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How to Downgrade from WSL Version 2 to WSL Version 1

How to Downgrade from WSL Version 2 to WSL Version 1

This is a post on how to change a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) distribution from running on Version 2 to Version 1.

WSL has two versions, the latest (2), and the original version (1). You can have many different Linux distributions installed on your machine, and you can easily change the WSL Version for one of them.

This Microsoft documentation page explains the key differences between versions and will help explain why you might want to downgrade back to version 1 for your particular WSL development needs. Personally, being on the latest version suits all my needs.

This post is to help guide in downgrading from WSL Version 2 to WSL Version 1. If you are looking to go the other way and upgrade from WSL Version 1 to WSL Version 2, see my other post here.

How to Downgrade from WSL 2 to WSL 1

To change a WSL Distributions from WSL Version 2 to Version 1, we run the wsl command followed by the –set-version parameter.

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

# check wsl distro versions
wsl -l -v

# change wsl distro using name above to desired version
wsl --set-version Debian 1
WSL Set Version

The second command in this demo has downgraded the Debian distribution to Version 1.

To upgrade back to version 2, it’s as simple as changing the number from a 1 to a 2 in the command. I’ve created a post on it if it helps to switch pages.