I recently installed Ubuntu on WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). After installation, I added the Linux Mint repositories, and installed several packages from them (like mintinstall and cinnamon). Can I ask questions about this WSL setup on Ask Ubuntu?

I found conflicting ideas for these questions on the Tour page. It would be on-topic under

running third-party applications on Ubuntu,

but off topic because it may not be

directly related to Ubuntu, its community, or officially supported derivatives.

By the logo, it's still Ubuntu, but in the code, it's more of a hybrid (uses both Linux distro's repositories).

  • A cinnamon PPA or the actual Mint repo's?
    – Fabby
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 18:31
  • @Fabby I added the actual Mint repos to /etc/apt/sources.list.
    – Zackary
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 18:49

3 Answers 3


First of all, as Zanna already pointed out in her answer, WSL is on topic here as decided by this meta discussion:

Do we consider "Ubuntu on Windows 10" the same as an official Ubuntu flavour? Do we support it? To what extent?

In general, adding a non-Ubuntu repository to your system doesn't bar you from asking questions here. If that were so, anyone who had dared add a PPA, for example, wouldn't be able to ask here! The general rule is that if you installed an official Ubuntu flavor, then your system is on topic. That's why we allow questions about non-Ubuntu kernels, about desktop environments—such as cinnamon—not used as the default environment of any Ubuntu flavor, about non-default shells and software in general.

However, if your problem is directly related to the mint repositories you added; if, for example, there is a compatibility issue with the packages in the repository and you can't install something because you have the Mint repos, then I would say your problem is off topic and you should probably ask on Super User or Unix & Linux.

If, on the other hand, yours is a general question about using WSL, then the fact that you happen to have added an extra repository doesn't mean that your question is off topic, no.

  • 1
    Thanks, I appreciate this and I mostly agree, but this seems slightly at odds with that answer. Maybe I'm missing something in the difference between repositories and software, but "if there is a compatibility issue with the packages in the repository and you can't install something because you have the Mint repos, then I would say your problem is off topic" seems off to me. If someone asked a question here like "I'm using Mint, and I added this Ubuntu repository and now I have a package management issue" I would vote to close that question...
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 15:01
  • @Zanna well yes, because they would be using mint, not Ubuntu. I guess I was trying to say that if the problem is on the Mint side of things, say their repo has an issue, then we can't help.
    – terdon
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 15:22
  • 1
    Yeah, but I mean, if there was an SE site where Mint was on topic but not Ubuntu, I wouldn't expect the question we closed because it was caused by a problem with the Mint repositories to be on-topic there, leaving the asker with nowhere to go to get that repo issue fixed (except U&L, SU, etc!) though I guess that's beside the point.
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 15:26
  • @Zanna think of it this way: if the answer is "remove the Mint repos" and the OP is fine with that, let's call it on topic. If the answer requires correcting a problem on the Mint end, then I would say it's off topic.
    – terdon
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 15:31
  • It's like US and EU warranty laws, except we actually respect them. As long as what you did didn't cause the issue, it's irrelevant. Commented May 24, 2018 at 11:23

If running Ubuntu with additional Mint repositories is on topic here, then running WSL (which is on-topic) with additional Mint repositories is on topic here.

I am not aware of a policy here that adding repositories from another distro (usually a bad idea) constitutes off-topicness, and I would expect most users to find such a policy extremely surprising.

This answer is relevant here.

I think the important question to ask when deciding if a question is on-topic is "Is this about Ubuntu?" but unfortunately people often ask themselves "Is this (also) about something that isn't Ubuntu?" instead. That's the wrong question to ask.

WSL is Ubuntu and questions about running it are on topic.

We should not close questions just because they smell Minty/Windowsy.

  • 3
    Yes, this. Exactly this.
    – terdon
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 12:14
  • 1
    Agreed though I partly don't like itUbuntu + something 3rd party has always been ontopic. But I believe WSL itself should have its own place and questions about the 3rd party can be asked but I would evaluate those on a case by case: it might require expertise we are not expected to have.
    – Rinzwind
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 14:53

Personally, whether on topic or no, I (for one) would certainly hesitate to dive down this particular rabbit hole and would also be unlikely to trust any answers received. Let's think for a moment what's required to do a credible job here.

A) WSL loaded on a Windows platform (Fairly easy to obtain)

B) The desire to risk instability by unnecessarily adding Mint repositories to you installation. (A pretty unlikely choice).

C) The willingness to spend the time answering a question that is unlikely to help anyone other than the slim population that has done exactly what you have done. Quite possibly only you.

I fail to see the benefit of adding Mint repositories to a system that has no GUI and AFAICT only supports the CLI. I would advise against the course of action and would be unlikely to personally encourage it by answering questions about it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own.

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