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How To Move WSL Distribution to a Different Drive

/ Moving your WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) distribution to another drive offers several benefits, including freeing up space on your system drive, improving overall performance by utilizing a faster drive like an SSD, organizing multiple WSL installations for different purposes, facilitating easier backup and restore processes, enhancing portability by allowing the entire drive to be moved to another computer, and potentially improving system security by isolating WSL files on a separate drive. However, it comes with some downsides, such as increased complexity, potential performance issues if moved to a slower drive, and potential difficulties in troubleshooting problems post-migration. The decision to move your WSL distribution depends on your specific needs, preferences, and considerations regarding performance, organization, and security.

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✍️ BroJenuel
Dec. 07, 2023. 9:46 AM

First let us check what distros are we going to move to other drive by running this command:

wsl -l -v

Next, we need to make sure distributions are not running by running.

wsl --shutdown

Its optional but having a backup is important. You can create a directory where you want to put the backup on your system. In my case I will create a wsl folder iny my D drive. And then run wsl export to export the distribution.

mkdir D:/backup
wsl --export Ubuntu-20.04 D:\backup\ubuntu.tar

Wait till the WSL export is over (it may take much time). A TAR archive with your WSL ext4 file system will appear in the target directory.

Then you may remove the WSL files on the source disk:

wsl --unregister Ubuntu-20.04

Set up a new folder on a different drive for your Linux files and use a command to bring those files into the folder. In my case I will create WSL folder in my D drive.

mkdir D:\WSL

Then Let us run the import to import it in our WLS directory.

wsl --import Ubuntu-20.04 D:\WSL\ D:\backup\ubuntu.tar

There you go. You have now moved your distro to your other drive.

What is WSL?

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a feature in Windows that lets you smoothly use a Linux environment on your Windows computer, eliminating the need for a separate virtual machine or dual boot setup. It's designed to make life easier for developers who want to seamlessly switch between Windows and Linux. WSL allows you to install and run various Linux versions like Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali. WSL 2, the default type, employs virtualization to run a Linux kernel within a lightweight virtual machine, enhancing file system performance and ensuring full system call compatibility compared to WSL 1.

Why Developers use WSL?

Developers use WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) for various reasons, including:

1. Access to Linux tools and libraries: WSL provides a Linux environment within Windows, allowing developers to use their preferred Linux tools and libraries directly on their Windows machines. This is especially helpful for developers who work on cross-platform projects or need access to specific Linux tools not available on Windows.

2. Improved development environment: WSL offers a more familiar and efficient development environment for Linux developers compared to using a virtual machine. It integrates seamlessly with Windows, allowing developers to use the same text editor, terminal emulator, and other tools for both Windows and Linux applications.

3. Faster development workflow: WSL provides near-native performance, making it much faster than traditional virtual machines. This allows developers to work more efficiently and iterate on their code more quickly.

4. Improved cross-platform compatibility: WSL allows developers to run and test their code on both Windows and Linux environments, ensuring compatibility across different platforms. This is crucial for developers who need to target multiple platforms with their applications.

5. Enhanced collaboration: WSL enables developers working on different operating systems to collaborate more effectively on shared projects. They can use the same tools and libraries, share code seamlessly, and work together more efficiently.

6. Access to open-source software: WSL provides access to a vast ecosystem of open-source software available in the Linux world. This allows developers to leverage powerful tools and libraries that may not be readily available on Windows.

7. Flexibility and customization: WSL offers a high degree of flexibility and customization for developers. They can choose from various Linux distributions, configure the environment to their specific needs, and install additional tools and libraries as needed.

8. Continuous improvement: WSL is actively developed and improved by Microsoft, with new features and updates regularly released. This ensures developers have access to a powerful and continuously evolving development platform.

9. Cost-effective solution: WSL is a free and readily available solution for developers who need access to a Linux environment on Windows. This makes it a cost-effective alternative to purchasing and maintaining separate Linux machines or using expensive cloud-based solutions.

10. Futureproofing: As open-source software and cloud technologies continue to grow, WSL provides developers with valuable skills and experience working with Linux. This helps them future-proof their careers and stay competitive in the ever-evolving software development landscape.


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