How to Install Nautilus GUI File Manager on WSL – Windows 10 Subsystem for Linux

Do you want to explore the WSL-Windows Subsystem for Linux file system using the FileManager Nautilus GUI? So here is the tutorial …

As we know, WSL 1 or WSL 2 uses a command line interface, which makes it difficult for a standard computer user to use a GUI based application. For example, if someone wants to view the file system, create, copy, or delete any folder, here or she has to go through the command line interface, which is sometimes a tedious job.

However, there is a way to explore the folders and files installed on WSL Linux applications such as Ubuntu 20.04 or 18.04 LTS using the GUI based file manager. Let’s see how to do this.

Install Nautilus GUI File Manager on Windows 10 Ubuntu WSL Linux application

Activate the Windows Subsystem for Linux

Indeed, to complete this tutorial, you must have at least WSL 1 on your system with the Linux Ubuntu 20.04 or 180.04 application installed. If you haven’t installed WSL on your Windows 10 or Server operating system, check out this tutorial: Install and Activate Windows 10 or WSL Server.

Download MobaXterm

It is a free application that comes with various tools to manage server and remote systems. It includes VNC, Xdmcp, FTP, SFTP, browser, RDP. Shell, Amazon S3, WSL, etc. here is official website link. Visit it and download it.

Create a WSL session

Install and run the downloaded file MobaXterm. On the main software window, you will see the Session option given on the upper left side. Click on it then select the WSL available at the end of the menu.

Create a Mobaxterm UIbuntu WSL session

MobaXterm can connect and run all WSL Linux applications available on your system directly on its own interface. So, from the Linux Distribution drop-down list, just select Ubuntu and click the OK button.

Select the ubuntu WSL app

Update your Ubuntu WSL Linux application

You will see the command line interface of your Ubuntu Linux application in the exact form if you open it directly from the Windows menu. Now, to make sure that all the repositories and packages installed on the WSL are up to date, run the update system command:

sudo apt update

Install Nautilus GUI file manager on Ubuntu WSL

To graphically access the Windows subsystem, we need to have a GUI file manager installed on it. So the Nautilus would be a good option, however, you can try any other you like to use. This tutorial is not limited to Nautilus only and we are only using it to show the process.

sudo apt install nautilus

Run Nautilus File Manager on WSL

Once this graphical file manager is on your system, type the following command to run it:

sudo nautilus

I am using sudo with the above command to give us the option to create folders directly using the file manager.

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Donald E. Hollingsworth

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