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Please enable WSL to run 32 bit ELF binaries

It seems that executing 32bit ELF binaries results in "Exec format error" - guessing the kernel doesn't have 32 bit emulation support (compilation is fine, but precompiled binaries don't run). A vast number of legacy programs are still 32 bit, please add support if it won't completely destroy everything in the process - thanks!

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    Anonymous shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    109 comments

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      • Alexey commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        32bit ELF is necessary for me because i need to use gcc and nasm in 32bit mode in my student projects. We study 32bit architecture and supporting ELF 32 is crucial especially for assembler.

      • Lutz commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        When I first came to this issue I wondered that GCC Linker could not link. This was because he did not find the libraries. OK, they were missing. But I thought I have them because I used apt-clone to get all the pakets installed on WSL I previously had on a (L)Ubuntu machine. Unfortunately the i386 version of a library (libusb) did not install.
        So linking against a 32 bit library has to be done another way. I guess I have to copy the files somewhere and point the linker to it.

        I am pretty aware that I could not *run* 32 bit binaries, but for me it is enough to compile 32 bit binaries (as part of an automated build process).

        My conclusion: WSL is fine, Thank You, but not perfect (as nobody is!).

        If it is possible to enable WSL for 32 bit binaries you have my thumb up.

      • ty-japan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        My campany gets chance to stop managing LINUX server when 32bit ELF works on WSL.

      • Peter commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I just stumbled across this problem. It brought my research project to a screeching halt. I'll probably find a Mac that no one in the lab is using and build on that.

        For what it's worth, I think it would be best to not enable this by default but to allow for multiarch support.

      • Ricky Neff commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        DO WHAT HE SAYS OR ELSE, no seriously. Why the **** is windows a 32/64 but WSL is only a 64. That makes 0 sense.

      • Stefan Matyba commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Lack of 32-Bit support is a deal breaker for me, too bad. I was really excited when I first tried WSL and REALLY hope that this will be fixed soon

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Not possible to run some toolchains. If there is no plan to support 32 bit elf the only solution it to move back to native Linux system

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Was looking forward to using WSL, but without 32-bit support we can't test our embedded systems code. Therefore, there isn't a use case with WSL for us.

      • Baligh commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        ELF-32 is a must for embedded development, for using prebuild toolchains.
        And since WSL is for developers, you can not just ignore that.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree, this is a major issue with a lot of legacy applications which require major re-work to get them to compile to x64. Be nice to just use the old ELF executables.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Like many others here, ditching WSL and going back to a VM - it was nice but short experiment. I need to be able to run ELF-32 binaries for embedded (NVidia's Jetson TX2 toolchain). Please add support for ELF-32 and I will take another look.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I'm surprised WSL, a feature clearly aimed at developers, doesn't support 32-bit apps. This cuts out mobile and embedded developers. Not all devs are writing JavaScript in Sublime Text you know.

        I was excited about WSL because I thought I'd be able to do my Linux-related development directly on Windows, but as a result of this, I can't use it. I absolutely must be able to cross-compile using a 32-bit toolchain.

        I'll go back to using a dedicated Linux VM. Spending 50% of my time in WSL and another 50% in a VM is less productive than using the VM 100% of the time. What a shame.

        I hope WSL is a work-in-progress and its experience will be more complete eventually, otherwise what's the point of it all?

      • Mike M commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Or to put it another way "you'd have to be an idiot to use WSL".

        If you build your infrastructure around it, you run the risk that some major bug will crop up, and just like this one Microsoft will go "Nah, can't be bothered. Tough."

      • Mykhailo Parfeniuk commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We have 32 bit toolchain for embedded devices and 32-bit linux testsuits, absence of 32 bit support prevents us from developing on Windows as single platform. I think this decision is really shortsighted and makes WSL usefulness questionable.

      • MGeo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Ok thanks. Will have to go back to Linux to cross-compile ARM for work.

      • Guy Sherman commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Fair enough. If I think back to why I voted for it in the first place it was because some of the tools involved with building android apps are still 32-bit only. Google should probably bring their toolchain into the 21st century!

      • Nigel Hathaway commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Windows itself, in its 64-bit version, allows you to run 'legacy' 32-bit applications. If it didn't, 64-bit Windows would be pretty useless, as there as so many pre-compiled 32-bit applications that people have to use to get their jobs done. The same is true of Linux. I, like many people, do Linux development in a VM under Windows. I tried out WSL, but it fails in so many different ways, this being just one of them. My conclusion is: WSL is not ready for prime time. When the response is 'we have no plans to fix this', then I doubt it will ever be useful, at least not for developers like myself. It leaves me wondering who WSL is really aimed at.

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