How to reset WSL Linux distro on Windows 11

These are the two ways to reset Linux distros on WSL to fix problems or start over.

WSL reset Linux distros
WSL reset Linux distros

On Windows 11, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a virtualization platform that allows you to work with Linux distros alongside the host operating system. 

If you notice problems or have to start over with a specific Linux distribution, it’s possible to reset the distro on WSL using the Settings app or command line without removing and re-downloading anything.

This guide will teach you the steps to reset a Linux distro (such as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, Debian, or SUSE) to fix problems or reset the configuration on Windows 11. (See also how to install WSL on Windows 11.)

Reset Linux distro on WSL from Settings

To reset a Linux distribution on WSL for Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 11.

  2. Click on Apps.

  3. Click on Installed apps.

  4. Select the distro of Linux, click the menu (three-dotted) button, and click on Advanced options.

    Linux distro advanced options

  5. Click the Reset button.

    WSL reset distro with Settings

  6. (Optional) Click the Repair button.

    Quick tip: The process may take some time. If you can’t open the distro again, the repair option may help.

Once you complete the steps, the WSL distro will be reset, and you will need to go through the setup process again to start using it.

Reset Linux distro on WSL from Command Prompt

To unregister a Linux distro on WLS with 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 view the available distros and press Enter:

    wsl --list
  4. Type the following command to reset the WSL distro on Windows 11 and press Enter:

    wsl --unregister DISTRO-NAME

    In the command, replace “DISTRO-NAME” with the name of the distro to reset (see step 3). This example unregisters Ubuntu:

    wsl --unregister Ubuntu

    WSL unregister Linux distro

  5. (Optional) Type the following command to confirm the Linux distro has been unregistered and press Enter:

    wsl --list

After you complete the steps, the distro will reset and no longer be available on the Windows Subsystem for Linux. However, the distribution will continue to be available on the device. If you want to register it again, open it from the Start menu.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].