DevOps Engineer NOT on Linux? Check out WSL2

Are you a DevOps Engineer but NOT using Linux? You’re missing out big time! In this blog post, I’ll share with you my recommended setup for Windows users using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2)


Below is a video explanation and demo.

Video Chapters

You can skip to the relevant chapters below:

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:42 – WSL 2 Installation
  • 06:21 – Windows Terminal Installation
  • 09:49 – Git Installation for WSL 2
  • 11:03 – Visual Studio Code with WSL 2
  • 17:37 – Docker on WSL 2
  • 20:27 – Wrap-up


As a DevOps Engineer, you really need to embrace Linux. I know this is not easy to hear for the Windows fans out there. While you can run most of the popular DevOps tools directly in Windows. You’ll have a much better time running in a Linux environment.

Fortunately, Microsoft has allowed Windows users to run a Linux VM in Windows 10 and higher. This is called Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 or WSL2 for short.

In this blog post, I share with you my recommended setup as a DevOps engineer running WSL2 on my Windows desktop. The above video lectures have been taken from my latest course: Terraform 101 – Certified Terraform Associate

Do you have other alternative setups? Please share them with me in the comments section.

The Main Tools Running in WSL2

The main tools that I use every day running in WSL2 are:
1. The Windows Terminal
2. Git
3. Visual Studio Code
4. Docker

DevOps Setup for Windows Users
DevOps Setup for Windows Users

Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is very simple. You just need to enter the following command in an administrator PowerShell window and restart your machine.

wsl --install

For more details, check out this install wsl article.

You will also need to set up your username and password in the Linux/Ubuntu VM. These login credentials are separate from your Windows login credentials. Check out this article for more details.

1. The Windows Terminal

Microsoft provides a really good terminal that allows you to work in multiple environments such as:
– Windows PowerShell
– Command Prompt
– Azure Cloud shell
– Ubuntu via WSL
– Other Linux VMs via WSL

There are many great features of this terminal such as splitting the terminal horizontally, vertically, multiple tabs, colour themes, and others. You can check these out by hitting CTRL + SHIFT + P.

The Windows Terminal
The Windows Terminal

For more details, check out this windows terminal installation guide.

2. Git in WSL

The good news is that Git comes already installed with most of the Windows Subsystem for Linux distributions, however, you may want to update to the latest version. You also need to get your git config file set up.

To update git to the latest version on Ubuntu run:

sudo apt-get install git

To configure git:

git config --global "Your Name"
git config --global "[email protected]"

For more details, check out the installing Git for Windows users with WSL article.

3. Visual Studio Code in WSL

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is an excellent Integrated Development Environment IDE. It is used for development in many programming languages and is a go-to for many DevOps Engineers.

Microsoft has allowed us to use VS Code with WSL via the Remote WSL extension. You can download this extension along with a few others that are very helpful via the Remote Development extension pack. You get the Remote – SSH and Remote – Containers extensions as well.

You can then easily open a VS code window from within your WSL environment by typing code . inside your working folder.

Alternatively, you could also open a Remote-WSL folder directly from VS Code by typing CTRL + SHIFT + P like this:

VS Code Remote WSL
VS Code Remote WSL

For more details, check out the installing Visual Studio Code with WSL article.

4. Docker with WSL

Finally, you would set up Docker Desktop for Windows with WSL2. By enabling WSL 2, you can run both Linux and Windows containers in Docker Desktop on the same machine.

All you need to do is go to the settings page on your Docker Desktop application by clicking the gear icon at the top right. Then Enable the check box: Use the WSL 2 based engine under the General tab.

Docker with WSL General Tab
Docker with WSL General Tab

Next, go to the Resources tab and check the box: Enable integration with my default WSL distro.

Docker with WSL Resources Tab
Docker with WSL Resources Tab

For more details, check out the Install Docker for WSL article.


This blog post explained how to run a Linux VM within a Windows environment. It’s almost impossible for a DevOps engineer not to use Linux on a daily basis. Microsoft made our life much easier by introducing Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) a few years ago. We also saw 4 essential tools to use with WSL2. These are:
1. The Windows Terminal
2. Git
3. Visual Studio Code
4. Docker


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