I am new to Java development, I really want to understand the platform and as close as I can to the environment apps would actually run, that means Linux, Docker, Kubernetes, etc.

At the beginning I started by installing the IDE of my choice that is IntelliJ Idea, because I am such a big fan of Resharper I didn’t even think about any other IDE; I created a Linux VM and started there, and while it works fine, I found myself having the same network issues that I get every time I try VMs. I really think HyperV is not really an evolved platform to run VMs. That’s a shame.

So I turned to WSL2! The Windows Subsystem for linux is amazing! but I can’t run UI applications there… or can I?

Well, after talking to friends and reading a bunch of blog posts, I figured it is not that difficult to run linux GUI apps in windows! there are the steps to install IntelliJ Idea in WSL Ubuntu 18.

  1. Make sure you have the right version of windows to run WSL, which is Windows 10 Version 1607 (Anniversary Update) you can run > winver in a console to verify that ( will use > for commands that need to be run in PowerShell or windows Cmd)

  2. Look at this article to install and configure WSL2 and download and install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  3. In your windows, install an X Server.

    I installed VcXsrv because it was really simple using chocolatey:

    > choco install VcXsrv
  4. In your Windows machine, create a shortcut, and put this in the properties’ target :

    "C:\Program Files\VcXsrv\vcxsrv.exe" :0 -ac -terminate -lesspointer -multiwindow -clipboard -wgl -dpi auto

    This will tell the X Server the configurations it needs to allow connections from the WSL instance.

  5. In your WSL instance create an environment variable pointing to your host’s (the windows box) IP: (I will use $ as the prompt when a command needs to be run on bash.)

    $ export DISPLAY=<your IP>:0
    • this part I don’t like: I would love not to depend on the host’s IP, as it might change when you connect using different interfaces or DHCP servers
  6. If all is good, running

    $ xeyes

    will display this:


  7. Install the latest JRE in WSL:

    $ sudo apt update
    $ sudo apt upgrade
    $ sudo apt install default-jre
  8. Use wget to download and extract the Intellij idea. This is the link for the enterprise edition 2020 3rd quarter:

    $ wget https://download.jetbrains.com/idea/ideaIU-2020.2.3.tar.gz
    $ tar -zxf ideaIU-2020.2.3.tar.gz
  9. Change to the directory where the Idea running script is and run the idea launcher :

    $ cd idea-IU-202.7660.26/bin
    $ ./idea.sh
  10. The UI should be up and running!