How to run LXD containers in WSL2

Microsoft announced in May that the new version of Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2), will be running on the Linux kernel, itself running alongside the Windows kernel in Windows.

In June, the first version of WSL2 has been made available as long as you update your Windows 10 installation to the Windows Insider program, and select to receive the bleeding edge updates (fast ring).

In this post we are going to see how to get LXD running in WSL2. In a nutshell, LXD does not work out of the box yet, but LXD is versatile enough to actually make it work even when the default Linux kernel in Windows is not fully suitable yet.


You need to have Windows 10, then join the Windows Insider program (Fast ring).

Then, follow the instructions on installing the components for WSL2 and switching your containers to WSL2 (if you have been using WSL1 already).

Install the Ubuntu container image from the Windows Store.

At the end, when you run wsl in CMD.exe or in Powershell, you should get a Bash prompt.

The problems

We are listing here the issues that do not let LXD run out of the box. Skip to the next section to get LXD going.

In WSL2, there is a modified Linux 4.19 kernel running in Windows, inside Hyper-V. It looks like this is a cut-down/optimized version of Hyper-V that is good enough for the needs of Linux.

The Linux kernel in WSL2 has a specific configuration, and some of the things that LXD needs, are missing. Specifically, here is the output of lxc-checkconfig.

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc-checkconfig
 --- Namespaces ---
 Namespaces: enabled
 Utsname namespace: enabled
 Ipc namespace: enabled
 Pid namespace: enabled
 User namespace: enabled
 Network namespace: enabled

--- Control groups ---
 Cgroups: enabled

--- Control groups ---
 Cgroups: enabled

Cgroup v1 mount points:

Cgroup v2 mount points:

 Cgroup v1 systemd controller: missing
 Cgroup v1 clone_children flag: enabled
 Cgroup device: enabled
 Cgroup sched: enabled
 Cgroup cpu account: enabled
 Cgroup memory controller: enabled
 Cgroup cpuset: enabled

--- Misc ---
 Veth pair device: enabled, not loaded
 Macvlan: enabled, not loaded
 Vlan: missing
 Bridges: enabled, not loaded
 Advanced netfilter: enabled, not loaded
 CONFIG_NF_NAT_IPV4: enabled, not loaded
 CONFIG_NF_NAT_IPV6: enabled, not loaded
 CONFIG_IP_NF_TARGET_MASQUERADE: enabled, not loaded
 FUSE (for use with lxcfs): enabled, not loaded

--- Checkpoint/Restore ---
 checkpoint restore: enabled
 CONFIG_EPOLL: enabled
 File capabilities:

Note : Before booting a new kernel, you can check its configuration
 usage : CONFIG=/path/to/config /usr/bin/lxc-checkconfig


The systemd-related mount point is OK in the sense that currently systemd does not work anyway in WSL (either WSL1 or WSL2). At some point it will get fixed in WSL2, and there are pending issues on this at Github. Talking about systemd, we cannot use yet the snap package of LXD because snapd depends on systemd. And no snapd, means no snap package of LXD.

The missing netfilter kernel modules mean that we cannot use the managed LXD network interfaces (the one with default name lxdbr0). If you try to create a managed network interface, you will get the following error.

Error: Failed to create network 'lxdbr0': Failed to run: iptables -w -t filter -I INPUT -i lxdbr0 -p udp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT -m comment --comment generated for LXD network lxdbr0: iptables: No chain/target/match by that name.

For completeness, here is the LXD log. Notably, AppArmor is missing from the Linux kernel and there was no CGroup network class controller.

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ cat /var/log/lxd/lxd.log
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg="LXD 3.0.3 is starting in normal mode" path=/var/lib/lxd
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg="Kernel uid/gid map:"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - u 0 0 4294967295"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - g 0 0 4294967295"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg="Configured LXD uid/gid map:"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - u 0 100000 65536"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - g 0 100000 65536"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=warn msg="AppArmor support has been disabled because of lack of kernel support"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=warn msg="Couldn't find the CGroup network class controller, network limits will be ignored."
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg="Kernel features:"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - netnsid-based network retrieval: no"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg=" - unprivileged file capabilities: yes"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:10+0100 lvl=info msg="Initializing local database"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Starting /dev/lxd handler:"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg=" - binding devlxd socket" socket=/var/lib/lxd/devlxd/sock
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="REST API daemon:"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg=" - binding Unix socket" socket=/var/lib/lxd/unix.socket
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Initializing global database"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Initializing storage pools"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Initializing networks"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Pruning leftover image files"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Done pruning leftover image files"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Loading daemon configuration"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Pruning expired images"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Done pruning expired images"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Expiring log files"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Done expiring log files"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Updating images"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Done updating images"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Updating instance types"
 t=2019-06-17T10:17:14+0100 lvl=info msg="Done updating instance types"

Having said all that, let’s get LXD working.

Configuring LXD on WSL2

Let’s get a shell into WSL2.

C:\> wsl

The aptpackage of LXD is already available in the Ubuntu 18.04.2 image, found in the Windows Store. However, the LXD service is not running by default and we will to start it.

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo service lxd start

Now we can run sudo lxd initto configure LXD. We accept the defaults (btrfs storage driver, 50GB default storage). But for networking, we avoid creating the local network bridge, and instead we configure LXD to use an existing bridge. The existing bridge configures macvlan, which avoids the error, but macvlan does not work yet anyway in WSL2.

