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Command Line Tools for Windows

 ·   ·  ☕ 3 min read

The humble ‘cmd’ in Windows is good enough, but who ever can be satisfied with stuff that is ‘good enough’?

tl;dr: Use cmder

I am a Windows guy through and through, but had been an active user of Linux on my main desktop and servers. While servers are largely managed through SSH or even CPANEL today, I switched to Windows only after experiencing multiple issues with boot loaders. It also helped that most of the programs I used were on Windows - thanks to my day job.

I did not use a lot of command line with most of the development happening on a browser in the last four years. But as I started looking at other platforms for my hobby projects, command line became more and more embedded in my daily work. It was only then that I started missing less, touch, magic through pipes, split, and friends.

I had tried multiple tools in the past, and revisited them to check which tool best satisfies my use case.

  1. GNU utils
    A bunch of utilities that bring Linux commands to Windows. These were my go to tools till recently. Not really maintained (i.e., no updates) but I have not seen any problems.

  2. Linux subsystem
    Install your favorite Linux distribution within Windows. Good interoperability, no boot issues - I loved the concept. The only downside is that it takes up a lot of space for an additional operating system.

  3. Virtual machines
    Create a virtual machine with a Linux operating system. Or, just download the ready made VMs from the Internet. I did not quite make this mainstream - inter interoperability is bit of a problem. I also cannot spare a lot of space - yes, even in 2018.

  4. Cygwin
    Cygwin provides a way to run a large no. of Linux tools within Windows. The tools use POSIX API offered by Cygwin. I am surprised why I did not use Cygwin as much as I should have.

While all of the tools and methods are great, none suited my work style. The intelligent thing for me to do was to change my work style, but I am not that intelligent.

Fast forward to 2018 and there were two big changes -

  1. VS Code offers an integrated terminal that proved really amazing and brought back my love for command line tools. That took off a barrier in streamlining my workflow.

  2. Powershell changed the way I used command line in Windows. Even cmd underwent changes (Ctrl+V at last)

These changed my life.

And then, I stumbled upon Cmder.
cmder screenshot.jpg

  1. A cool command line tool (it is an emulator, uses ConEmu in the background)
  2. Access to bash commands using the full install option
  3. Has a ton of utilities and personalisation options
  4. Tabbed command windows

Cmder is my new best friend until I find the next shiny thing.

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Prashanth Krishnamurthy
Prashanth Krishnamurthy
Technologist | Creator of Things