Windows Subsystem for Linux - Debian 10.3

Vulcan, Hercules, Poseidon, Iapetus


  • Enable “Developer mode” in Settings –> Update & Security –> For developers
  • Press Windows key + R and run optionalfeatures.exe. Enable Windows Subsystem for Linux. Restart the computer.
  • Open Windows Power Shell as Administrator, then run the following line and reboot:
    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
  • Open the Microsoft Store and search for “Linux”. Choose and get Debian, as per 2020-03-10 this is Debian 10 Buster.
  • Open Debian from the start menu and complete installation.
  • Upgrade all packages:
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt upgrade
  • Install packages:
    sudo apt install vim
    sudo apt install wget
    sudo apt install zip
    sudo apt install rsync
  • Create /run/sshd folder:
    sudo mkdir /run/sshd
  • Create a shortcut to the executable on your desktop:
  • The root file system can be found at a path similar to:
  • Add Debian and Debian rootfs icons to the shortcuts

SSH Server

  • Install packages:
    sudo apt install openssh-server
  • Follow the SSH Client and Server guide. SSH into your host and open port 22 in the Windows Firewall.

Start SSH Server at Windows boot time

  • Open a bash command shell and allow <user> to run ssh as root, add the following line after %sudo:
    sudo visudo
    %sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
    <user> ALL=(root:root) NOPASSWD: /etc/init.d/ssh
  • Open Windows Task Scheduler and click Create Basic Task…
    1. General
      • Name : Start Bash SSH Server
      • Description: Start the WSL SSH Server via a bash command
      • Run only when user is logged on
      • Run with highest privileges
    2. Trigger
      • Begin the task: At log on
      • Specific user: <user>
      • Enabled
    3. Actions
      • Action: Start a program
      • Program/script: C:\Windows\System32\bash.exe
      • Add arguments (optional): -c “/usr/bin/sudo /etc/init.d/ssh start”
    4. Conditions
      • Start the task only if the computer is on AC power
    5. Settings
      • Uncheck Stop the task if it runs longer than:
    6. Alternative Action when starting a non elevated script “startup”
      • Action: Start a program
      • Program/script: C:\Windows\System32\bash.exe
      • Add arguments (optional): -c “/home/user/startup”
      • Script “startup”:
        sudo /etc/init.d/ssh start


Mounting encrypted drives

  • WSL can mount encrypted drives, but they must be mounted at the time wsl or bash runs the first time after boot.
  • If you do not execute any tasks when the host boots up, then just make sure your encrypted drives are mounted when you run wsl or bash.
  • If you do execute WSL tasks when the host boots up, replace the Task Scheduler entry for the trigger and make it rund after the Mount script has executed:
      <Query Id="0" Path="Microsoft-Windows-TaskScheduler/Operational">
        <Select Path="Microsoft-Windows-TaskScheduler/Operational">*[EventData[@Name='TaskSuccessEvent'][Data[@Name='TaskName']='\Mount']]</Select>
  • Remember to “Enable All Task History” under Actions tab. You might need to do this again after a Windows 10 major version upgrade.

Mounting external drives

mkdir /mnt/f
mount -t drvfs f: /mnt/f