Using Linux With WSL on Windows

Using WSL

Remove a Distro via WSL

Too many distros on your Windows system? Learn about removing them.

Once you have WSL setup, installing various Linux distribution is as simple as installing any application from the Microsoft Store.

This flexibility allows you to experiment with various available distros. And when you have several distros installed via WSL, it only makes sense to get rid of the ones you don't want to use.

Removing a Linux distro installed via WSL involves these two steps:

  • Use the wsl command to unregister a distro from the terminal.
  • Uninstall the WSL distribution app from your system.
Before removing a critical WSL Linux distribution, please ensure that you have a backup of that one, to avoid data loss.

Step 1: Unregister the WSL distribution using the terminal

Here, we will take a look at unregistering a WSL distribution from the terminal and also from within another WSL distribution.

Unregister the distribution using Windows terminal

Before uninstalling a WSL distribution, we need to unregister it. This is to ensure a proper removal of the distribution and its files.

Search and open PowerShell from the Start menu.

Search for and open PowerShell from Windows Start Menu.
Open PowerShell

On PowerShell, use the command below to list all the installed distributions. You will get the name of the distribution you want to remove from this list. Note it.

wsl -l -v

Now, to unregister a distribution, use the command:

wsl --unregister <distro_name>

For me, I will run:

wsl --unregister Ubuntu
Unregister a WSL distribution
Unregister a WSL distribution

This will remove the associated file system and other leftovers.

Unregister a Linux distribution from within another distribution

It is possible to unregister a WSL distribution while you are using another WSL distribution, with the help of the wsl.exe command. What you have to do is to replace wsl in the above-mentioned commands with wsl.exe That is:

List installed distributions using:

wsl.exe -l -v
List installed distributions from within another WSL distribution
List installed distributions from within another wsl distribution

Now, remove the selected distro using:

wsl.exe --unregister <distro_name>
Unregister a distribution from within another distribution
Unregister a distribution from within another distribution

Step 2: Uninstall the WSL Distribution from the system

Once you have unregistered the WSL distribution, it is time to remove it from your system.

Since the WSL distributions are installed as apps from Microsoft store, you can uninstall the app to get rid of that distribution. First, press the Windows key to open the start menu and search for the distribution that you want to uninstall.

Search for Ubuntu in Windows start menu
Search for Ubuntu

Now, right-click on it and select Uninstall.

Right-click on the WSL distribution name in the start menu and select uninstall
Select Uninstall

If asked for a confirmation, confirm the uninstall and done.

Alternatively, on the start menu, search and open Installed Apps.

Search for installed apps in Windows start menu
Search for Installed Apps

Inside this, scroll down to find the distribution and click on uninstall to remove it from the system.

On the installed apps list click on the three dots button adjacent to the distribution name and select uninstall
Select Uninstall to Remove the App

That's all about removing WSL Linux distributions from Windows.