How To Install Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL2) On Windows 11


In this article, I will explain how we can install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) on windows 11.

Windows Subsystem for Linux

Microsoft's Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL) is a technology that allows Linux to operate natively on Windows. It's intended to be a seamless experience, offering a full Linux shell that can interact with your Windows disc.

WSL allows you to install a whole Linux distribution from the app store as an app. Simply download Ubuntu (or your preferred distribution), install it, and have it ready as a launchable program or a profile in your terminal to run alongside CMD or Powershell. WSL is designed to provide developers and bash veterans with the Linux shell experience despite the fact that Windows is the primary operating system. It combines the best of both worlds by letting you run Windows applications like Visual Studio with a Linux shell for quicker command-line access.

Why use Windows Subsystem for Linux

WSL requires fewer resources (CPU, memory, and storage) than a full virtual machine. WSL also allows you to run Linux command-line tools and apps alongside your Windows command-line, desktop, and store apps, and to access your Windows files from within Linux. This enables you to use Windows apps and Linux command-line tools on the same set of files if you wish.

WSL 1 vs WSL 2

WSL is available from Microsoft in two versions: version 1 and version 2. WSL 2 runs on a virtual machine and makes use of a full Linux kernel that is produced and distributed with Windows. WSL 1 is older and typically slower, but it performs better when working across filesystems, such as reading Windows files from Linux and vice versa. WSL 2 is our recommendation for most operations because it is quicker and works much better with technologies like Docker.

Feature WSL 1 WSL 2
Integration between Windows and Linux Yes Yes
Fast boot times Yes Yes
Small resource footprint compared to traditional Virtual Machines Yes Yes
Runs with current versions of VMware and VirtualBox Yes Yes
Managed VM No Yes
Full Linux Kernel No Yes
Full system call compatibility No Yes
Performance across OS file systems Yes No

Install WSL2

Step 1

Open Command Prompt as administrator. Or you can open Windows Powershell.

Step 2

Execute the following command

wsl --install

Step 3

Restart your computer to finish installation on Windows 11.

Step 4

Continue with Ubuntu distro setup as necessary.

Install WSL2 with specific distro on Windows 11

Step 1

Open Command Prompt as administrator. Or you can open Windows Powershell.

Step 2

Execute the following command to list the available distros.

wsl --list --online

Step 3

Type the following command to install the WSL with a specific distro on Windows 11 and press Enter

wsl --install -d DISTRO-NAME

  • Ubuntu – Allows one to use Ubuntu Terminal and run Ubuntu command line utilities including bash, ssh, git, apt, and many more.

  • Debian GNU/Linux – A complete Debian command-line environment for the current stable release

  • Kali – An open-source penetration testing and ethical hacking distribution.

  • openSUSE Leap 42 – A stable, easy to use, and complete multi-purpose Linux distribution.

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 (SLES) – A world-class, secure open-source server operating system, built to power physical, virtual and cloud-based mission-critical workloads.

For example:

wsl --install -d Ubuntu-20.04

Step 3

Restart your computer to finish installation on Windows 11.

Step 4

Continue with ubuntu distro setup as necessary. After you complete all the steps, the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 components will install along with the distro of Linux you specified.

Install WSL2 from Microsoft Store

To install WSL2 from the store, you need to check if the "Virtual Machine Platform" platform is on or off, to check that please follow the steps:

1. Open Start.

2. Search for Turn Windows Features on or off and click the top result to open the page.

3. Check the Virtual Machine Platform option.

4. Click the OK button.

5. Click the Restart button.

After we are done enabling the "Virtual Machine Platform" feature, we can go to the Microsoft Store.

1. Open the Store App from the start menu.

2. Search for the Distro name you want to install. I want to install "Ubuntu 18"

3. Click the Install button.

4. After the install process completes, you will see a start menu shortcut for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Useful Commands

Update WSL wsl --update
Install WSL wsl --install
Install a specific Linux Distribution wsl --install --distribution <Distribution Name> or wsl --install -d <Distribution Name>
List all available Distribution wsl --list --online
List all installed Distributions wsl --list --verbose
Set WSL version from 1 to 2 wsl --set-version <distribution name> <versionNumber>
Set default WSL version wsl --set-default-version <Version>
Set default Linux distribution wsl --set-default <Distribution Name>
Change directory to home wsl ~
Run a specific Linux distribution from PowerShell or CMD wsl --distribution <Distribution Name> --user <User Name>
Check WSL status wsl --status
List of options and commands available with WSL wsl --help
Run as a specific user wsl -u <Username>`, `wsl --user <Username>
Change the default user for a distribution <DistributionName> config --default-user <Username>
To shutdown WSL wsl --shutdown
To terminate or stop from running a specific distribution wsl --terminate <Distribution Name>
Export a distribution to a TAR file wsl --export <Distribution Name> <FileName>
Import a new distribution wsl --import <Distribution Name> <InstallLocation> <FileName>
Unregister or uninstall a Linux distribution wsl --unregister <DistributionName>
Mount a disk or device wsl --mount <DiskPath>


In this article, we discussed how we can install WSL2 on Windows 11.

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