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo lxd init
Would you like to use LXD clustering? (yes/no) [default=no]:
Do you want to configure a new storage pool? (yes/no) [default=yes]:
Name of the new storage pool [default=default]:
Name of the storage backend to use (btrfs, dir, lvm) [default=btrfs]:
Create a new BTRFS pool? (yes/no) [default=yes]:
Would you like to use an existing block device? (yes/no) [default=no]:
Size in GB of the new loop device (1GB minimum) [default=50GB]:
Would you like to connect to a MAAS server? (yes/no) [default=no]:
Would you like to create a new local network bridge? (yes/no) [default=yes]: no
Would you like to configure LXD to use an existing bridge or host interface? (yes/no) [default=no]: yes
Name of the existing bridge or host interface: eth0
Would you like LXD to be available over the network? (yes/no) [default=no]:
Would you like stale cached images to be updated automatically? (yes/no) [default=yes]
Would you like a YAML "lxd init" preseed to be printed? (yes/no) [default=no]: yes
 config: {}
 networks: []
 - config:
     size: 50GB
   description: ""
   name: default
   driver: btrfs
 - config: {}
   description: ""
     name: eth0
     nictype: macvlan
     parent: eth0
     type: nic
     path: /
     pool: default
     type: disk
   name: default
 cluster: null 


For some reason, LXD does not manage to mount sysfor the containers, therefore we need to perform this ourselves.

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo mkdir /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/lxc/sys
ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo mount sysfs -t sysfs /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/lxc/sys

The containers will not have direct Internet connectivity, therefore we need to use a Web proxy. In our case, it suffices to use privoxy. Let’s install it. privoxy uses by default the port 8118, which means that if the containers can somehow get access to port 8118 on the host, they get access to the Internet!

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo apt update
ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ sudo apt install -y privoxy

Now, we are good to go! In the following we create a container with a Web server, and view it using Internet Explorer. Yes, IE has two uses, 1. to download Firefox, and 2. to view the Web server in the LXD container as evidence that all these are real.

Setting up a Web server in a LXD container in WSL2

Let’s create our first container, running Ubuntu 18.04.2. It does not get an IP address from the network because macvlan is not working. The container has no Internet connectivity!

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc launch ubuntu:18.04 mycontainer
Creating mycontainer
Starting mycontainer

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc list
|    NAME     |  STATE  | IPV4 | IPV6 |    TYPE    | SNAPSHOTS |
| mycontainer | RUNNING |      |      | PERSISTENT | 0         |


The container has no Internet connectivity, so we need to give it access to port 8118 on the host. But how can we do that, if the container does not have even network connectivity with the host? We can do this using a LXD proxy device. Run the following on the host. The command creates a proxy device called myproxy8118 that proxies the TCP port 8118 between the host and the container (the binding happens in the container because the port already exists on the host).

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc config device add mycontainer myproxy8118 proxy listen=tcp: connect=tcp: bind=container
Device myproxy8118 added to mycontainer


Now, get a shell in the container and configure the proxy!

ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc exec mycontainer bash
root@mycontainer:~# export http_proxy=http://localhost:8118/
root@mycontainer:~# export https_proxy=http://localhost:8118/

It’s time to install and start nginx!

root@mycontainer:~# apt update
root@mycontainer:~# apt install -y nginx
root@mycontainer:~# service nginx start

nginx is installed. For a finer touch, let’s edit a bit the default HTML file of the Web server so that it is evident that the Web server runs in the container. Add some text you think suitable, using the command

root@mycontainer:~# nano /var/www/html/index.nginx-debian.html

Up to now, there is a Web server running in the container. This container is not accessible by the host and obviously by Windows either. So, how can we view the website from Windows? By creating an additional proxy device. The command creates a proxy device called myproxy80 that proxies the TCP port 80 between the host and the container (the binding happens on the host because the port already exists in the container).

root@mycontainer:~# logout
ubuntu@DESKTOP-WSL2:~$ lxc config device add mycontainer myproxy80 proxy listen=tcp: connect=tcp: bind=host

Finally, find the IP address of your WLS2 Ubuntu host (hint: use ifconfig) and connect to that IP using your Web browser.


We managed to install LXD in WSL2 and got a container to start. Then, we installed a Web server in the container and viewed the page from Windows.

I hope future versions of WSL2 will be more friendly to LXD. In terms of the networking, there is need for more work to make it work out of the box. In terms of storage, btrfs is supported (over a loop file) and it is fine.

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1 pings

  1. Hey I ran in to some errors following this post – opened a issue about it here

    1. Thanks for the bug report link.

      Ubuntu 16.04 comes with LXD 2.0.x, but you can use LXD 3.0.x from the backports repository. Or, you can install the LXD snap package, which gives you the option for LXD 2.0, LXD 3.0 and LXD 4.0.

      When you upgrade from the DEB package of LXD to the snap package, you run sudo lxd.migrate which takes care of migrating your settings (if they exist), and also remove the old packages.

      Hence, in your case, if you are interested, you can file a bug report on LXD 2.0 at considering that LXD 2.0 is supported until 2024.

    • Leenn on August 20, 2021 at 07:56
    • Reply

    Does this How-To still work in august 2021 ?

  1. […] Xenitellis explains the way to do this on Ubuntu in this post (scroll down to near the bottom of “Configuring LXD on WSL 2”, and note that the other […]

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