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How to Check WSL Versions

How to Check WSL Versions

To check your installed Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) versions, run wsl -l -v. This will show all installed WSL Linux distro names & versions.

WSL allows users to develop and run applications within a GNU/Linux environment on a Windows computer. Previous to this feature release we needed Virtual Machines (VMs), and dual boot setups were much more common if you wanted local test environments.

There are 2 versions of WSL, the old (1), and the new (2). We should ideally be using the latest version like all other software in existence, but there are use cases where we might prefer to use WSL Version 1.

As always, we should look for the most relevant MS Docs when researching a Microsoft Product or Application. The image below shows the current feature differences between WSL 1 and WSL 2.

wsl1 vs wsl2

Have a look at Microsoft Documentation – Comparing WSL 1 and WSL 2 for more information on WSL version differences. One of the key differences in 2022 is that WSL 2 allows the use of Docker in WSL.

How to Check WSL Versions

To check the versions of your installed WSL distros, open a PowerShell Terminal and run wsl -l -v

# wsl check version
wsl -l -v

The command above lists all installed Windows Subsystem Linux distributions on your local machine, including WSL versions (WSL1 or WSL2) and their state (Running or Stopped).

wsl check version

I’m using Windows Terminal in this demo, which is great for managing multiple WSL distributions. We are able to open multiple Linux WSL distros and manage them using tabs as displayed in the screenshot above.

That concludes this post on how to check a WSL version. Feel free to check out some of my other WSL posts that relate to version checks and the Windows Subsystem:
# How to Upgrade WSL from Version 1 to Version 2
# How to Downgrade from WSL Version 2 to WSL Version 1
# How to Change Default Linux Distro in WSL


  1. […] The first command below, wsl -l -v, is used to check the version of WSL as described in my other post – How to Check WSL Version […]

  2. […] need to run a basic wsl command to shut down the distro. First, I’m listing my installed WSL distributions followed by the ‘wsl –shutdown‘ […]

  3. […] For more useful tips on administering WSL, have a look at some of my other WSL blog posts:# How to Reboot WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux)# How to Upgrade WSL from Version 1 to Version 2# How to Change Default Linux Distro in WSL# How to Check WSL Versions […]