Category Archives: wsl

Using WSL as regular Linux host on same network with 10 gigabit and NFS

What if you could use WSL as a regular Linux host on same network? For developers this would be big right? What about app developers that test apps on Windows, Linux, Android, Web etc. You could do it all from one place, and have convenience of mounting your NAS on your WSL machine with NFS to backup your WSL files you been working on, whether you working with flutter, flet, or whatever your preference is. Or maybe just you like to ssh into your WSL machine to run Unix commands on your windows desktop from your laptop etc…

Alright let’s assume we are a developer and not a hacker, we will want latest Ubuntu LTS release(as developers always test with this distro more than anything else), but feel free to install Kali instead if that’s your thing…

Let’s do it, what we will accomplish here is install Ubuntu-22.04 WLS2, we will start this instance when we login to windows in background so we can ssh into it, we will also mount NFS directory from our NAS so you can just copy anything you want to backup to it easily. So let’s say I do a lot of work in my /home/dan directory, I will mount NAS to /data directory and anytime I want to backup anything, I’ll copy it there. We could go more advanced and just mount our /home/dan directory from a FreeBSD zfs pool and revert snapshots to anytime we want 🙂 , but we will keep it simple…

On security end of things, you should only NFS mount anything on WSL that you normally map with samba from your NAS. If ever get malicious code on your windows computer, you don’t want to open your whole NAS to it. Worst case scenario you loose 2 days of your life reinstalling windows again with backups from private NAS backups and rolling back snapshots on your ZFS system.

Notes on backups

I personally have a 2nd server I leave offline and only bring it online occasionally to backup first NAS, blame SSD corporate greed, spinning drives cheaper but can only spin 3-6 years before they fail, so this ensures I don’t have 2 drives fail at same time on each if they don’t rust first lol. NVME’s are still only mainly used as OS drives, quite sad really. When I used to work for fortune 500 companies they used to backup regularly to tape drives, and every few months send that backup offsite as well. If their colocation caught fire, they didn’t loose everything this way. So while it’s a good idea to do an onsite solution like I have, it’s also a good idea to rent a VPS/dedicated/colocated server and backup stuff there occasionally as well.

In the 90s I use used to program in C etc, I kicked my PC to many times and the drive failed, lost a whole year worth of C programming libraries I made, never touched it again, went into perl/php/python after that. Another example, one backup server one time I forgot to create ZFS snapshots on it, so one day when first server had drive fail, I replaced it with a blank slate, the backup server then rsync’d an empty drive one night before I got to it and lost almost everything. So moral of story is, a) snapshots b) 2nd NAS to backup first c) copy things you want to keep offsite in case of a fire. You decide, but I know how long apps take to develop when your new at it, I’d hate to see you give up on a project because you didn’t use github or a VPS.

Notes on FreeBSD

I can’t stress enough how your servers should be running FreeBSD as main host. By utilizing BHYVE virtualization your virtual hosts will be rock solid, and the ports collection is enormous, it is essentially a sys admin’s dream. See my previous posts on running FreeBSD with vm-byve. Not just the fact you have more packages available to you than any other OS on the planet, the main reason is ZFS. Linus Torvalds already stated he won’t allow ZFS in Linux kernel, and always people hacking it in there on their Linux distros is a real waste of time, for backing up data, there is no better OS. At home my FreeBSD servers do everything, wireguard, DNS, DHCPD, backups, snapshots, virtual hosts, 10 gigabit fiber, you name it, it’s something you can’t do with prebuilt solutions like FreeNAS, proxmox, etc taking the control away from you. Take control back and you won’t regret it. I even demonstrated how to run home assistant with it and not needing to buy a raspberry pie with inferior hardware 🙂

Getting started with WSL prerequisites

First thing we need is a bridge, this will allow us to be on same network as our regular LAN for dhcpd etc… If you don’t have 10 gigabit skip #2, replace your username dan with whatever your C:\Users\$username is…

1) create a bridge:
search for hyper-v, should see something to enable you to add that addons to windows, add then restart PC.
Now open Hyper-V manager, select <your PC name>, and select "virtual switch manager"
Now create a new virtual switch that is "external" and call it "WSL Bridge"
Check it has our external network 10GB card etc.
2) enable jumbo packet on new virtual switch
control panel -> Network and Sharing Center -> "vEthernet (WSL Bridge)" -> properties -> configure -> advanced
set Jumbo Packet to "9014"

Now we need to edit the main wsl file to use this bridge, again replace dan with your username:

3) In WSL:
nano /mnt/c/Users/dan/.wslconfig OR just do it from your C:\home\Users\dan\.wslconfig windows file
networkingMode = bridged
vmSwitch = "WSL Bridge"

