Simplified process

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

You can now install all the WSL components with a single command on Windows 11, and here's how to do it.

Windows 11 install WSL

On Windows 11, Microsoft simplifying the install process of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL) to only one command that downloads and installs all the required components, including the virtual machine platform and Linux GUI apps.

In addition, the command also installs the latest Ubuntu distro by default. If you prefer another distribution of Linux, there is an option to add in the command to select another distro install. Alongside the new quick and easy process, there’s a new command to make it easier to update the kernel with only one command.

In this guide, you will learn the easy steps to install the WSL platform on your device. In addition, we will outline the steps to update the Linux kernel on Windows 11. (See also the video tutorial to use this feature.)

Install WSL on Windows 11

To install Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 11 with Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 11.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to install the WSL on Windows 11 and press Enter:

    wsl --install

    Windows 11 install WSL
    Windows 11 install WSL
  4. Restart your computer to finish the WSL installation on Windows 11.

  5. Continue with the Linux distro setup as necessary.

Once you complete the steps, the required Linux components will install automatically on Windows 11 as well as the latest version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution.

Install WSL with specific distro on Windows 11

If you prefer another flavor of Linux, the WSL2 command includes an option to view and select a different distro.

To install WSL with a specific distro on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to view a list of available WSL distros you can install on Windows 11 and press Enter:

    wsl --list --online
    Quick note: At the time of this writing, you can install Ubuntu, Debian, Kali Linux, openSUSE, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
  4. Type the following command to install the WSL with a specific distro on Windows 11 and press Enter:

    wsl --install -d DISTRO-NAME
    Windows 11 install WSL specific distro
    Windows 11 install WSL specific distro

    In the command remember to replace “DISTRO-NAME” for the name of the distro you want to install, such as Debian.

  5. Restart your computer to finish the WSL installation on Windows 11.

  6. Continue with the Linux distro setup as necessary.

After you complete the steps, the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 components will install along with the distro of Linux you specified. 

Update WSL kernel on Windows 11

To update the WSL kernel to the latest version using Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to update the WSL kernel on Windows 11 and press Enter:

    wsl --update

    Windows 11 WSL update command
    Windows 11 WSL update command

Once you complete the steps, if an update is available, then it will download and install on your computer.

Install WSL from Microsoft Store

In addition to installing WSL with a single command, you can now also download all the components as an app from the Microsoft Store. The benefit of using this approach is that feature will run isolated from Windows 11, and updates will be available through the Microsoft Store without waiting for the next version of the OS to install the newest version.

To install WSL from the Microsoft Store, use these steps:

1. Enable Virtual Machine Platform

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Turn Windows Features on or off and click the top result to open the page.

  3. Check the Virtual Machine Platform option.

    Virtual Machine Platform

  4. Click the OK button.

  5. Click the Restart button.

After you complete the steps, you can proceed to download the app from the Microsoft Store.

2. Download Windows Subsystem for Linux app

  1. Open the Windows Subsystem for Linux app page.

  2. Click the Get button.

  3. Click the Open button.

  4. Click the Get button again.

    Microsoft Store WSL install

Once you complete the steps, WSL will install on Windows 11, including the support for Linux GUI apps.