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
Reset Linux distro on WSL2

The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) is a feature that allows you to run Linux distros alongside Windows 10. The most significant 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. 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.

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 10. (See also how to install WSL2 on Windows 10.)

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

  5. Click the Reset button.

    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, 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.

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

  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.

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 15 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 21 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].