How to Install WSL on Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 11 is pretty straightforward. Essentially, you’ll enable the WSL feature, install a Linux distribution, and then configure your system. After reading this, you should be all set to run Linux commands on your Windows 11 machine.

How to Install WSL on Windows 11

In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps to install WSL on your Windows 11 computer. By the end, you’ll be able to run Linux directly from your Windows environment.

Step 1: Open PowerShell as an Administrator

Run PowerShell with elevated privileges to enable WSL.

Right-click the Start button, choose "Windows Terminal (Admin)" or "PowerShell (Admin)," and confirm the User Account Control (UAC) prompt. This step ensures you have the necessary permissions to make system changes.

Step 2: Enable WSL

In PowerShell, type wsl --install and hit Enter.

This command will enable the WSL feature, download the required components, and install the default Linux distribution. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get WSL up and running on Windows 11.

Step 3: Restart Your Computer

Reboot your machine to apply the changes.

Restarting your computer will finalize the WSL installation and ensure all necessary updates are applied. This will prepare your system to run the Linux kernel.

Step 4: Choose a Linux Distribution

After restarting, open the Microsoft Store and search for your preferred Linux distribution.

Click on the distribution you want, like Ubuntu or Debian, and hit "Install." The store will handle the download and setup.

Step 5: Launch the Linux Distribution

After installation, select "Launch" from the Microsoft Store or start it from the Start menu.

The first time you launch it, you’ll be prompted to create a user account and password for the Linux environment. This setup process will only happen once.

Step 6: Update and Upgrade

Finally, update and upgrade your Linux distribution by running sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade in the terminal.

This command ensures your Linux environment is up to date with the latest packages and security patches. Regular updates keep your system secure and efficient.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a fully functioning Linux environment on your Windows 11 machine. You can now run Linux commands, install software, and much more.

Tips for Installing WSL on Windows 11

  • Check for updates: Ensure your Windows 11 is up to date before starting the WSL installation.
  • Use WSL 2: WSL 2 offers better performance and full system call compatibility.
  • Explore distributions: Don’t hesitate to try different Linux distributions to find the one that suits your needs.
  • Stay secure: Regularly update both your Windows and Linux environments.
  • Backup your data: Before making significant changes, always back up your data in case something goes wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I uninstall WSL?

Open PowerShell as an administrator and run wsl --uninstall. Follow the prompts to remove WSL and all associated distributions.

Can I run graphical Linux applications on WSL?

Yes, WSL 2 supports GUI applications. You’ll need an X server like X410 or VcXsrv, and you can run graphical applications as you would on a native Linux system.

Is WSL 1 still available?

Yes, you can still use WSL 1 if you prefer. Use wsl --set-default-version 1 to switch.

Can I access Windows files from WSL?

Absolutely. Your Windows file system is accessible from WSL at /mnt/c/.

How do I switch between WSL versions?

Use the command wsl --set-version, replacing with your Linux distribution name and with 1 or 2.


  1. Open PowerShell as an Administrator.
  2. Enable WSL using wsl --install.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Choose a Linux distribution from the Microsoft Store.
  5. Launch the Linux distribution.
  6. Update and upgrade the Linux distribution.


Installing WSL on Windows 11 is a breeze, making it easy to bridge the gap between Windows and Linux. This step-by-step guide ensures you can set up WSL quickly, enabling you to enjoy the best of both worlds. By following the instructions and tips provided, you’ll be well on your way to running Linux commands and applications seamlessly on your Windows 11 machine.

WSL is a powerful tool for developers, IT professionals, and anyone interested in Linux. It allows you to use Linux utilities without leaving the comfort of the Windows environment. Whether you’re compiling code, managing servers, or just exploring Linux, WSL makes it all accessible.

For further reading, consider diving into more advanced WSL features or exploring different Linux distributions to see which one fits your workflow best. Happy coding!