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How to upgrade to WSL2 from WSL1 on Windows 10

If you're still using WSL1, you can update to WSL2 and convert distros without reinstalling them, and here's how on Windows 10.

WSL2 upgrade on Windows 10

On Windows 10, you can upgrade the Windows Subsystem for Linux platform to version 2, including existing distros, and in this guide, you’ll learn how. The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) is the new version of the implementation that uses a lightweight virtual machine instead of a direct translation between both operating systems, providing significant improvements on performance and complete call compatibility support.

If you’ve been running the first version of the implementation on Windows 10, you can update to Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 and convert the existing Linux installations with a package download to update the kernel and a few PowerShell commands.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to upgrade WSL to WSL2 and convert Linux distros to version 2 on Windows 10.

Upgrade from WSL to WSL2 on Windows 10

To upgrade from the first version of WSL to WSL2, use these steps:

  1. Download this WSL2 kernel update (required).

  2. Double-click the wsl_update_x64.msi file and apply the update.

  3. Open Start.

  4. Search for PowerShell, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  5. Type the following command to set Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 your default architecture for new distros you’ll install and press Enter:

    wsl --set-default-version 2

    Enable WSL 2 on Windows 10 20H1
    Enable WSL 2 on Windows 10 20H1
  6. Type the following command to get a list of all the distros installed on your device and press Enter:

    wsl -l -v
  7. Type the following command to convert the distro from WSL 1 to WSL 2 and press Enter:

    wsl --set-version DISTRO-NAME 2
    Convert distro WSL 1 to WSL 2 on Windows 10 20H1
    Convert distro WSL 1 to WSL 2 on Windows 10 20H1

    In the command, make sure to replace DISTRO-NAME for the actual name of the Linux distribution.

  8. Type the following command to verify the version of the distro and press Enter:

    wsl --list --verbose

    Check distro using Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 on PowerShell
    Check distro using Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 on PowerShell
  9. Confirm the distros are set to version 2.

Once you complete the steps, you may need to repeat steps 7 through 10 to convert the remaining distros to version 2.