How to Check Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Versions

This post shows students and new users steps to check the version of Windows Subsystem of Linux (WSL) running on your system. WSL has two versions that one can install and run today.

When every major update, a new version number is added to the platform. Back in 2017, Microsoft released original WSL version 1 with Windows 10, and later WSL2 (version 2) that lets developers run a GNU/Linux environment, including most command-line tools, utilities, and applications directly in Windows without setting up a virtual machine or dual-boot.

WSL2 is the new and improved version comes with performance boost, full system call compatibility, and built with a new architecture and that delivers features that make WSL an amazing way to run a Linux environment in Windows.

If you want to find out which versions of WSL is running on your system, the commands below will show you how.

How to check WSL version in Windows 11

As mentioned above, there are two major versions of WSL one can install and run today. If your system is older and not compatible with WSL version 2, you’ll have to install version 1.

If you do not know which version you’re running, use the steps below to find out.

Click on the Start menu button, then search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator as shown below.

windows 11 powershell run as administrator

Once the commands prompt opens, type the commands below and press ENTER.

wsl.exe --list --verbose

The short version of the commands above can be written as:

wsl.exe -l -v

When you run the commands above, it will show the version of WSL you’re running on your system.

windows subsystem for linux version check

If the command returns 2, then WSL2 is installed. If you’re running WSL version 1 or WSL1, the command will return an error or won’t return any value. This is because the commands above was introduced in WSL2, and not available in version 1.

That should do it!


This post showed you how to check which versions of WSL is running on your system. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.

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