Find Running WSL Linux Distros in Windows 10

Wlinux Icon Wsl

Even if you leave your WSL Linux session, it remains active. This allows you to quickly return where you left off (requires a terminal multiplexer like screen or tmux), or run a daemon/server. Here's how to find WSL Linux distros you have running in the background.

The ability to run Linux natively in Windows 10 is provided by the WSL feature. WSL stands for Windows Subsystem for Linux, which initially, was limited to Ubuntu only. Modern versions of WSL allow installing and running multiple Linux distros from Microsoft Store.

After enabling WSL, you can install various Linux versions from the Store. You can use the following links:

  1. Ubuntu
  2. openSUSE Leap
  3. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
  4. Kali Linux for WSL
  5. Debian GNU/Linux

and more.

Find Running WSL Linux Distros

Starting with Windows 10 build 17046, Windows Subsytem for Linux (WSL) has got support for long-running background tasks, similar to how the Windows subsystem has Services. This is a really impressive change for users of WSL who work with servers like Apache or apps like screen or tmux. Now they can run in the background like regular Linux daemons. This, and a number of others, are reasons to have an active WSL instance in Windows 10.

Even when you issue the exit command, this doesn't turn off your WSL distro. Starting in Windows 10 build 18836 (Skip Ahead) and build 18342 (Fast Ring) you can quickly find running distros using new features of the OS. Here is how it can be done.

To Find Running WSL Linux Distros in Windows 10,

  1. Open File Explorer
  2. Click on the Linux item in the Navigation Pane.
  3. Click on Distros shortcut in the Linux folder to see all currently running WSL distros.

Alternatively, you can use a console tool, wsl.exe, to see which WSL Linux distros are currently running on your computer.

Find Running WSL Linux Distros with wsl.exe

  1. Open a new command prompt
  2. Execute the command wsl.exe --list --running to see currently active instances of WSL. Alternatively, you can run the command wsl.exe -l --running.
  3. To list all WSL distros, run the command wsl.exe --list --all or wsl.exe -l --all.

That's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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