Cannot access WSL2 instances remotely

If you rely on external (remote) access to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) you may have noticed that your manual port forwards have suddenly stopped working. Microsoft has started issuing WSL2 instances a randomized IP address on startup, which makes it difficult to reliably access services hosted in the Linux subsystem. However, it’s still possible to probe the WSL2 instance on startup and open the appropriate ports using Powershell.

Most existing solutions rely on legacy ifconfig, which has been deprecated in Ubuntu 20.04 (available in WSL2 via an in-place do-release-upgrade) in favor of ip.

Allow WSL2 to bypass the Windows Firewall with a Powershell task


  1. Download or copy-paste the following Powershell script to a local file:
// Copyright (c) 2021 Bryan C. Roessler
// This script will probe the WSL2 instance for its randomly assigned IP
// and open the requisite Windows Firewall ports
// This software is released under the MIT License.

# Get the WSL2 IP address (randomized on init)
$remoteport = bash.exe -c "ip -o -4 addr list eth0 | awk '{print $4}' | cut -d/ -f1"

# All the ports you want to forward separated by comma
$ports_a = $ports -join ",";

# Listening address

# Remove existing rules
iex "Remove-NetFireWallRule -DisplayName 'WSL2 Services' ";

# Add Inbound/Outbound exception rules
iex "New-NetFireWallRule -DisplayName 'WSL Services' -Direction Outbound -LocalPort $ports_a -Action Allow -Protocol TCP";
iex "New-NetFireWallRule -DisplayName 'WSL Services' -Direction Inbound -LocalPort $ports_a -Action Allow -Protocol TCP";

for( $i = 0; $i -lt $ports.length; $i++ ){
  $port = $ports[$i];
  iex "netsh interface portproxy delete v4tov4 listenport=$port listenaddress=$addr";
  iex "netsh interface portproxy add v4tov4 listenport=$port listenaddress=$addr connectport=$port connectaddress=$remoteport";
  1. Edit the port list to add any additional WSL2 ports you wish to expose
  2. Create a startup new task in the Windows Task Scheduler:

    • Name: ‘WSL2-Bypass’
    • Triggers: At log on, for any user
    • Actions:
      • Program/Script: powershell
      • Add Arguments: -ExecutionPolicy Bypass C:\Users\Bryan\Path\To\wsl2-firewall-rules.ps1
  3. Save the task and run it

Starting WSL2 services automatically at login

You can use your .bashrc in the WSL2 or simply append the following line to the beginning of your powershell task:

bash.exe -c "sudo /usr/sbin/service ssh start; sudo /usr/sbin/service unattended-upgrades start"

You can add or remove services as necessary. In order to be able to use root privileges without entering a password, you will need to edit the sudoers file using visudo and adding the following lines:

bryan ALL = NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service start ssh
bryan ALL = NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service start unattended-upgrades


  • Make sure that you have already made the appropriate firewall changes within the instance itself.
  • Make sure that your service is running.
  • Try probing for the IP address manually and connecting to the service from the Windows machine.

Enjoy unfettered remote access to your WSL2 services again!