How to set default Linux distro WSL on Windows 11

You can set any Linux distro as the default on Windows 11, and in this guide, you will learn how.

Windows 11 WSL set default distro
Windows 11 WSL set default distro

On Windows 11, you can run multiple Linux distros through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The only caveat is that the first distro installed on the system will become the default automatically.

Although this won’t prevent you from accessing the distro, when you run the “WSL” command, the default distribution will start automatically. However, the platform includes an option to change the default settings of any other distro available on Windows 11.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to make your preferred distro the new default on Windows 11.

Set default WSL Linux distro on Windows 11

To set any Linux distro as the default on WSL, 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 view a list of all available distros and press Enter:

    wsl --list

    Quick tip: You can also use this variant wsl -l of the command.
  4. Type the following command to set the Linux distro as the new default on WSL and press Enter:

    wsl --setdefault DISTRO-NAME

    In the command, replace “DISTRO-NAME” with the name of the distro to set it as default (see step 3). For instance, this command makes Ubuntu Linux the default distro on Windows 11:

    wsl --setdefault Ubuntu

    WSL change default distro command

    Quick tip: You can also use this variant wsl -s Ubuntu of the command.

Once you complete the steps, when you run the “WSL” command, the default distro will start automatically on Windows 11.

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 About.me. Email him at [email protected].