How to Utilize Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) on Windows 11

The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) is a groundbreaking feature that enables a genuine Linux kernel to run directly on a Windows system. With this, developers and IT professionals can seamlessly operate Linux distributions alongside existing Windows applications, maximizing productivity and flexibility.

Terms Related to WSL 2

  • WSL 2: The second version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux that integrates a real Linux kernel into Windows.
  • Kernel: The core component of an operating system that directly communicates with hardware.
  • Linux Distribution: Variants of the Linux operating system which include the Linux kernel and assorted software packages.
  • Hyper-V: A virtualization technology from Microsoft.

Why Use WSL 2 on Windows 11

WSL 2 offers significant performance enhancements over its predecessor, WSL 1. With its actual Linux kernel, it provides increased file system performance and complete system call compatibility, crucial for developers who require an authentic Linux experience on a Windows platform.

Steps to Set Up WSL 2 on Windows 11

  1. Verify System Prerequisites

    Ensure virtualization capabilities are activated in the BIOS or UEFI settings of the computer.

  2. Enable WSL and Virtual Machine Platform

    Navigate to Control Panel -> Programs -> Turn Windows features on or off. Here, select both the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" and "Virtual Machine Platform" options. Restart the computer after making these selections.

  3. Install a Linux Distribution

    Visit the Microsoft Store and search for preferred Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora. Click "Install" on the chosen distribution.

  4. Set WSL 2 as the Default Version

    Open the command prompt and execute the following command:

    wsl --set-default-version 2

    This ensures that WSL 2 is the default version for any new Linux distributions.

  5. Launch and Configure the Linux Distribution

    Open the installed Linux distribution from the Start menu. On the first launch, enter a UNIX username and password which will be used for the Linux environment.


With WSL 2 on Windows 11, the boundaries between Windows and Linux are ever more blurred, offering developers an unparalleled development environment that combines the best of both worlds. Harnessing the power of WSL 2 ensures a smooth and efficient workflow for Linux-related tasks.

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