How to Login as root on Ubuntu with Windows WSL

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to login as root when using Ubuntu on Windows WSL environment.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a tool 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.

You can run full Linux operating systems inside Windows easily. We have written many tutorials on installing different Linux distributions on Windows WSL.

Now that you have Ubuntu installed with WSL, do you know how to logon as a root user? By default, after installing Ubuntu, you’ll be prompted to create a normal user account.

This account will be added to the sudoers file which gives the account sudo permission. However, this is not root.

Now, I don’t think you should login as root on Linux machine. But there might be some cases where you’ll need to login as root to perform some critical tasks.

The day you need to logon as root, then tutorial should come in handy.

Log on as root

As you can see, when you launch the Ubuntu WSL app, it logs directly into the normal user account. See the below screen shot.

ubuntu logon as root wsl

The first user after installing is the default account.

Now, to start Ubuntu WSL app and log in as root instead, use the steps below.

First, close the Ubuntu console prompt for the normal user.

Then open Windows command prompt by clicking the start button and finding Commend Prompt or searching for it as shown in the image below.

windows command prompt

When the command Prompt opens, type the commands below to configure Ubuntu WSL app to login as root instead of a normal user account.

ubuntu start wsl as root


ubuntu config --default-user root

Ubuntu 20.04:

ubuntu2004 config --default-user root

Ubuntu 18.04:

ubuntu1804 config --default-user root

After running the command above for the respective Ubuntu version, go and start up Ubuntu WSL app and this time the root account should be logged in.

You can see that the root account is logged in.

ubuntu root login console

Now do that you intend to do with the root account. When you’re done, exit.

You need to log back in with the normal account. Simply relaunch Windows Comment Prompt again and run the commands below replacing the root user with the normal account.

ubuntu2004 config --default-user richard

Replace richard with your own account.

ubuntu normal user login

There you go.

That should do it!


This post showed you how to logon as root when using Ubuntu on WSL. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.


  1. Why not just use the normal method with the “su” command. Works just fine for me and is a lot easier and faster.

  2. Thanks! I just needed to set up my user in sudoers and now I won’t have to do this anymore. But that first time I had no idea what to do.

  3. Yeah it does work on nearly everything but for “wget -q0” commands, it won’t work. Those commands will require one to run it as the actual root for the host system.

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