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How To Fix “The Windows Subsystem for Linux instance has terminated” Error in WSL2

Ubuntu 14

If you’re using the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) and you’ve encountered the error message “The Windows Subsystem for Linux instance has terminated”, you’re not alone. This error, often accompanied by the mysterious “process exited with code 4294967295”, can be frustrating and confusing. But don’t worry, in this article, we’ll walk you through several solutions to get your WSL2 up and running again.

Understanding the Error

Before we dive into the solutions, let’s take a moment to understand what this error means. The error message is essentially saying that the WSL2 instance has stopped running unexpectedly. The exit code “4294967295” is a generic error code that Windows uses when a process terminates without providing a specific reason.

Step 1: Check Your Windows Version

The first thing you should do is to ensure that your Windows system is up-to-date. Microsoft regularly releases updates to improve system stability and fix bugs. You can check for updates by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

Step 2: Run WSL from PowerShell

Next, try running the wsl command from PowerShell. This may provide a more detailed error message that can help you diagnose the problem. To do this, open PowerShell and type wsl and hit Enter. Note any error messages that appear.

Step 3: Review Windows Event Viewer

The Windows Event Viewer is a powerful tool that can provide more information about system errors. To access it, press Win + X and select Event Viewer. Look for any events related to WSL2 or Ubuntu.

Step 4: Check for Conflicting Services

Some users have reported that certain services, particularly those listening on port 53 (DNS), can cause conflicts with WSL2. VPN software and Acrylic DNS Proxy are common culprits. If you have any such software installed, try disabling or uninstalling it and then launch the Ubuntu distro again.

Step 5: Remove NAS Storage Entry

If your Ubuntu distro fails to start due to a connection issue with NAS storage, you can try removing the NAS storage entry in the /etc/fstab file. This file is used to control how disk partitions and other block devices are mounted in Linux. You can edit this file using a text editor like nano or vim.

Step 6: Backup Your Files

If all else fails, you should at least try to backup your files. You can do this by navigating to the WSL file system, which is located at %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\CanonicalGroupLimited.Ubuntu20.04onWindows_xxxxxxxx\LocalState\rootfs. Copy any important files to a safe location.

Conclusion

While the “The Windows Subsystem for Linux instance has terminated” error can be frustrating, there are several potential solutions that can help you get your WSL2 instance back up and running. Remember to backup your files regularly to avoid data loss, and keep your system up-to-date to ensure you have the latest bug fixes and improvements.

How do I check my Windows version?

To check your Windows version, go to Settings > System > About and look for the "Windows specifications" section. The version number will be listed there.

How can I run the `wsl` command from PowerShell?

To run the wsl command from PowerShell, open PowerShell and simply type wsl and hit Enter. This will start the default WSL distribution.

How do I access the Windows Event Viewer?

To access the Windows Event Viewer, press Win + X on your keyboard and select "Event Viewer" from the menu that appears. The Event Viewer window will open, where you can view system events and logs.

How can I edit the `/etc/fstab` file in WSL2?

To edit the /etc/fstab file in WSL2, you can use a text editor like nano or vim. Open your WSL2 terminal and type sudo nano /etc/fstab or sudo vim /etc/fstab, depending on your preferred text editor. Make the necessary changes, save the file, and exit the editor.

Where can I find the WSL file system to backup my files?

The WSL file system is located at %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\CanonicalGroupLimited.Ubuntu20.04onWindows_xxxxxxxx\LocalState\rootfs, where xxxxxxxx represents a unique identifier for your specific WSL distribution. Copy any important files from this location to a safe location for backup.

How often should I backup my files in WSL2?

It’s recommended to backup your files regularly to avoid data loss. The frequency of backups depends on your usage and the importance of the data. As a general rule, consider backing up important files at least once a week or whenever you make significant changes.

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