Ever needed to run that handy Linux app but found yourself on a Windows machine? Fear not fellow geek, for there is a very quick and easy way to run Linux applications on Windows 10.

WARNING to VirtualBox users

Currently you cannot run WSL and VirtualBox together. Sadly VBox simply won’t boot your VM. You can read more about it on Github: https://github.com/MicrosoftDocs/WSL/issues/798

How to install the Linux Sub-system in Windows 10

For example, I need to keep two folders in sync and love using rsync, which is a Linux app not easily available on Windows. Here are the steps I took to get it going:

1. Open PowerShell and become admin

Just right click the PowerShell shortcut in the Start Menu and select ‘Run as administrator’

2. Install the Linux sub-system ‘feature’ in Windows (WSL)

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart

3. Install Ubuntu (or another supported distro)

wsl --install --distribution Ubuntu

4. Restart your computer

This is important! If you don’t reboot it won’t load 😉

5. Open Ubuntu from the Start Menu

Mine automatically started on reboot.

6. Set your Linux user to match the Windows one

7. Update the applications cache and install your favourite tools

e.g. sudo apt get update && sudo apt dist-upgrade -y && sudo apt install rsync mc curl git

Bonus Round

Note that the physical drives are already mounted for you but network shares are not. If you need to mount, say Samba shares, just run:

sudo apt install cifs-utils -y


What’s your favourite tool you miss not having on Windows?

Let me know if you found this post helpful or not 🙂