10/02/2018 Windows How to install the Linux Subsystem on Windows 10 (WSL)

How to install the Linux Subsystem on Windows 10 (WSL)

We have to recognize it: Microsoft lately isn't what it was, and best of all: this change has been for the better. Lately this company is contributing with free software, and they are providing tools, especially for programmers, which make life much easier in our daily tasks. For example, with Visual Studio Code, which was born to deal with Atom, but in many cases we can assure you that it has improved Atom, especially if we are JavaScript developers.

And specifically in the area of programming Windows had a huge lack: more and more tools are coming out to make development easier for programmers, and these tools are generally used from the terminal: git, npm, composer… to name a few. And what's the problem? All of them, out of the box, are requiring a bash terminal (you can emulate this applications to get its compatibility for Windows, but it's an extra job for the developers of the tools). Developers of these tools assumed that all developers have a bash terminal on their computers, and this seriously harmed Microsoft.

Windows 10 has been the solution, and especially since its Fall Creators update and its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) came out of its beta version and everyone could use it with full guarantees of compatibility and stability.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux is the way that Microsoft people have managed to have a Linux distribution of our choice, from a few available, with no graphical user interface by default, to be able to work from a bash terminal. This Linux distro can access to our Windows 10 operating system (the other way around isn't so easy, but it doesn't seem necessary at all), install the necessary applications for our software development and access from this terminal to all the folders that we have permission to access with our Windows user.

I want to install it!

Yeah, easy peachy! You need to have Windows 10 with all the available updates installed, otherwise you probably will not have this service yet. Although if you are sure that you have installed the Windows Fall Creators update then you can continue even if you don't have everything updated.

Now press the Windows key of your keyboard and type PowerShell, click secondary on the app and run it as administrator. In this terminal you must enter this command:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

This way we'll be enabling the Windows service and then we have to run Microsoft Store and look for the Linux distribution that we want to install. At the time of writing this article we can choose between Ubuntu, Suse Linux Enterprise Server and OpenSUSE, although there is a WSL-Distribution-Switcher
project on which you can find more information to install other Linux distros, although logically unofficially.

Although it's not like installing a Linux distro on our computer, we can say that Microsoft is on the right track and they are doing a good job to make Windows 10 an operating system in which developers can work in a more comfortable way.

And as we always say goodbye: never stop programming!

Javi Palacios

Javi Palacios


Computer Padawan and real reader enthusiast. The first day that I code I knew that I wanted to continue programing for the rest of my life. Compiling things on Linux since 2003 and enjoying the stability of macOS since 2006. Free software and technology lover.

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