PLEASE NOTE: could not get X11 forwarding working without ipv6 enabled
the reason is you would have to change in /etc/ssh/sshd_config "AddressFamily any" to "AddressFamily inet"

Let’s actually install WSL

wsl --list --online
wsl --install -d Ubuntu-22.04

Now let’s create a .bat file that runs when we login to start WSL automatically, in your C:\Users\$USER directory create a file called “WSL_start.bat” and let’s add to it:

:: Start WSL in backgound
TITLE Starting WSL

:: Section 1: Starting WSL in background
set OS=Ubuntu-22.04
ECHO ==========================
ECHO Starting WSL %OS% in background, please wait...
ECHO ============================

wsl -d %OS% --exec dbus-launch true

Close the file remembering to replace OS= with whatever distribution you want to start. You may say why not just use that one wsl line to do it instead, well when you reboot your PC and login for first time, what you would have is just a blank terminal screen executing something and you would have no idea what it is, this way it is informative, and you always know what it is, especially if you don’t have a superfast computer PCIE 5 PC, I’m on PCIE 4, and it’s around seconds.

Now let’s add that .bat file to “Task Scheduler”. Search for it and open it.

Go to “create task”. In “General” make sure “Run only when user is logged on” is checked. In “Triggers” select “Specific User” should be yourself. And on “Begin the task” select “At log on”. In “Actions” click “browse” and point to .bat file we created.

And that’s it we have a task created to start our WSL anytime we login, perfect.

Let’s start WSL

Open powershell and just type WSL and hit <tab> should autocomplete for you and hit enter:

PS C:\Users\dan> .\WSL_start.bat
Starting WSL Ubuntu-22.04 in background, please wait...
PS C:\Users\dan>

Great now just login with “wsl” or “bash”. You can now check with “ifconfig -a” or “ip a” that your on same subnet as your regular LAN.

sudo su
apt install openssh-server
apt install  nfs-common
systemctl enable --now ssh

You should now be able to login with ssh, good to go. Go ahead and restart WSL and make sure everything working alright:
wsl --shutdown
nano /etc/wsl.conf
#ADD following:
hostname = wsl
generateHosts = false

What we are doing here is setting our hostname and saying don’t overwrite /etc/hosts, that way you can add your IP to it etc without it getting overwritten. There is another option you can add to not overwrite /etc/resolv.conf, personally I feed it info with my DHCPD server so I like leaving if but it is “generateResolvConf = false”. If you set this option you need to restart WSL and it will completely nuke /etc/resolv.conf first time, so best to make a copy before rebooting then copy it back. Doing this however is only reliable way then to use hostnames in your /etc/fstab instead of IP address. Personally I feed the host it’s static IP address, MTU, DNS etc with my DHCPD server using it’s mac address so it’s good for me, if you want an example from my dhcpd.conf on FreeBSD I have following with isc-dhcpd currently for WSL:

subnet netmask {
       default-lease-time 259200;
       max-lease-time 432000;
       option broadcast-address;
       option domain-name "";
       option routers;
       option domain-name-servers,;

host wsl {
  hardware ethernet 5e:bb:f6:9e:ee:fa;
  option interface-mtu 9000;

This is a more convenient way to do it, that way you control WSL and everything on your network from one file. Obviously remove MTU line if you don't have 10 gigabit :) If you want to get more fancy, also edit your /etc/hosts , and also your reverse DNS on bind and add it as well, but for most part this will suffice. I'm generally lazy editing bind reverse file, dhcpd.conf and /etc/hosts on main host is fine.

This is what my /etc/hosts file looks like on wsl:
::1             localhost       localhost    wsl

Now let’s setup NFS, please note with NFS use IP address and not a hostname, only reliable way to use hostnames with NFS in /etc/fstab is if “generateResolvConf = false”, if that is something you really want then this is how I would do it:

cp /etc/resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf.old
wsl --shutdown (windows)
wsl -d Ubuntu-22.04 --exec dbus-launch true (windows)
cp /etc/resolv.conf.old /etc/resolv.conf; pico /etc/resolv.conf

But I don’t, just here for reference.

NFS setup:

Add to /etc/fstab your mount, on your NAS make sure to allow IP etc in /etc/exports and restart mountd so wsl can access it then:

mkdir /data
pico /etc/fstab
#ADD following: /data nfs vers=4,auto,noatime,nolock,tcp 0 0

Use your NAS IP and folder, but that it, now try it out:

mount /data

If everything went alright and you can see your files “ls -al /data”, your good to reboot and check NFS mount mounts on startup:

wls --shutdown

And that’s it, you have NFS.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft should be adding ways to start WSL headless for us, also a way to access serial console. This however should get you going, until next time…..