions we provide. WLinux is also heavily discounted or free in many less developed countries.

We turn the funds WLinux earns around to hire open source developers, sponsor bug and feature bounties, donate to upstream projects, and cover overhead. We are profitable and expect to pay out over $2,000 USD in bounties this month alone after being on the store for just six weeks. We are focused on building a sustainable commercial open source project that can direct our own development resources where we see fit to improve the Linux experience on WSL for us, the users of Linux on WSL. Microsoft has had absolutely zero input into how we have evolved WLinux besides open source code of theirs we have used.

Hayden Barnes
Whitewater Foundry, Ltd. Co.

> In reading the news today, I stumbled across an article talking about a $20 "linux-based distro" app for Windows 10.
> This is just a bundled userspace for WSL, there is no actual Linux in this thing, yet the trademarked Linux name is used throughout.
> Did Microsoft license the trademark or something? Did I miss a memo? Does their joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member two years ago include such use of the trademark?
> I'm confused by what seems to be total silence about what _appears_ to be an obvious large-scale trademark abuse in everything WSL-related.
> Could somebody informed please shed some light on this?
> The situation strikes me as harmful to the kernel as the majority of folks being introduced to "Linux" this way will be tricked into thinking they're using/supporting Linux.
> Has the Linux Foundation deliberately turned a blind eye to this trademark abuse because MS is throwing money at them or is it a formal licensing situation? Do we, the community, even have any right to know what's going on?

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