Linux on Windows? Totally! How to Install WSL 1 and WSL 2

Guillermo Musumeci
5 min readApr 20, 2020

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Lately, I have been working with lots of Linux deployments using Terraform and this requires SSH virtual machines to test scripts. Usually, I use Putty on my Windows machines, which is just OK.

However, there are better options and personally, the best one around for me is using WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux), developed between Microsoft and Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu).

WSL version 1 was introduced on the Windows Fall Creators Update Version 1709 and WSL version 2 was released on the Windows Feature May 2020 Update Version 2004.

Note: this story was updated in May 2020 to add the installation of WSL in Windows 10 LTSC versions and Windows versions without the Microsoft Store .

1. Requirements for WSL

Currently, WSL 1 and WSL 2 are only supported on both Windows 10 64-bit and Windows Server 2019.

We need to run Windows Build 16215 or later to install WSL 1.

WSL 2 is only available in Windows Builds 18917 or higher.

Follow these steps to check your build:

Open PowerShell (as administrator) and type:

systeminfo | Select-String "^OS Name","^OS Version"

From the Windows GUI, go to Settings, System, About.

Note: If we are running Windows 10, we need to verify the OS version is 64-bit.

2. How to install WSL 1 from the Command Line?

Open PowerShell (as administrator) and type:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Then, we need to restart our computer when it is asked.

3. Installing WSL 2

WSL 2 is only available in Windows builds 18917 or higher.

Note Abril 2020: Currently, we need to join the Windows Insider Program and enable the Slow or Fast Ring access on Windows Insider Build settings to get…

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Guillermo Musumeci

Certified AWS, Azure & GCP Architect | HashiCorp Ambassador | Terraform SME | KopiCloud Founder | ex-AWS | Entrepreneur | Book Author | Husband & Dad of ✌