How to get Bash running on Windows

It's real, it's here, and it's a little bit buggy

Unix command line users around the world rejoiced when Microsoft announced recently it would be bringing the popular Bash shell to Windows 10 with a forthcoming update. Last Wednesday, the company released a beta build of its operating system that finally had support for the new functionality.

To get it working, users have to jump through a few hoops. First, the system is only available right now for users who have build 14316 of Windows 10. To get it, a PC has to be a part of the Windows Insider Program's Fast ring.

After installing the beta, users have to toggle Developer Mode on in Settings > Updates and Security > For Developers. From there, they have to open up another settings pane, check the "Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta)," restart their computer, and open a DOS command prompt and run the bash command.

Windows 10 will then prompt them to confirm they want to install the Bash beta and run through an installation process before starting up the Linux subsystem with a Bash prompt.

It's an arduous process, but once everything is said and done, users are left with Bash on Windows. Seriously. It's still beta software and there are definitely bugs -- top caused the whole system to lock up, and using apt-get to install Emacs hung once before it actually worked. But overall, it's responsive and useful in early tests. 

There's one other finicky tidbit -- while the Bash prompt shows that it's being run as a superuser, its permissions are still tied to the active user account unless it's launched using the "run as an administrator" option in Windows. That's something Microsoft promises to change in the future, so users will have user-level permissions and then be able to use sudo to elevate themselves to superuser status when necessary.

Microsoft still has more tricks up its sleeve when integrating command-line developer tools with the open-source ecosystem. The company plans to bring more shells to Windows, so fans of csh and other environments will have something to play with, too.

What's more, the popular PowerShell scripting tool may be making an appearance on Linux. Jeffrey Snover, a technical fellow at Microsoft, coyly hinted at the possibility of porting the tool over to Linux during an interview at Microsoft's Build developer conference earlier this month.

There's been a lot of demand for PowerShell on Linux, he said, but it hasn't been done before because .NET wasn't available on Linux. Now that Microsoft has open-sourced that development environment, however, the possibility is on the table.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftWindows 10

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?