Any opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my employer (I'm self-employed).

Apr 17, 2012

Get the UNIX feel in Windows 7

Every once in a while I've really missed having a Unix shell on my Windows box. When your e.g. monitoring a log file, Notepad just doesn't cut it. I've been using Cygwin on and off as an alternative to get access to handy tools such as catgreplesstailvi and so on. But I haven't really been too excited about Cygwin.

I discovered recently that Microsoft provides a Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications built-in to Windows 7. Fantastic! As with many other features, you'll have to enable it in "Windows features". When it's enabled, you'll need to download and install the Utilities and SDK for Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications. Then you'll find shortcuts to a C shell and a Korn shell in your start menu. I went with the C shell, which gave me tab completion, the up/down arrow command history etc.

And there it was! tail -f on a logfile:

If you haven't yet discovered the brilliance of Unix and its common tools, you might want to check out Microsoft's familiarization video :)

Unix-Klingz out.


  1. Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise only sadly. Being Professional isn't enough to use hax0r tools like this :)

    1. You're right! I never checked the system requirements. These hax0r tools are probably what makes it "Ultimate"! :)

  2. Thank you, thank you! I *know* I should learn power shell, but there's a learning curve there that I never have the time for when I need it, so sometimes I really miss the text processing pipelines of Unix for extracting summaries of this and that. This post was like discovering a gold mine. Korn shell with full multiline editing. Ctrl-z to bg. xargs. Even a working man command. Magic.

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