How to Install Linux Distros on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in Windows 11

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The article details how to install a Linux operating system on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in Windows 11. WSL allows developers to run a Linux environment directly on Windows. Once WSL is installed, a Linux distro must also be installed. Distros like Ubuntu, Debian, Kali-Linux, SLES 12 & 15, Arch Linux, and Oracle_Linux are…

This article explains how one can install a Linux operating system on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in Windows 11.

Windows Subsystem for Linux lets developers run a GNU/Linux environment directly in Windows without setting up a virtual machine or dual-boot, including most command-line tools, utilities, and applications.

Installing WSL is the first step for using a Linux system on a Windows machine. Once WSL is installed, you must also install a Linux distro; the steps below show you how.

You can install and run Ubuntu, Debian, Kali-Linux, SLES 12 & 15, Arch Linux, and Oracle_Linux. Other distros may be added in the future.

Install Linux distributions on Windows Subsystem for Linux from the Microsoft Store.

As described above, installing WSL on Windows is only the beginning. You must also install a Linux distro to run Linux. You can now run Ubuntu, Debian, Kali-Linux, SLES 12 & 15, Arch Linux, and Oracle_Linux.

Here’s how to do that.

If you haven’t installed Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 11, read the post below to learn how.

How to install Windows Subsystem or Linux (WSL) on Windows 11

After installing WSL, head to the Microsoft Store to install any or all supported distros.

Ubuntu:

https://apps.microsoft.com/store/detail/ubuntu-on-windows/9NBLGGH4MSV6

Debian:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/debian-gnu-linux/9msvkqc78pk6

Kali Linux:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/kali-linux/9pkr34tncv07

Alpine Linux:

https://apps.microsoft.com/store/detail/alpine-wsl/9P804CRF0395

OpenSUSE

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/opensuse-leap-42/9njvjts82tjx

Ubuntu Linux install WSL on Windows
Ubuntu Linux install WSL on Windows

Once you download the app, it will install the distro you selected and prompt you to enter a username and password. You now have a new Linux distribution created in the WSL environment.

An icon will also be created on the Start menu for your installed Linux distro.

Install Linux distros for WSL via Windows Terminal

Alternatively, one can install Linux distros using the command line using the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell app.

On the command line, run the commands below to list all available Linux distributions installed within the WSL environment.

wsl --list --online

The commands above should output similar lines as the one below:

NAME               FRIENDLY NAME
Ubuntu             Ubuntu
Debian             Debian GNU/Linux
kali-linux         Kali Linux Rolling
SLES-12            SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12
SLES-15            SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v15
Ubuntu-18.04       Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
Ubuntu-20.04       Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Ubuntu-22.04       Ubuntu 22.04 LTS
OracleLinux_8_5    Oracle Linux 8.5
OracleLinux_7_9    Oracle Linux 7.9

Now that you have the names of the available distros, you can run the commands below to install a particular distro.

wsl --install -d <name of Linux distro>

Replace <name of Linux distro> with the friendly name on the list above.

Example:

wsl --install -d Ubuntu

Once installed, you will be prompted to type in your username and password.

That should do it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to install Linux distros in the WSL environment in Windows 11. Please use the comment form below if you find any errors above or have something to add.

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