How to Enable WSL in Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Enabling the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or WSL, on Windows 11 is a straightforward process. All you need is a few minutes and administrative privileges on your computer. Essentially, you’ll be turning on a feature in Windows that lets you run a Linux environment directly within Windows, without the need for a virtual machine or dual-boot setup.

How to Enable WSL in Windows 11

Enabling WSL on Windows 11 allows you to run a Linux environment directly on your Windows machine. This can be useful for development purposes, learning Linux, or running Linux-specific applications. The following steps will guide you through the process.

Step 1: Open PowerShell as Administrator

First, you need to open PowerShell with administrative permissions.

To do this, right-click on the Start menu and select "Windows PowerShell (Admin)" from the context menu. This will ensure you have the necessary permissions to make system changes.

Step 2: Enable the WSL Feature

Next, you’ll need to enable the WSL feature itself.

Type the following command into PowerShell and press Enter: wsl --install. This command will enable the necessary components and install the latest WSL version.

Step 3: Restart Your Computer

Once the installation is complete, you’ll need to restart your computer to apply the changes.

Simply save any open work, close your applications, and restart your computer. This step is crucial for the feature to be fully enabled.

Step 4: Set WSL to Version 2

After your computer restarts, you’ll want to ensure that you’re using WSL 2, which is faster and offers more features.

Open PowerShell as an administrator again and type: wsl --set-default-version 2. This sets WSL 2 as the default version for any new Linux distributions you install.

Step 5: Install a Linux Distribution

Finally, install a Linux distribution from the Microsoft Store.

Open the Microsoft Store, search for your preferred distribution (like Ubuntu), and click "Get" to install it. Once the installation is complete, you can launch it from your Start menu.

After completing these steps, WSL will be enabled on your Windows 11 system. You’ll be able to run Linux commands, scripts, and applications directly within Windows.

Tips for Enabling WSL in Windows 11

  • Ensure your system is updated: Always check for Windows updates before starting the process.
  • Choose the right Linux distribution: Different distributions offer varying features, so pick one that fits your needs.
  • Backup your data: Though the process is safe, it’s always good practice to backup important data.
  • Use WSL 2: WSL 2 offers significant performance improvements over WSL 1.
  • Check system requirements: Make sure your system meets the minimum requirements for enabling WSL.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is WSL?

WSL stands for Windows Subsystem for Linux, a feature that allows you to run a Linux environment within Windows.

Do I need to use PowerShell to enable WSL?

Yes, using PowerShell with administrative privileges is necessary to enable WSL.

Is WSL 1 still supported?

Yes, but WSL 2 offers better performance and more features.

Can I install multiple Linux distributions?

Yes, you can install multiple distributions from the Microsoft Store.

Do I need to restart my computer?

Yes, a restart is required to fully enable the WSL feature after installation.


  1. Open PowerShell as Administrator.
  2. Enable the WSL feature.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Set WSL to Version 2.
  5. Install a Linux distribution.


Enabling WSL on Windows 11 is a simple yet powerful way to bring the best of both worlds—Windows and Linux—together on a single machine. Whether you’re a developer, a Linux enthusiast, or just someone curious about trying out Linux, WSL makes it incredibly easy.

After following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll have a fully functional Linux environment running directly within Windows. This opens up a world of possibilities, from development to scripting to learning Linux commands without leaving the comfort of your Windows setup.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into Linux, consider exploring various distributions and their unique features. There are so many resources available online, from tutorials to forums, which can further enrich your experience.

So, why wait? Enable WSL and start exploring the incredible world of Linux today!