How to Install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 11

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 11.

Back in 2017, Windows released Windows Subsystem for Linux 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 has since been released, and it’s an improvement over version 1. 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.

When you’re ready to enable WSL on Windows 11, follow the steps below:

Install Windows Subsystem for Linux

To enable WSL in Windows, you will want to open the Command Prompt terminal as administrator. Click on Start then begin typing Command Prompt.

Next, right-click Command Prompt app and choose to Run as administrator.

When the console opens, run the commands below:

wsl --install

Wait for WSL 2 to be installed.

After installing, you should get a success message similar to the lines below:

Installing: Virtual Machine Platform
Virtual Machine Platform has been installed.
Installing: Windows Subsystem for Linux
Windows Subsystem for Linux has been installed.
Downloading: WSL Kernel
Installing: WSL Kernel
WSL Kernel has been installed.
Downloading: GUI App Support
Installing: GUI App Support
GUI App Support has been installed.
Downloading: Ubuntu
The requested operation is successful. Changes will not be effective until the system is rebooted.

Restart your computer.

WSL should be installed and ready to use. When you want to update, simply run the commands below:

wsl --update

Install Specific Linux distro

Now that WSL is installed, you can now install Linux distro of your choice. To list the available distributions to install, simply run the commands below:

wsl --list --online

You should then see all available distributions that can be installed on WSL.

NAME            FRIENDLY NAME
Ubuntu          Ubuntu
Debian          Debian GNU/Linux
kali-linux      Kali Linux Rolling
openSUSE-42     openSUSE Leap 42
SLES-12         SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12
Ubuntu-16.04    Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Ubuntu-18.04    Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
Ubuntu-20.04    Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

To install a Linux distribution from the list above, simply run the commands below using the distribution name. For example, to install Ubuntu 20.04, run the commands below:

wsl --install -d ubuntu-20.04

You should then get a message that the distribution is installed.

Downloading: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Installing: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Ubuntu 20.04 LTS has been installed.
Launching Ubuntu 20.04 LTS...

After installing, you should get a Ubuntu command console with setup details.

Installing, this may take a few minutes...
Please create a default UNIX user account. The username does not need to match your Windows username.
For more information visit: https://aka.ms/wslusers
Enter new UNIX username: Richard
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully
Installation successful!
To run a command as administrator (user "root"), use "sudo <command>".
See "man sudo_root" for details.

Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-22000-Microsoft x86_64)

Some troubleshooting commands to run when you run into issues.

wsl --set-default-version 1
bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto start

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to install WSL 2 on Windows 11 and install Ubuntu 20.04. If you find any error above please use the comment form below to report.

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