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How to install the Windows subsystem for Linux in Windows 11

Microsoft first provided a certain degree of Linux compatibility through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) introduced in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in 2016. The initial version of the utility is not perfect, especially because it uses a Linux-compatible kernel developed by Microsoft and not genuine. WSL 2 changed this in June 2019, integrating the complete Linux kernel directly into Windows 10 through the operating system’s built-in Hyper-V hypervisor.

Installing WSL used to be a complicated process, requiring manual activation of various services, downloading utilities, and installing without much help from Windows. However, with later versions of Windows 10, this situation has changed, and Windows 11 continues to make it easy to start using various Linux distributions in a lightweight virtual machine environment. Here is how to start using the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 11

1. Launch PowerShell or Command Prompt as a system administrator. It is easiest to do this by searching for “PowerShell” or “Command Prompt” from the “Start” menu. No matter which option you choose, don’t just press “Enter” to start the command line, because Windows will not let you install WSL as a normal user. Instead, you should click “Run as administrator” from the search results.

(Image source: techy’s hardware)

2. Enter the following command:

wsl --install

Assuming you started PowerShell (as shown in our example) or command prompt as an administrator, the command should automatically enable the services that WSL depends on, download the utility, and install everything it needs to run without any further enter. By default, it also downloads and installs Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution that can be found in everything from single board computers to enterprise servers.

(Image source: techy’s hardware)

3. Restart your computer. A notification should appear, telling you that WSL is installed and available after you restart your PC. You do not need to restart the system immediately, but if you do not, WSL will remind you that you need to restart the system the next time you try to perform any operation with the utility. So restart as soon as it is convenient.

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