Microsoft first offered some degree of Linux compatibility by way of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) introduced with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in 2016. That initial version of the utility wasn’t perfect, especially since it used a Linux-compatible kernel developed by Microsoft rather than the genuine article. WSL 2 changed that in June 2019 by incorporating the full Linux kernel right into Windows 10 via the operating system’s built-in Hyper-V hypervisor.
Installing WSL used to be a complicated process that involved manually enabling various services, downloading the utility, and installing it without much assistance from Windows. That changed with later releases of Windows 10, however, and Windows 11 continues to make it easy to start using a variety of Linux distributions in a lightweight virtual machine environment. Here’s how to start using the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10 and Windows 11.
1. Launch either PowerShell or Command Prompt as the system’s administrator. This is most easily accomplished by searching for “PowerShell” or “Command Prompt” from the Start menu. Whichever option you choose, don’t just launch the command line by hitting “Enter,” because Windows isn’t going to let you install WSL as a regular user. Instead you should click “Run as administrator” from the search results.