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Setting up your command line on Windows

I'd been frustrated and had resigned to give up on using the command line (CLI) on Windows. Alas, the Microsoft product seemed to not have improved since I started using the command line in High School back in the 90's. Clunky and completely lacking super useful tools, like 'which' on Linux/Mac, I'd just abandoned it. I even wrote scripts in Ruby to avoid using the command line in Windows (which is not a bad idea btw). Yet today I found the missing piece. I knew that you could install Cygwin on windows to get a Linux like prompt, but cygwin is a monster of an environment and you essentially have to live inside of it to use it. But I found Gow and all is well.

First things first, the terminal or command application on windows sucks. I highly recommend using Console2, which is a portable application that is way better at giving you a command prompt than anything Windows has by default, and it's free. You can set a start-up directory in it, so you can launch it from somewhere and have it start in your prefered directory. I haven't gone into all the options but it looks great.

Then install Gow. Which adds all the missing command line utilities to Windows. The list of applications is listed on the website and it's massive. The most important? The 'ls' command, because it's the one I miss the most. However, utilities like curl, which, and vim are awesome.


  1. Also give a try to ConEmu.
    Here is Scott Hanselman's article
    and some user reviews

  2. ConEmu does look interesting. I'll check it out. I like that there is a far manager that's like midnight commander for linux.


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