List Available WSL Linux Distros in Windows 10

Starting with Windows 10 build 18342 (19H1) and Windows 10 build 18836 (20H1), Microsoft added some new commands to the built-in wsl.exe tool. By using the new arguments, you can quickly list available distros in WSL Linux.


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.

Linux Distros Microsoft Store Windows 10

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.

When you start a WSL distro for the first time, it opens a console window with a progress bar. After a moment of waiting, you will be prompted to type a new user account name, and its password. This account will be your default WSL user account that will be used to sign-in automatically every time you run the current distro. Also, it will be included in the 'sudo' group in order to allow it to run commands elevated (as root).

To List Available WSL Linux Distros in Windows 10,

  1. Open a new command prompt.
  2. Run the command wsl.exe --list --all or wsl.exe -l --all.Windows 10 WSL List Distros
  3. Execute the command wsl.exe --list --running to see only running instances of WSL. Alternatively, you can run the command wsl.exe -l --running.List Of Running WSL Distros

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.

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.

One thought on “List Available WSL Linux Distros in Windows 10”

  1. There is an installer for CentOS on Github. It’s not in the Windows App Store, nor is it an official distro (per Microsoft or The CentOS Project) but it gets you CentOS on WSL pretty quickly and easily. I haven’t tested it extensively, but can confirm the installer works just fine on 1903.

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