Check WSL Version in Windows 11, 10, and 7

check wsl version

WSL means Windows Subsystem for Linux. In this post, we show you how to check WSL version quickly. WSL is a great windows initiative program that allows users to use a Linux file system and run Linux command-line and Graphical User Interface (GUI) programs to run directly on Windows without using any third-party virtualization software. This is an excellent tool for those who want to learn about the Linux working environment but can not afford to change their primary operating system to learn Linux. There are other administrative use cases of WSL as well.

What is WSL?

WSL is an abbreviation for Windows Subsystem for Linux. It allows Linux binary(bin) executable files to run natively on Windows environments. For frequent Linux users, it saves the hassle to either virtualize a Linux environment or dual boot their system with both Linux and Windows. Users are advised to check WSL version as Microsoft consistently adds new features to make this platform as Linux-like as possible. To know more about the windows subsystem for Linux, like its installation process, working mechanism, check WSL versions and latest information, visit its official documentation site from Microsoft.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/about

How to check WSL version

Knowing the correct version of your WSL installation can be pretty important as a different version of WSL provides a different set of features and compatibility. Here we provide you with basic methods to help you check WSL version on your system. The followings are the ways to check WSL version.

Checking through Command-line

You could quickly check the version of your current Windows Subsystem installation for Linux through the command line. Follow the given instruction to check WSL version in the command prompt.

  • Press Windows + R.
  • Type cmd in the search inbox and hit Enter.
  • In the terminal type ‘wsl –list –verbose‘ command to check you WSL version.
  • Under the version column of the output, check your WSL version number.

Checking through the WSL shell

You could also check your WSL version while inside the WSL environment. You only have to type a few commands in your terminal and check your kernel version. If it is above a particular version, it is WSL2, or if it is not, it is WSL1. Follow the given instruction to check your kernel and WSL version in the WSL environment itself.

  • Open your terminal emulator.
  • Run the uname -r command.
  • Check your kernel version in the ouput of the command.

If your kernel version is more significant than 4.19, you are running WSL2. Otherwise, it is WSL1.

Check WSL version through windows build number

Your Windows build number can also help you identify your WSL version as WSL2 is only supported above a certain Windows build version. Follow the given instructions to check your windows installation build number and then use it to identify your Windows Subsystem for the Linux version.

  • Press Windows + R.
  • Type cmd in the search inbox and hit Enter.
  • Command prompt would open.
  • In the cmd shell type ‘ver‘.
  • This would output your windows build version.
running ver command to check build number to check wsl version
Windows build number

You could also check your build number using the System Information utility to check your build number. Follow the given steps to open system info and then compare the build number to check WSL version.

  • Open Start menu.
  • Type system information in the search box and Hit Enter.
  • System Information window would open.
  • In the system summary tab, in the item column check your version.
  • In the vlaue column of the version row, you would find your build number.
Opening System Information
Opening System Information
Windows build number in system info.
Windows build number in system info.

If your build number is more significant than 18917, your system supports WSL2, but if it is less than 18917, your system will support only WSL1. If your system supports WSL2, but it has only WSL1 installed in it, you could follow the procedure mentioned on Microsoft’s official WSL documentation website to update WSL1 to WSL2.

WSL1 vs WSL2

If you did check WSL version and found your WSL versions to be WSL1, you should know that you are not running the latest version of the WSL. As of now, there are only two versions of the WSL released by Microsoft, WSL1 and WSL2. While both versions serve the same purpose: to provide an executable environment for Linux-specific software to run on Windows natively, the underlying and approach and architecture that both versions employ are different. An overview of the difference between WSL1 and WSL2 is provided below.

WSL1 does not have a full Linux kernel underneath it, and it runs on a compatibility layer between the Linux environment and the Windows kernel. Hence, one might argue that it is not entirely Linux. It is a kind of compatible emulation of Linux on top of windows. However, most Linux binary executables run without any problem in the WSL1 environment. It doesn’t provide full system call support for the Linux kernel.

WSL2, on the other hand, has a full-blown Linux kernel underneath it. It provides full Linux kernel features without any middle layer between windows and Linux kernel. All of the Linux system calls are entirely supported in WSL2. Some of the basic operations are like I/O are much faster in WSL2 than in WSL1.

FAQs on How to Check WSL

Which is the most used WSL distro?

Ubuntu is by far the most widely used WSL distro.

Does WSL work on Windows 7?

No, it is only available for Windows 10 or above.

Which is the latest version of the Linux kernel?

The latest stable release of the Linux kernel is 5.15.13.

Conlusion

WSL is a great compatibility tool that allows users to run native Linux programs on Windows without any extra hassle of virtualization or dual booting. Currently, there are only two versions of WSL version 1 and version 2. WSL2 is not available on all Windows 10 as it requires additional functionality to run a full Linux kernel. This article mentioned two ways to check WSL version, one from outside the WSL and another from the WSL environment itself.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top