Now that the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) can easily use GUI apps in Windows 11, you might be looking to branch out a bit from the command line. If you’re still fairly new to Linux, you might find the GUI a bit more welcoming and comfortable to use if you’re a long-time Windows user.
The easiest and most efficient way to install packages and applications on WSL is still via the command line, but what about just browsing? In Ubuntu you can search from the command line with
apt search but it’s not a good way to dig around and only really works if you know roughly what you’re looking for.
So, let’s install a GUI package manager. Here’s how.
How to Install a GUI Package Manager in Ubuntu on WSL
This is specific to Ubuntu-based distros that you have installed on WSL. Whether it’s the official Microsoft Store builds, the latest streaming version installed from an image file, or even something else like Linux Mint, which you might have installed yourself.
We’ll install the Synaptic package manager, and it’s as simple as entering a single command:
sudo apt install synaptic
The Synaptic Package Manager will now install, and to launch it, just type:
You can run it without
sudo privileges, but you won’t be able to use it because you still need the right permissions to install packages on Linux.
How To Use Synaptic Package Manager On Ubuntu For WSL
Once you’ve launched the Synaptic Package Manager, navigation is pretty straightforward. It’s important, however, to remember that this isn’t an app store, so don’t expect the same kind of user experience.
You’ve got search, you’ve got categories, and you can get screenshots for apps, so the main features of an app store are covered, but you’ll find more than just apps inside. . Any package you can install from apt is in Synaptic.
To install something, first check the box next to the package, then click Mark for installation. Do this with as many packages as you find, then when you’re ready to install everything, press the Apply button. Follow all prompts, accept, and you’re done. A progress bar will show you how things are progressing, and that’s about all there is to it.
Synaptic Package Manager isn’t necessarily the best way to install things on Ubuntu for WSL, but it can be useful and it’s certainly a nice comfort blanket for those who prefer not to use the terminal all the time.