Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

Last Modified:July 4, 2020

The Windows Subsystem for Linux is Microsoft's implementation of Linux for Windows. It provides services and environments for running native user-mode Linux shells and tools on Windows.

Starting with Windows 10 (version 2004, build 19041 or greater), Microsoft has implement what they are referring to as WSL2 or WSL 2. This implementation of WSL makes use of a full linux kernel.

Additional differences between WSL1 and WSL2 can be seen at at this Microsoft site.

Installation Guide

Check out the Installation Guide for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for detailed instructions to install this option.


Before you install a version of Linux on your PC using the WSL method, you must first prepare your system to run Linux under windows. This can be found in our Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux tutorial. You only need to prepare your Windows PC one time to run Linux.

The Microsoft implementation for Linux is a clean package. It allows you to install popular distributions of Linux from the Microsoft Store. You don't need to decide if you will be running a 32bit or 64bit OS. You don't need to download additional ISO's or distributions ahead of time. It can allow for different distributions to be installed simultanously. It can be launched multiple ways:

  1. via the start menu
  2. via the command prompt
  3. via the search menu

There are a few drawbacks with this solution however

One drawback is that you are limited to the selection of distributions available in the Microsoft Store. Currently, there are only 5 distributions available in the Microsoft store. There are hundreds of different distributions available for Linux.

Another limitation to the WSL solution is that not all versions of Microsoft Windows are capable of running this solution. Windows 10 S does not support it. Windows 10 32bit does not support it either.