WSL –install will now install Linux distros, allows picking any of available online

Windows 10 Linux Icon

Microsoft has done a useful change to the Windows Sybsystem for Linux (WSL). Starting in Windows 10 build 20246, WSL will now install a Linux distro in addition to the feature itself, so it will get ready INSTANTLY, with no extra actions required from your side.

Microsoft has introduced the --install option for the wsl.exe tool as a new default installation method for the WSL2 platform back in May 19, 2020.

It has been added to Insider Preview builds this fall, so Insiders already enjoy it.

It worth noting that WSL 2, the next-get implementation of the Linux layer for Windows 10, was exclusively available to Windows version 2004. In order to make it available for more Windows 10 users, Microsoft has made it available for two previous releases of the OS.

As it was announced in September, the --install argument now includes the ability to install WSL distros, meaning you will be able to fully set up WSL on your machine, along with your chosen distro, with just one command.

Just by running one command wsl --install you will get the WSL feature enabled in Windows 10, and the Ubuntu distro installed by default. Microsoft offers Ubuntu as the default WSL distro since very first versions of the platform. Now it arrives automatically unless you specify a different Linux image manually.

Install a distribution of your choice

You can also install any distribution of your choice by running wsl --install -d <Distro>.  For example, you can run the command wsl --install -d Debian to have Debian installed instead of Ubuntu.

You can see the list of distros available online by running wsl --list --online.

Use a value from the NAME column in the above command to get it installed.

Personally, I would like to be able to install multiple Linux distributions during the initial installation. For example, you could install Ubuntu, Debian and Kali in a row. Maybe one day we will have such an ability.

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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 “WSL –install will now install Linux distros, allows picking any of available online”

  1. Think this is the final nail in the coffin in the “year of the desktop” for most Linux distros. Not that there was every any evidence of it happening any time soon, but now that you can install so many distros within Windows and have both the benefits of Linux along with the software/hardware support of Windows, the best of both worlds nicely integrated into one is quite compelling.

    Of course there’s always going to be people who want a full Linux system for various reasons and those distros will always exist and have their uses. But I’m thrilled that the meme will finally die. Even in Linux forums I don’t think anyone has any hope anymore of Windows dominance disappearance any time soon.

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