Run NINE versions of Linux on Windows 10/11 without dual-booting

Instead of running Linux on a separate PC or a Virtual Machine, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) runs up to nine different versions at the same time. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables on a Windows operating system. It allows users to run Linux commands and programs directly on their Windows machine without the need for a virtual machine or dual-booting. This allows developers to use their preferred Linux tools and utilities while still being able to access Windows applications and files. You must be running Windows 10 version 2004 and higher (Build 19041 and higher) or Windows 11 to use the commands below.

There are nine Linux versions to choose from. However, you do not have to choose just one. You can install them all. This post will explain how to do this if you want more than one version. First things first. Go to the Microsoft Store and get “Microsoft Windows Terminal.” You can open multiple Linux, Powershell, and CMD prompt windows using this terminal program. This program will also open a terminal into any version of Linux you install. You can also open an Azure Cloud Shell.

After installing, open the Windows Terminal program. It will default to a Powershell. At the PowerShell prompt run:

wsl --install

This command will enable the features necessary to run WSL and install the default Ubuntu distribution. A separate window will open, asking you to set a username and password. Now that you have the first version of WSL-based Linux installed, you can install all versions. Run the following command to list all versions.

wsl --list --online

To install these versions or just one or two, run this command followed by the version you want to install. If you want a version other than SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v12, change it using the NAME column above.

wsl --install -d sles-12

After installing the needed versions, run the following to check the versions. They will show stopped until you open a terminal.

wsl -l -v

To set the default version run

wsl --setdefault openSUSE-Leap-15-1

The default version is indicated by an asterisk to the left of the distro.

These Linux distros are not emulations. They are the real kernels. I hope you find this post useful. Go here for further information.

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