Setup and Configure WSL(Windows Subsystem for Linux) & Run Kali Linux on WSL2

The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a feature of the Windows operating system that enables you to run a Linux file system, along with Linux command-line tools and GUI apps, directly on Windows, alongside your traditional Windows desktop and apps.

Install and Configure Kali Linux on WSL service

Step 1: Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux:

  • Press Windows + S and then Type "Turn Windows Features on or off".
  • Turn on Windows Subsystem for Linux and also enable Virtualisation.

Click Ok and then restart the PC.

Step 2: Check requirements for running WSL 2

You must be running Windows 10 version 2004 and higher (Build 19041 and higher) or Windows 11.


To check your Windows version and build number, select Windows logo key + R, type winver, select OK. You can update to the latest Windows version by selecting Start > Settings > **Windows Update **> Check for updates.

If you're running an older build, or just prefer not to use the install command and would like step-by-step directions, see WSL manual installation steps for older versions.

Step 3: Status of Windows Subsystem for Linux:

Run Power Shell as an administrator and check whether WSL is installed or not.
Microsoft Windows[Version 10.0.19044.1288]
(c) Microsoft Corporation. All right reserved.

C:\Users\mrdeveloper>wsl --help                                                                     
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Usage: wsl.exe [Argument] [Options...] [CommandLine] 
Arguments for running Linux binaries: 
   If no command line is provided, wsl.exe launches the default shell.

   --exec, -e <CommandLine>
     Execute the specified command without using the default Linux shell.
     Pass the remaining command line as is.

    --distribution, -d <Distro>     
           Run the specified distribution. 
    --user, -u <UserName>
           Run as the specified user.

Arguments for managing Windows Subsystem for Linux:     
       Display usage information.                                                                                                                                                                          
    --install [Options]  
       Install additional Windows Subsystem for Linux distribution.         For a list of valid distributions, use 'wsl --list --online'.

           --distribution, -d [Argument]      
              Downloads and installs a distribution by name. 
              A valid distribution name (not case sensitive).                                                                                                                                                     
                    wsl --install -d Ubuntu       
                    wsl --install --distribution Debian  

      --set-default-version <Version>
          Changes the default install version for new distributions. 
          Immediately terminates all running distributions and the WSL lightweight utility virtual machine.
          Show the status of Windows Subsystem for Linux.
      --update [Options] 
          If no options are specified, the WSL 2 kernel will be updated to the latest version.
       Options:          --rollback       Revert to the previous version of the WSL 2 kernel.

 Arguments for managing distributions in Windows Subsystem for Linux:
 --export <Distro> <FileName>  
     Exports the distribution to a tar file.  The filename can be - for standard output.  
 --import <Distro> <InstallLocation> <FileName> [Options] 
     Imports the specified tar file as a new distribution.    The filename can be - for standard input.
     --version <Version>
          Specifies the version to use for the new distribution.
     --list, -l [Options]
          Lists distributions.

                List all distributions, including distributions that are currently being installed or uninstalled.
                List only distributions that are currently running.
             --quiet, -q
                Only show distribution names.
             --verbose, -v
               Show detailed information about all distributions.
             --online, -o
               Displays a list of available distributions for install with 'wsl --install'.
 --set-default, -s <Distro>
       Sets the distribution as the default.
 --set-version <Distro> <Version> 
       Changes the version of the specified distribution. 
--terminate, -t <Distro>
       Terminates the specified distribution.
--unregister <Distro>
       Unregisters the distribution and deletes the root filesystem.     


Step 4: Download the Linux Kernel Update Package

  Download the latest package: WSL2 Linux kernel update package for x64 machines


Step 5: Set WSL 2 as your default version

Open PowerShell and run this command to set WSL 2 as the default version when installing a new Linux distribution:

C:\users\mrdeveloper> wsl --set-default-version 2

Step 6: Download and Install the Linux distribution

Download and install Linux Distribution using the below methods:

Method 1: From Microsoft store by searching distribution name:

Method 2: Check the available distribution by using this command:


Microsoft Windows[Version 10.0.19044.1288]
(c) Microsoft Corporation. All right reserved.

C:\Users\mrdeveloper> wsl --list --online
The following is a list of valid distributions that can be installed.
Install using 'wsl --install -d <Distro>'.
        NAME            FRIENDLY NAME
        Ubuntu          Ubuntu                             
        Debian          Debian GNU/Linux                               
        kali-linux      Kali Linux Rolling                              
        openSUSE-42     openSUSE Leap 42                     
        SLES-12         SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12                  
        Ubuntu-16.04    Ubuntu 16.04 LTS                        
        Ubuntu-18.04    Ubuntu 18.04 LTS                                 
        Ubuntu-20.04    Ubuntu 20.04 LTS            


For Example: If you want to install Kali-Linux:
C:\users\mrdeveloper> wsl --install -d kali-linux

Step 7: Launch Kali Linux

Now we are ready to launch Kali Linux:

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