WSL Service Error
WSL Service Error

Have you ever encountered the error code ‘wsl/service/createinstance/createvm/e_invalidarg’ while working with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)? If you have, you’re not alone. This error can be a roadblock for many, but fear not! This article is here to guide you through understanding and resolving this common issue in WSL.



This error indicates that an invalid argument was passed to a function while attempting to create a virtual machine (VM) for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) service. This usually stems from incorrect configuration or conflicting settings.

Possible Causes:

  • Incorrect WSL Version: The error is commonly associated with WSL 1 or incompatible WSL 2 versions.
  • Invalid Kernel Version: The specified kernel version might be unsupported or conflicting.
  • Distro Configuration Issues: Errors in the configuration of the Linux distribution (distro) you’re attempting to launch can trigger this error.
  • Insufficient Permissions: Administrative privileges might be required for certain WSL actions.
  • Software Conflicts: Third-party software, like antivirus or virtualization tools, might interfere with WSL.
  • Insufficient Resources: Insufficient system resources (memory, storage, etc.) could hinder VM creation.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check WSL Version:
    • Use wsl --list --verbose to verify the installed WSL version and distro details.
    • If using WSL 1, consider upgrading to WSL 2 for better compatibility and performance.
  2. Verify Kernel Version:
    • Ensure the kernel version is compatible with your WSL installation.
    • If using a custom kernel, cross-check for compatibility.
  3. Examine Distro Configuration:
    • Review the configuration files for the distro you’re trying to launch.
    • Look for inconsistencies or errors that might be causing the issue.
  4. Run as Administrator:
    • Execute WSL commands with administrative privileges to ensure sufficient permissions.
  5. Temporarily Disable Conflicting Software:
    • Temporarily disable antivirus or other software that might interfere with WSL.
  6. Check for Updates:
    • Ensure Windows, WSL, and the Linux distro are up-to-date with the latest patches and fixes.
  7. Free Up Resources:
    • Close unnecessary applications to free up system resources.
  8. Consult Online Resources:
    • Search for specific error messages or troubleshooting steps in online forums or Microsoft documentation.
  9. Reinstall WSL:
    • If the issue persists, consider reinstalling WSL components to address potential corruption.

Additional Information:

  • For more in-depth troubleshooting, provide specific details about your setup, including Windows version, WSL version, distro name, kernel version, and any recent changes made to your system.
  • Consult Microsoft’s official WSL documentation for further guidance:

Understanding the Error

The error ‘wsl/service/createinstance/createvm/e_invalidarg’ typically occurs due to issues related to the configuration or execution problems in WSL. It indicates a problem with creating a virtual machine instance, which is integral to the functioning of WSL on Windows.

Potential Causes

Several factors can contribute to this error:

  1. Virtualization Not Enabled: WSL requires virtualization technology in your system’s BIOS/UEFI settings. If it’s not enabled, you might face this error.
  2. Hyper-V Issues: Hyper-V is essential for WSL’s virtualization on Windows. Absence or problems with Hyper-V could lead to this error.
  3. Corrupted WSL Installation: Sometimes, the installation or configuration of WSL might be corrupted, leading to this error.

How to Resolve the Error

Now that we’ve identified the potential causes, let’s dive into the solutions.

BIOS/UEFI Settings

Check your BIOS/UEFI settings to ensure that virtualization technology is enabled. The steps to do this vary based on your computer’s make and model, but generally involve restarting your system and pressing a specific key like F2, F10, DEL, or ESC.

Installing or Enabling Hyper-V

For Windows 10 or Windows 11 users, especially those with Professional Editions, ensuring that Hyper-V is installed and enabled is crucial. You can check this by going to the Control Panel, selecting ‘Turn Windows Feature On or Off’, and verifying if Hyper-V is checked.

Resetting WSL

If the issue persists, try resetting WSL. This can be done via Windows PowerShell:

  1. Run PowerShell as Administrator.
  2. Execute wsl --shutdown to shut down WSL.
  3. Run wsl --unregister <DistroName> to unregister the problematic distro.
  4. Reinstall the Linux distribution with wsl --install.

Reinstalling WSL

A fresh installation of WSL can often resolve the issue. Use PowerShell to uninstall WSL with wsl --uninstall and then reinstall it with wsl --install.

Checking Distro Configuration

Examine the configuration of your Linux distribution in WSL. Use PowerShell to list the distributions with wsl -l -v and check their status.

Windows Event Log

If all else fails, the Windows Event Log might offer more insight. It can provide detailed information about the issues WSL is encountering.

Summary of Facts

  • The error code ‘wsl/service/createinstance/createvm/e_invalidarg’ is common in WSL.
  • Causes include issues with virtualization, Hyper-V, or WSL installation.
  • Solutions involve checking BIOS settings, ensuring Hyper-V is enabled, resetting or reinstalling WSL, and checking distro configurations.


What is WSL?

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) allows users to run a GNU/Linux environment directly on Windows.

How do I enable virtualization in BIOS/UEFI?

Access your BIOS/UEFI settings during startup (usually by pressing F2, F10, DEL, or ESC) and enable the virtualization technology option.

What should I do if resetting WSL doesn’t work?

If resetting WSL doesn’t resolve the issue, try reinstalling WSL or checking the Windows Event Log for more detailed error information.

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