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As someone who is firmly from the Windows world, my personal experience with Linux has mainly revolved around spinning up dedicated virtual machines for appliances such as pfSense, Plex, PiHole etc (a lot of ‘P’s’ here).

I have found that this certainly works well in an always-on situation, but if you wanted to run Linux on a Windows device used for your day-to-day work, you would need to use a hypervisor (either the built-in Hyper-V feature or something like Oracle VirtualBox) and then ensure you have enough of your precious RAM and hard disk space available for a virtual machine that you might only switch on occasionally.

The alternative to using a virtual machine would be to dual-boot your device yet this introduces its own challenges (in addition to the above) with the main one that you can only use one operating system at a time and the second being potential driver issues for the underlying hardware the Linux distro is running on.

Thankfully, Microsoft seem to recognise the importance of Linux and there is now an alternative. We can now enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) feature which makes it super easy to get access to Linux on your Windows daily-driver!


Open up an administrator command prompt and run the below command which installs the necessary features and brings down a copy of Ubuntu automatically

wsl --install

Note that if you want to use a different Linux distribution you can use the command: wsl --install -d <Distribution Name> replacing <Distribution Name> with the distro of your choice. You can get a list of available distributions by using the command: wsl --list --online

wsl --install

When the command runs you will see progress as below

VM platform installing and downloading Ubuntu

When done you will be prompted to reboot and after you log back in to Windows you will see installation status for your chosen distro

Resuming install after a reboot

Once installed you will be prompted to setup a user and password (note the password does not show when typing)

Setting the username and password

And that’s it! You now have a fully functional Linux instance without the bloat and hassle of a VM or dual-boot!

Linux terminal ready for use
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