What tag name should we use for Windows Subsystem for Linux?

The right answer is of course , except that it's too long: tags are limited to 25 characters.

WSL is an obvious choice but it's an obscure abbreviation that few people recognize at this stage. Maybe it'll become sensible in a few years.

What's the least bad abbreviation then?

In the meantime I've created , which is at least comprehensible but not so discoverable and not good in searches. Moderators please synonymize when we find a good name.

  • Why is it "not so discoverable and not good in searches"?
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 8:21
  • @terdon Because the name contains “for”, and if someone includes that word, they won't find the tag. Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:13
  • @Gilles even if the excerpt contains it?
    – muru
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 13:26
  • Not sure you but if they type "windows-sub" the only tag that will appear will be that one, as we don't have any other tag with that prefix (there are only 3 "windows" tags at the moment).
    – Braiam
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 20:43
  • @slm it's a pity wsl wasn't made a synonym, now I have to use sub as the shortest phrase that can get that tag to appear in the list
    – muru
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 6:31

4 Answers 4


A windows subsystem for Linux makes me think of X11, some subsystem to manage windows on Linux.

After googling it, it looks more like it's some Microsoft product to run GNU/Unix/Ubuntu applications on Microsoft Windows operating systems, rather than something like wine to run MS Windows applications on Linux-based systems as the name would suggest.

IMO, microsoft-wsl (with a link to the Microsoft page in the description) would be better as it hides the ambiguous name and makes it clear it's a Microsoft product.

A microsoft-wsl google search seems to only bring up relevant links.


The tag length limit has been raised, so is now a valid tag name.


I'm in favor of windows-subsystem-linux as it starts with "windows", and so jumps out in our short list of tags that start with "windows"; and Windows is the base OS.

WSL could be a synonym, just in case someone tries it. World Surf League is an unlikely collision. Ditto Windows scripting language.



For another perspective:

Stéphane Chazelas is wrong about it being a Microsoft product. It's a combined Canonical and Microsoft product, with Microsoft providing the kernel and Canonical providing the shell.

As you can see from SuperUser and AskUbuntu, in fact people normally ask about the Canonical-supplied parts. There's the odd question here and there about, say, terminal emulator behaviour on consoles but there are questions about the Canonical parts ranging from the behaviour of apt-get through how to run a C compiler to not using initctl when there's no Upstart (which latter is asked as much about Ubuntu 15/16 as it is about the Windows Subsystem for Linux; for the same toolsets with the same install/deinstall procedures, even).

  • 6
    WSL is (part of) a Microsoft product. "Bash on Ubuntu on Windows" may be a combined product, but WSL is the syscall/session manager/ELF64 pico hosts with no particular tie to Canonical, although that's the only supported configuration (but you can run other distributions if you want). Ubuntu questions by rule go on AU, so the tag here would be for questions that are either general or using something else. We don't want a "no Ubuntu except Windows" carve-out (!), just a tag for the ones that are on-topic. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 9:24
  • 1
    It's wsl on AU because it's wsl on SO. I personally wiped the ubuntu-on-windows tag from posts after wsl started catching on. That's why it has zero questions.
    – muru
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 13:24
  • 1
    Your objection M. Homer that we should not allow Ubuntu on Windows NT questions because we should not allow Ubuntu questions at all is misplaced here, as it's an implied premise of the question of how to tag them that they are. You might want to take your objection up with the right people, or at least post your own let's not have this tag at all answer. Whilst you are doing so, re-read the part here that discusses this from the perspective of what questions people are asking, and therefore the scope of the tag(s), which is not anywhere near limited to the Microsoft part.
    – JdeBP
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 13:53
  • I don't think Canonical is contributing much, the shell is from Microsoft, the compatibility layer as well, as is the odd /init executable. It's basically just a standard x86-64 Ubuntu with some packages removed and few settings changed.
    – phk
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 20:53

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