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Microsoft first offered some degree of Linux compatibility through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) introduced with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in 2016. This initial version of the utility was not perfect, however. especially since it was using a developed Linux compatible kernel. by Microsoft rather than the genuine article. WSL 2 changed that in June 2019 by incorporating the full Linux kernel directly into Windows 10 through the operating system’s built-in Hyper-V hypervisor.

Installing WSL was a complicated process that involved manually activating various services, downloading the utility, and installing it without much help from Windows. However, that has changed with later versions of Windows 10, and Windows 11 continues to make it easier to use various Linux distributions in a lightweight VM environment. Here’s how to get started using Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to install Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 11

1. Launch PowerShell or Command Prompt as system administrator. This is most easily accomplished by searching for “PowerShell” or “Command Prompt” on the Start menu. Whichever option you choose, do not just launch the command line by pressing “Enter”, as Windows will not allow you to install WSL as a normal user. Instead, you should click on “Run as administrator” in the search results.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

2. Enter the following command:

wsl --install

Assuming you’ve launched PowerShell (as shown in our example) or the Command Prompt as an administrator, this command should automatically enable the services WSL relies on, download the utility, and install whatever it does. needs to function without other input. It also downloads and installs Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution that can be found in everything from single board computers to corporate servers, by default.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Restart your computer. A notification should appear telling you that WSL has been installed and will be available after restarting your PC. You don’t need to restart your system immediately, but if you don’t, WSL will remind you that it needs to be restarted the next time you try to do anything with the utility. So restart as soon as possible.