Install Portainer BE with Docker Swarm on WSL / Docker Desktop

These installation instructions are for Portainer Business Edition (BE). For Portainer Community Edition (CE) refer to the CE install documentation.


Portainer consists of two elements, the Portainer Server, and the Portainer Agent. Both elements run as lightweight Docker containers on a Docker engine. This document will help you install the Portainer Server container on your Windows environment with WSL and Docker Desktop. To add a new WSL / Docker Desktop Swarm environment to an existing Portainer Server installation, please refer to the Portainer Agent installation instructions.

To get started, you will need:

  • The latest version of Docker Desktop installed and working.

  • Swarm mode enabled and working, including the overlay network for the swarm service communication.

  • Administrator access on the manager node of your Swarm cluster.

  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) installed and a Linux distribution selected. For a new installation we recommend WSL2.

  • By default, Portainer will expose the UI over port 9443 and expose a TCP tunnel server over port 8000. The latter is optional and is only required if you plan to use the Edge compute features with Edge agents.

  • The manager and worker nodes must be able to communicate with each other over port 9001.

  • A license key for Portainer Business Edition.

The installation instructions also make the following assumptions about your environment:

  • Your environment meets our requirements. While Portainer may work with other configurations, it may require configuration changes or have limited functionality.

  • You are accessing Docker via Unix sockets. Alternatively, you can also connect via TCP.

  • SELinux is disabled within the Linux distribution used by WSL.

  • Docker is running as root. Portainer with rootless Docker has some limitations, and requires additional configuration.

  • You are running a single manager node in your swarm. If you have more than one, please read this knowledge base article before proceeding.

  • If your nodes are using DNS records to communicate, that all records are resolvable across the cluster.


Portainer can be directly deployed as a service in your Docker Swarm cluster. Note that this method will automatically deploy a single instance of the Portainer Server, and deploy the Portainer Agent as a global service on every node in your cluster.

Only do this once for your environment, regardless of how many nodes are in the cluster. You do not need to add each node in your cluster as a separate environment in Portainer. Deploying the manifest to your swarm will include every node in the cluster automatically. Adding each node as a separate environment will also consume more of your licensed node count than you may expect.

To begin the installation, first retrieve the stack YML manifest:

curl -L -o portainer-agent-stack.yml

Then use the downloaded YML manifest to deploy your stack:

docker stack deploy -c portainer-agent-stack.yml portainer

By default, Portainer generates and uses a self-signed SSL certificate to secure port 9443. Alternatively you can provide your own SSL certificate during installation or via the Portainer UI after installation is complete.

Logging In

Now that the installation is complete, you can log into your Portainer Server instance by opening a web browser and going to:


Replace localhost with the relevant IP address or FQDN if needed, and adjust the port if you changed it earlier.

You will be presented with the initial setup page for Portainer Server.

Initial setup

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