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

Kalle H.
Updated on ・3 min read

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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.


Prerequisites

  • 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
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⁣2. Enable the "Virtual Machine Platform" optional feature.

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart
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⁣3. Restart your machine.

⁣4. After restarting set your WSL version to 2:

wsl --set-default-version 2
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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):

Full list of distributions

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 https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
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⁣3. You can verify the installation by typing node -v


Setting up VS Code

  1. Install Remote - WSL extension.

  2. Press the icon on bottom left to start new WSL session

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  3. That's it! :)


Bonus ⭐

Install yarn

sudo npm i -g yarn
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Install ohmyzsh

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/master/tools/install.sh)"
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You also need to change the default VS Code shell, press Ctrl+Shift+P:

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