How to Install Kali Linux 2023 with GUI on Windows 11 (WSL2)

Are you interested in running Kali Linux with a graphical user interface on your Windows 11 computer without having to use a virtual machine or VMware? If so, you’re in luck because with WSL 2 & WSLg, you can install Kali Linux 2023 on Windows 11 easily and for free.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to install Kali Linux 2023 with a desktop environment on Windows 11 using WSL.

What is WSL2?

WSL2 stands for Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2. It’s essentially a Linux environment with a kernel compiled by Microsoft that’s optimized for Linux distros. This means you can run Ubuntu, Kali Linux, OpenSUSE, and more inside Windows 11 as part of the application.

With the help of WSLg, you can even run Linux GUI apps and desktop environments inside Windows 11. Compared to VirtualBox or VMware, WSL2 is much faster and quicker.

System Requirements

Before we start, please ensure that your computer meets the following requirements:

  • You’re running the latest version of Windows 11.

  • Your computer supports hardware virtualization, which is enabled by default on modern computers. If it’s disabled, make sure to enable it from the BIOS.

WSL Setup

To set up WSL, follow these steps:

  • Open Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt as administrator.

  • Type the command wsl --install and press Enter. This command will download and install a WSL2 kernel, GUI support, and the Ubuntu image automatically.

  • Restart your computer.

  • After rebooting, you’ll see a command prompt busy wrapping up the Linux installation. You can go ahead and set up a username and password for Ubuntu.

  • If you notice, Ubuntu is available as an app on Windows 11 and can be accessed from the Start menu.

Installing Kali Linux 2023

To install Kali Linux 2023, follow these steps:

  • Open Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt as administrator.

  • Type the command wsl -l -v to list out the installed Linux distributions.

  • Type the command wsl --list --online to see the available Linux distributions. You’ll see Kali Linux, which is available to install.

  • To install Kali Linux, type the command wsl --install -d kali-linux. This will download and install Kali Linux 2023 on Windows 11.

  • After that, you will enter into Kali Shell Environment. Go head and update the repository list by typing: sudo apt update

  • If you want to install the full edition of Kali, which includes many useful tools, type the command sudo apt install kali-linux-large. Please ensure you have at least 20GB of free space left on your drive before running this command.

Basic WSL Commands

Here are some basic WSL commands you can use:

  • Type exit to get out of the Linux shell and go back to the Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt.

  • To see the list of installed distributions, type wsl --list.

  • To change the default distribution to Kali Linux, type wsl --set-default kali-linux.

  • To see the running status of Linux distributions, type wsl -l -v.

  • To shut down the lightweight virtual machine, type wsl --shutdown.

Installing XFCE Desktop

To install the XFCE desktop environment for Kali Linux, follow these steps:

  • Open Kali Linux Terminal by typing “wsl” on Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt, or run Kali Linux from the Start menu.

  • Update the repositories of Kali Linux by typing sudo apt update.

  • Install the XFCE desktop environment by typing sudo apt install kali-win-kex. This will download and install XFCE for Kali Linux.

  • Type kex --win -s and press Enter to connect to the VNC server.

  • Set a password and choose whether to set a view-only password.

NOTE: To exit the VNC server, press F8 to bring up the context menu and select “Disconnect from the server“. If you want to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 11, follow these steps:

Running Linux GUI Apps

If you want to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 11, follow these steps:

  • Open the Kali Linux Terminal.

  • Install an app like Blender by typing the command sudo apt install blender

  • Now, you can run Linux GUI apps like Blender within Windows 11.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed Kali Linux 2023 with a graphical user interface on Windows 11 using WSL.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. If you want to learn more about WSL usage, you can run the command wsl --help.

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