Since its acquisition in 2016, Local has gained many fans, particularly developers who had grown tired of debugging local development environments. Local has proven to be a reliable app that saves many wasted hours. It also allows developers to quickly switch between PHP and MySQL versions as well as Apache and nginx.
Overall, Local users enjoy the app’s features but have found performance to be a continual issue. Users reported having one-minute page loads in the backend, on small, uncomplicated sites. These speed issues began to drive users away from Local to other products, as many found that working locally was slower than creating a test site with their hosting companies.
Even booting up the app can be abysmally slow, as demonstrated in a video Griffiths shared announcing the Local Lightning beta:
“To chart a more reliable and powerful path forward, we’re rebuilding Local’s core architecture and moving away from virtualization in favor of native, system-level software to run WordPress locally,” Griffiths said.
The new Local Lightning app reduces system requirements and the minimum disk space requirement has decreased by more than 18GB. Griffiths also reports that the download size for Local is 50% less than before.
Local is also now available on Linux, thanks to the new architecture in the updated app. Linux availability has been a frequent request since Local was originally launched.
🤖 Hey, guess what? LOCAL IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR LINUX!
🐧 We’ve built it into the public beta of Local Lightning.
— Local by Flywheel (@LocalbyFlywheel) September 12, 2019
Local Lightning and Local by Flywheel have been developed as two separate applications in order to allow users to migrate their sites at their own pace. They can also run alongside each other and are named differently. “Local by Flywheel” is now the old version and the new Local Lightning app is simply known as “Local.” Users can migrate their sites by exporting from the old version and dragging them into the new app for automatic import. The beta is lacking some features that were previously available, including hot-swapping development environments and support for Varnish HTTP Cache. Griffiths’ team is working on restoring feature parity with the original app.
When asked in the product’s forums about the general release date, a Flywheel representative said that it “will definitely be by the end of the year.” Users who want to join the public beta can download the latest version for Mac, Windows, or Linux from the Local Lightning announcement post.