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How to setup WSL 2 for VS Code and Node.js development (2021)

Sep 11 '20 / 3 min read
This quick guide will demonstrate how to install the new Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2.
WSL enables Windows users to run GNU/Linux environment under a Windows host machine. No more virtual machines or dualbooting!
Note: The guide is written using Ubuntu as the Linux distribution, you may need to tweak the shell commands if want to use a different distro.


  • Windows version 1903 or higher (Build 18362 or higher for x64 systems)
ℹ️ Press Win+R and type in winver to find your version.

WSL 2 setup

Run following commands with elevated PowerShell.

Installing WSL 2

⁣1. Install WSL 1
dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart
⁣2. Enable the "Virtual Machine Platform" optional feature.
dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart
⁣3. Restart your machine.
⁣4. After restarting set your WSL version to 2:
wsl --set-default-version 2

Picking distro

Go to the Microsoft store and pick & install distro you like. I chose Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
The following Linux distributions are available as of now (10th Sep. 2020):
There are also 3rd party distributions for WSL available. ArchWSL is one of them.

Installing Node.js for WSL

😕 I ran into issues using NVM with WSL, we'll be installing Node.js the manual way.
⁣1. Open WSL by hitting Win+R and typing: wsl
⁣2. Run following commands (You may want to up the version number):
curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
⁣3. You can verify the installation by typing node -v

Setting up VS Code

  • Press the icon on bottom left to start new WSL session
  • That's it! :)

Bonus ⭐

Install yarn

sudo npm i -g yarn

Install ohmyzsh

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"
You also need to change the default VS Code shell, press Ctrl+Shift+P:
Code_-_Insiders_UIwhZNweek Code_-_Insiders_mKcIgqE13e