On Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2), it is possible to unregister a Linux distro (such as Ubuntu or Kali Linux) to reset it and start fresh with the distribution without re-downloading the container from the Microsoft Store.
When you unregister a distro on Windows 10, it will no longer be available in the WSL environment, and all the changes made will be discarded. The next time you launch the distro from the Start menu or Microsoft Store, it will start as if it was the first time, and you will need to go through the process to set it up again.
Microsoft defines the unregistering process as a way to uninstall the WSL2 distro, but without deleting the virtual machine from the device like the rest feature available in the Settings app.
In this guide, you will learn the steps to unregister and reinstall a distribution of Linux on the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 platform.
Unregister Linux distro on WSL2
To unregister a Linux distribution on WLS2, use these steps:
Open Start on Windows 10.
Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
Type the following command to view a list of all available distros and press Enter:
wsl --listQuick tip: You can also write the command like this:
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
Type the following command to confirm distros and press Enter:
Once you complete the steps, the distro will reset and no longer be available in WSL, but it won’t be uninstalled from the computer. If you want to reinstall the distro, click the Launch button from the Microsoft Store or select it from the Start menu to start over with the setup.