In this post, we will install Ubuntu 20.04 WSL package on an offline Windows 10 machine. Although this post is prepared with Ubuntu 20.04, the steps should be valid for other WSL packages too.
If your Windows machine is connected to the Internet and you can easily install
WSL packages via Microsoft Store like by clicking Download from the Microsoft
Store here. To install it on an offline machine,
first we get
.appx package for a corresponding guest OS from Microsoft. All
available Packages are listed
Transfer the downloaded package to the target offline machine. For example, when
I am writing this post, to install Ubuntu 20.04 I get
Enabling WSL on Windows
Open a PowerShell terminal and type
wsl. If you get an error about not recognized
command, first you should enable WSL. The official instructions are given
Alternatively you can do it with GUI. Find
Programs and Features on
Turn Windows features on or off as shown below.
After rebooting Windows,
wsl command should be available to use and should be
working on PowerShell. Since we don’t have any installed WSL guest OS on the PC,
it will say
... no installed distributions.
If your machine satisfies requirements for WSL 2 and you don’t have any specific reason to stick with WSL (1), I recommended to switch to WSL 2 now but you can stick with WSL (1) either. I am not using WSL 2 but I think the following steps should be fine for WSL 2 too.
Installing WSL package
In theory, the following command given in the official page should do the work.
Error: “The service has not been started”
After installing the package, you can find the installed software by typing
Ubuntu in Windows Start menu search. However in my case, I couldn’t
start the Ubuntu WSL and got the
The service has not been started. error as
shown below. This is probably related to version of Windows 10.
You can remove
Ubuntu found in Windows Start menu by right clicking and selecting
Uninstall since we won’t use it.
One solution recommended by Microsoft is extracting
.appx file with an file
archiver program, like 7-Zip by right clicking on file and selecting
option, and then running
After extraction please make sure that your folder is at right place. Although
it is possible to move folders to another location, in my case moving folders
after installation gives me
Cannot find the specified path error. So
before installation make sure that this is the correct location. After
rootfs folder is created next to
ubuntu2004.exe and file
system of the Linux will live here. So make sure that you have enough space for
your future needs. The WSL is somehow fragile 1. Although it is possible
to move files as moving ordinary files in Windows after installation,
be ready for side effects.
With first run the installation process begins
and you are prompted to select an username and associated password. After
completing installation, you can use your Linux distro. Notice that file system
for the Linux is created under
rootfs folder. After installation, Ubuntu 20.04
creates ~40K items in its folder.
Pitfall: Moving Ubuntu 20.04 After Installation
Cannot find the specified path error when I moved to another folder
after installation. Other people report the same problem too 1. In my case,
since I was using fresh Ubuntu installation, I reinstalled it but I don’t know the
proper solution if you don’t want to loose your distro. Some people also
reported that a Windows update also breaks the WSL 1, so… yeah, classical
Even if you decide to reinstall the Ubuntu at the new location, when you run
ubuntu2004.exe you get
The system cannot find the path specified error.
Even if you run
wsl on PowerShell you get the same error. The reason is
the previous machine is still registered. If you run
wslconfig /l, you will
see the previous machine. So first unregister the previous distro, example:
wslconfig /u Ubuntu-20.04
wsl command should run, then you can install the Ubuntu to a
If you know how to move installed distro without reinstalling again, please comment. Maybe this?
Error: “WslRegisterDistribution failed with error: 0x80070005”
When I tried to install the distro runnig
D: drive, I
got this error but if I run it on
C: drive everything works. This is probably
due to security settings of my Windows machine.
Since I don’t want to bother with these settings, I chose to Run as
D: drive. After installation, user is able to run the
distro and no privilege is required. Similar problems and proper solutions also
exist 2, 3, 4.
Although using a Linux distro on Windows in a native way is a very good experience, WSL doesn’t look so solid and may become broken after an Windows update. So if you are planning to use be ready for possible future problems.