Microsoft introduces Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in latest Windows 10 20H1 build

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 13, 2019
Updated • Jun 24, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft plans to integrate the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in the first major Windows 10 feature update after Windows 10 1903, the Windows 10 20H1 update.

The company released a new build to the Fast Ring Windows Insider channel that includes the new version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux. With the change come important improvements and changes that users and administrators need to be aware of.

First, the basics: The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 is included in the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18917 released on June 12, 2019. It will also be included in future Insider Builds provided that Microsoft does not find critical bugs that need addressing.

WSL 2 needs to be installed before it becomes available:

  1. Make sure the Windows 10 build is at least 18917 (use winver to find out about that by launching it from Start).
  2. Open an administrative PowerShell prompt, e.g. by using the Windows-X menu.
  3. Run Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform
  4. A restart is required.
  5. Open a PowerShell prompt again.
  6. Run wsl -l to display the available distros.
  7. To verify the versions of each distro, run wsl --list --verbose or wsl -l -v
  8. Run the command wsl --set-version <Distro> 2 to set a distro. Replace <Distro> with the name of the distro revealed by the command under 6).
  9. To make WSL 2 the default architecture, run wsl --set-default-version 2.

The new subsystem provides the same user experience as the current version in release versions of Windows 10.

windows subsystem for linux 2

Microsoft notes that the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 comes with a "real Linux kernel" and that it changes how Linux binaries "interact with Windows" and the computer hardware.

One of the core difference between version 1 and 2 of the Windows Subsystem for Linux is that users are now encouraged to place files inside the Linux root file system. Doing so improves performance significantly according to Microsoft as they benefit from faster file system access of WSL 2.

Windows Apps may also access the Linux root file system with the release of this version. While WSL 1 still requires that users place files on the c: drive of the Windows installation, WSL 2 does away with that limitation.

WSL 2 runs in a virtual machine and that requires that the virtual machine's IP address is required for certain tasks. To access Windows network applications from Linux, one would need to know the Windows host IP and vice versa.

Other user experience changes between WSL 1 and 2 are listed on Microsoft's Docs website.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 comes with a range of new commands such as switching between version 1 and 2 of the subssystem or shutting down all running distributions at once. You find a list of commands on the Microsoft Dev Blog.

Now You: Do you use the Windows Subsystem for Linux?

Microsoft introduces Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in latest Windows 10 20H1 build
Article Name
Microsoft introduces Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in latest Windows 10 20H1 build
Microsoft plans to integrate the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 in the first major Windows 10 feature update after Windows 10 1903, the Windows 10 20H1 update.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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