The problem is described in more detail in the link below and there are a tons of posts in this thread but it was an arduous process and there wasn’t a lot of other information about this problem so I figured I would write up a quick summary of how to fix this for the case where the instructions aren’t quite enough.
Bascially, you need to run the lxrun command to reset Windows subsystem for Linux. The intructions were basically the following.
lxrun /uninstall /full /y Reboot Open an admin prompt or through explorer, delete all the content under the %localappdata%\lxss directory. Install using bash.exe or "LxRun.exe /install"
However, something strange happened and every time I tried to do this I got a neat little error.
PS C:\Users\jmreicha\AppData\Local> LxRun /install /y Warning: lxrun.exe is only used to configure the legacy Windows Subsystem for Linux distribution. Distributions can be installed by visiting the Microsoft Store: https://aka.ms/wslstore This will install Ubuntu on Windows, distributed by Canonical and licensed under its terms available here: https://aka.ms/uowterms Error: 0x80070005
Likewise, I couldn’t reinstall the Windows subsystem using other methods, I just got the same exact error. I was poking around a little bit more and found that the files the subsystem uses get saved off into %localappdata%\lxss. By default this directory isn’t displayed in Windows so in order to see this folder you need to uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” option in Windows Explorer View Options.
After showing OS files I was able to see the lxss directory and so I tried to delete the files, but got an interesting error message saying the files were no longer there and that Windows couldn’t remove them.
The only way I found to get around this problem was to rename the folder (hence the _old suffix in the screen shot).
After moving the directory to another name I was able to run the lxrun /install command and successfully reinstall Ubuntu.
PS C:\Users\jmreicha\AppData\Local> LxRun /install Warning: lxrun.exe is only used to configure the legacy Windows Subsystem for Linux distribution. Distributions can be installed by visiting the Microsoft Store: https://aka.ms/wslstore This will install Ubuntu on Windows, distributed by Canonical and licensed under its terms available here: https://aka.ms/uowterms Type "y" to continue: y Downloading from the Microsoft Store... 100% Extracting filesystem, this will take a few minutes...
I saw various renditions of the solution sprinkled around the internet but none of them seemed to mention how to handle the case where Windows couldn’t locate a file and therefore couldn’t actually delete the lxss directory and recreate everything.
I haven’t figured out how to hard delete everything in the newly renamed “lxss_old” directory, so if anyone has any input it would be appreciated. As far as I know its contents are still consuming some amount of space on the system.