Updated December 27, 2022.
So you want to install Ubuntu on Windows 10 or Windows 11? Don’t worry, you’re at the right place. You might be surprised to know, but there’s no single, universal way to install and run Ubuntu on Windows.
In this post, we lay out 3 ways to install and run Unbuntu on Windows 10 or Windows 11, including:
- WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).
- Using a USB stick.
- Using a VM (Virtual Machine).
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Install Ubuntu on Windows with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
The Windows Subsystem for Linux, WSL for short, is an environment created on top of the Windows operating system that helps users run the Linux environment on their Windows 10 or Windows 11.
WSL includes things like command line tools, utilities, and other applications. But, keep in mind that you won’t get the default GNOME GUI that comes with other methods of installing Ubuntu in Windows 10.
That is to say, you can only run Ubuntu through the Windows Terminal by using WSL. Also, to run WSL, you’ve to meet certain minimum requirements on Windows 10 or Windows 11; here they are:
- 64-bit operating system.
- Windows 10 build 14393 or later.
If you meet the above minimum requirements, you should be able to run Ubuntu on Windows without any difficulties. Here’s how:
On your Windows machine, go to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘windows features,’ and select the Best match. The Windows Features will be launched.
On it, select the Turn Windows Features on or off feature. From there, scroll down to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, select the checkbox and click on OK.
Windows will begin installing the WSL files, so give it a few minutes. After the installation is finished, reboot your PC or let it reboot by itself if you have the option.
After the reboot, launch the Command prompt. Go to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘cmd,’ and select the Best match. In the Command prompt, type bash and hit Enter.
Now you need to install Ubuntu on Windows, so head to https://aka.ms/wslstore. As soon as you enter the website URL in the address bar, Microsoft Store will be launched on your PC.
There, you’ll see a host of different Linux distributions that you are free to run side-by-side on your Windows operating system. Click on Ubuntu. From there, click on Get to download Ubuntu on Windows.
Next, click Install to install Ubuntu on Windows.
The Ubuntu environment installation will begin on your PC. When the installation gets finished, click on Open to open Ubuntu on Windows.
A new window will get launched and the Ubuntu installation will begin in your WSL. The installation might take a few minutes to complete, depending on your internet speed. So don’t worry if it takes a while.
When Ubuntu installation is complete, you’ll be prompted to set a username. Type in a relevant name and hit Enter. Next, you’ll have to set a password. Do that. Once you’re done with all the credentials, Ubuntu will be all set up.
After everything’s set and done, it’s a good idea to do a quick update for your Ubuntu. Run the following command and hit Enter:
# sudo apt update
Wait till the update gets completed and by the time you’re done, Ubuntu will be successfully running on your PC. Now you can access the Ubuntu command line whenever you want on Windows 10 or Windows 11.
2. Install Ubuntu on Windows from a USB stick
Installing Ubuntu on Windows through the above method works. But, it doesn’t really give you the complete feel of the Ubuntu operating system, which nowadays comes with a GNOME GUI.
The second method on our list is designed to get around just this problem. You can run Ubuntu on Windows from a USB stick without any difficulties.
All you need is the Ubuntu ISO installation media, a USB drive, and software to make your USB stick bootable and write the ISO file onto the stick. There’s a plethora of apps online that can help make your USB bootable.
For this example, we’ve chosen Rufus. You can pick whichever you like.
Let’s first download the Ubuntu ISO file. Head to the official Ubuntu download page, and get the file from there. Currently, the latest LTS version is Ubuntu 20.04.3, so we’ll download that.
After you’ve downloaded the relevant file, you now need to download the Rufus app from the official website. When the download is complete, run the application and then insert your USB stick to make it bootable.
On the main menu of Rufus, click on SELECT, and pick the ISO file you’ve just downloaded. Set the Partition scheme to MBR and Target system to BIOS or UEFI. Under the Format Options section, leave everything as default. Then click on START.
You might get a dialog box asking you to download some additional files. Click on Yes and the files will be downloaded, following which, the ISO copying process will also begin. In the next dialog box, select the Write in ISO Image mode (Recommended), and click on OK.
The copying will get completed in a few seconds and when everything’s done, click on Close.
Now whenever you need to run Ubuntu on Windows, simply plug in the USB before starting up your PC and the computer will boot up from your USB drive. You’ll then get taken to the Ubuntu installation menu and from there, click Try Ubuntu.
That’s it! You’ll now be able to run Ubuntu on Windows 10 or Windows 11 whenever you want.
3. Install Ubuntu on Windows from a Virtual Machine (VM)
A Virtual Machine, or just VM for short, is a virtual environment that helps you run a computer within your computer. Think of it as running an operating system inside a specific VM app.
We’ve already covered how you can install Windows 11 on a Virtual Machine, so it’s no surprise that in the third method, we’ll install Ubuntu on Windows 10 or Windows 11 with a Virtual Machine.
We’ll be making use of Virtual Box here, an open-source Virtual Machine developed by Oracle. To get started, head to the official Virtual Box website and download the app from there; then install the app when you’re done with the download.
Now, we also need an Ubuntu ISO file again. You can download it from official Ubuntu download page as we did in the above step. After the download is complete, launch the VirtualBox and select New from the taskbar above.
In the new dialog box, give a specific name to your new virtual machine (I’ll be setting the name as Ubuntu), set the type as Linux, choose the Version as Ubuntu and click on Next.
Then decide a specific amount of RAM, which you want to assign to your virtual machine, and click on Next.
Finally, select the Create a virtual hard disk now radio box and select Create.
In the next dialog box, select VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) and click on Next. On the next menu, pick Dynamically allocated and click on Next. Finally, set the size for your virtual hard drive and click on Create
If you look at the left-hand side of your VirtualBox Manager, you’ll see the name of your virtual machine. To get it up and running, simply click on Start and your VM will be launched.
Now we’ve to pick the Ubuntu ISO file that you downloaded earlier. Click on Add, choose the Ubuntu image, and select Open. Then click on Choose > Start.
Ubuntu will be launched on your Virtual Machine. From there, select the language of your choice, and you’ll see two options again: you can either ‘try’ Ubuntu or you can simply install it.
Pick the one you like, follow the on-screen instructions, and you’ll be able to run to Ubuntu on Windows through the VM from now on.
Ubuntu on Windows
And that’s it, folks. These are some of the easiest ways to install and run Ubuntu on Windows. Hopefully, you found the method that worked best for you and can run the Ubuntu OS without any hiccups.