WSL or Windows Subsystem for Linux helps you run Linux binary executables on Windows machines. And, much like on Windows 10, the support for WSL on Windows 11 is still there.
Yes, you can also run Linux on your Windows machine as a virtual machine but WSL or WSL 2 is a better solution in the following ways:
- Lighter than a virtual machine and hence consumes lesser resources
- Natively integrated and support by the Windows operating system
- Easy and quick to setup and requires no 3rd-party softwares
- Boosts the development speed during cross device projects
However, using WSL is not recommended in the case of developing a GUI-based application as it doesn’t support GUI desktop apps.
Installing WSL on Windows 11
There are 2 ways to install WSL on Windows 11:
- Without command line (the non-techie way)
- Using command line (the techie way)
Let’s get through both of them…
Without Command Line
If you’re not familiar with the command line, don’t worry, you won’t need it in this way. Also, it’s the easiest way to install WSL on your Windows 11 computer.
Step 1: Enable Windows Subsystem for Linux
First of all, open the Windows search and search for the “Turn Windows features on or off” app (like shown in the screenshot below) and click on it to open.
After the app gets opened, scroll down till you see an option called Windows Subsystem for Linux — mark it checked. ☑️
(Since you didn’t have WSL enabled on your machine yet, it should be marked unchecked from earlier.)
After it’s checked, click on the OK button.
📢 After that, it’s very important to restart your computer (this may take a bit more time to restart than usual).
Step 2: Install your favorite Linux distro
You will have WSL enabled on your system as soon as the computer wakes after the restart. Now, it’s time to install the Linux distro of your choice.
First, open Microsoft Store and search for the Linux distro that you’re looking for and install. In my case, I will be installing Ubuntu 20.04 LTS as shown in the above screenshot.
Click on the Install button and it’ll take a few minutes to complete the installation process. And, as soon as it completes, your Windows 11 machine is now running Linux inside of it.
📢 You will have to again restart/reboot your computer after the installation gets finished.
Let’s see the other method to install WSL on Windows 11:
Using Command Line
If you understand the terminal commands, probably it’ll be easier for you to install WSL on your system.
Step 1: Install WSL from Windows Terminal
Right-click on the Start button and open Windows Terminal (Admin) as shown in the screenshot below.
After the terminal opens, run the following command to install WSL on the system.
The process will take a few minutes and you will have to restart your computer after that.
Step 2: Install your favorite distro
Now, it’s time to install the Linux distro of your choice.
Run the following command to see a list of all the available distros to install (see the below screenshot).
wsl -l -o
Make sure what distro you want to install and note down its exact Name from the left-side NAME column. Replace the NAME with the name of the distro that you want to install in the command below.
wsl --install -d NAME
For example, if you have to install Ubuntu 20.04 then the command would be:
wsl --install -d Ubuntu-20.04
Or, to install Debian, the command would be:
wsl --install -d Debian
It’ll take some time to finish and once more, you will have to reboot your computer after the installation process gets completed.
📢 Please note that you can also install multiple Linux distros on the WSL system.
Using WSL on Windows 11
There are 2 ways to launch the installed Linux distro on your machine:
☑️ Launch from the start menu (see the below screenshot)
When you start for the first time, you will have to provide a UNIX username and password. And, once the initial setup is complete, you will be able to use it.
☑️ Start directly from Windows Terminal (see the below screenshot)
Just click on the little dropdown arrow beside the plus button to see the option.
📢 Please note that you might not see the option for the installed Linux distro in the Windows Terminal dropdown. It will start appearing only after you complete the initial setup by launching the distro from the Start menu as explained in the previous step.
So that’s it. You can now start using the installed Linux distro on your newly set up WSL on Windows 11.
Frequently asked questions
How to solve the error 0x80370102 while launching the Linux distro?
After you try to run the installed Linux distro (Ubuntu or any other), you might get an error 0x80370102 saying “The Virtual machine could not be started because a required feature is not installed”.
There is a simple way to resolve that error, open the “Turn Windows features on or off” app by searching for it in the Start menu and mark “Virtual Machine Platform” as checked. Hit OK and you will have to restart your computer to apply the changes.
The error should get resolved by now.
How to resolve error 0x800701bc while starting the installed Linux distro?
Some users have also reported the error 0x800701bc saying “WSL 2 requires an update to its kernel component”. And, this solution seems to be working for some of the people.
However, it’s not confirmed yet. So, please be sure before applying the mentioned fix.
If you have a related query, feel free to let us know in the comments below.