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How to install the Kali Linux's Win-KeX desktop on WSL 2

The Win-KeX desktop environment

In the last week or so, Kali Linux 2020.3 was released for download. The new update introduced lots of new features but we want to focus on the Windows + Kali Desktop EXperience (Win-KeX), a GUI that can be used with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2.

To get started, you need to have updated to Windows 10 version 2004, if you are running this version you’ll want to install Kali Linux in WSL 2 next.

According to the Kali Linux documentation, you’ll first want to open PowerShell as administrator and run Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux then restart. Once you’ve done that, open up PowerShell again as the admin and run dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart and dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart then restart again.

Next, you’ll want to download the WSL 2 Linux kernel. After you’ve installed it open PowerShell as administrator once again and run wsl --set-default-version 2. Once all of that’s done, head into the Microsoft Store and install Kali Linux.

If you have Kali Linux installed on WSL 1, it will be necessary to upgrade it before continuing. Run wsl --set-version kali-linux 2 then open up Kali Linux in WSL to finish the setup.

At this point, you should have Kali Linux running on WSL 2, to get Win-KeX up and running, you’ll need to run sudo apt update && sudo apt install kali-win-kex within your Kali Linux installation. Once installed, type kex to run the Win-KeX interface.

The Kali Linux documentation also contains some extra commands that you can run to further customise your installation, however, these are beyond the scope of this guide.

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