Starting over

How to reset WSL2 Linux distro on Windows 10

If you need to start over or have problems with a Linux distro using WSL2, you can reset it using the Settings app, and here's how.

Reset Linux distro on WSL2

The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) is a useful feature that allows you to run Linux distros alongside Windows 10. The biggest advantage of version 2 over version 1 is the new lightweight virtual machine architecture that offers better system performance and full support for call compatibility, rather than a direct translation between both operating systems.

Also, since the distributions are available through the Microsoft Store, they install and behave like an app. This means that if you are having problems or need to start over with a specific Linux distro, you can reset the distribution running on WSL2 using the Settings app or command line without removing and redownloading the bits to start over.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to reset a Linux distro (such as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, Debian, or SUSE) to fix problems or reset the configuration on Windows 10. (See also how to install WSL2 on Windows 10.)

How to reset Linux distro on WSL2 with Settings

To reset a Linux distribution on the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 10.

  2. Click on Apps.

  3. Click on Apps & features.

  4. Select the distribution of Linux and click the Advanced options link.

    Linux app advanced options
    Linux app advanced options
  5. Click the Reset button.

    Reset Linux distro
    Reset Linux distro
  6. (Optional) Click the Repair button.

    Quick tip: Give the reset a few minutes. If you can’t open the distro again, then the repair option may help.

Once you complete the steps, the Linux distro will be reset. If you want to start it over, you will need to go through the setup process one more time.

How to reset Linux distro on WSL2 with command line

To unregister a Linux distro on WLS2 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 a list of all available distros and press Enter:

    wsl --list
    Quick tip: You can also write the command like this: wsl -l.
  4. Type the following command to set a distro as the new default and press Enter:

    wsl --unregister DISTRO-NAME

    In the command, replace DISTRO-NAME for the name of the distro you want to set as default (see step No. 3).

    For example, this command unregisters Kali Linux:

    wsl --unregister Kali-linux

    WSL2 unregister command
    WSL2 unregister command
  5. Type the following command to confirm distros 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 distro will remain installed on the computer. If you want to register it again, click the Launch button from the Microsoft Store or select it from the Start menu.