I'm running WSL Ubuntu on Windows 10. I have a task to:

  • create an app that builds a small process tree in C++ (done)
  • watch tree through pstree (done, all processes are running, stopped by getchar()
  • And watch what does task//children folder contains in /proc.

The problem is there's nothing like children directory present here. I cd to directory by PID and open task directory. There I see another directory with same PID and nothing else. When I open this directory I see no children file either.

What am I doing wrong?

Edit/update: I found that this is configured by CONFIG_PROC_CHILDREN which seems to be disabled by default. How can I enable this then?

1 Answer 1


My guess is that you are using WSL1. But first ...

when I open this directory I see no "children" dir either

On my system, children is a file, not a directory. Just to make sure you are looking for the right type of item, but I'm guessing you would have spotted it even if it was a file instead of a directory :-).

$ cat /proc/1/task/1/children
9 10

But as I said, I'm guessing this based on your WSL version. Confirm the WSL version (1 or 2) by (from PowerShell or CMD):

wsl -l -v

If, as I suspect, it's WSL1, then it won't have support for CONFIG_PROC_CHILDREN. WSL1 does not use a real Linux kernel, but is instead a "translation" layer which converts Linux kernel syscalls to those of the Windows kernel. Either there's not a direct equivalent to map in Windows, or the WSL team chose not to implement that nuance.

WSL2, on the other hand, does use a real Linux kernel (Github repo). I'm guessing that you are on WSL1 since pretty much all versions of the WSL2 kernel have had CONFIG_PROC_CHILDREN=y in their .config. Here's a link to the oldest WSL2 kernel config settings where you can confirm.

To really do the type of kernel/process inspection you are trying, you'll want to be on WSL2. WSL1 is great for a lot of tasks, but the addition of the "real" kernel in WSL2 is going to smooth out a lot of inconsistencies you might find in the WSL1 "translation" mechanism.

If you have WSL2 installed and configured, you can convert your instance with (again, from PowerShell or CMD):

wsl --export <distroname> backup.tar
wsl --set-version <distroname> 2
  • 1
    Man you made my day. I indeed had a WSL1 version, and after converting to second, I got the task to its end. Children is a file indeed, that's a tilted typo, sorry :S Jan 14, 2022 at 18:33

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