How to Install and Use the Linux Bash Shell on Windows 10


The Windows Subsystem for Linux, introduced in the Anniversary Update, became a stable feature in the Fall Creators Update. You can now run Ubuntu and openSUSE on Windows, with Fedora and more Linux distributions coming soon.

What You Need to Know About Windows 10’s Bash Shell

This isn’t a virtual machine, a container, or Linux software compiled for Windows (like Cygwin). Instead, Windows 10 offers a full Windows Subsystem intended for Linux for running Linux software. It’s based on Microsoft’s abandoned Project Astoria work for running Android apps on Windows.

Think of it as the opposite of Wine. While Wine allows you to run Windows applications directly on Linux, the Windows Subsystem for Linux allows you to run Linux applications directly on Windows.

Microsoft worked with Canonical to offer a full Ubuntu-based Bash shell environment that runs atop this subsystem. Technically, this isn’t Linux at all. Linux is the underlying operating system kernel, and that isn’t available here. Instead, this allows you to run the Bash shell and the exact same binaries you’d normally run on Ubuntu Linux. Free software purists often argue the average Linux operating system should be called “GNU/Linux” because it’s really a lot of GNU software running on the Linux kernel. The Bash shell you’ll get is really just all those GNU utilities and other software.

While this feature was originally called “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows,” it also allows you to run Zsh and other command-line shells. It now supports other Linux distributions, too. You can choose openSUSE Leap or SUSE Enterprise Server instead of Ubuntu, and Fedora is also on its way.

There are some limitations here. This doesn’t yet support background server software, and it won’t officially work with graphical Linux desktop applications. Not every command-line application works, either, as the feature isn’t perfect.

How to Install Bash on Windows 10

This feature doesn’t work on the 32-bit version of Windows 10, so ensure you’re using the 64-bit version of Windows. It’s time to switch to the 64-bit version of Windows 10 if you’re still using the 32-bit version, anyway.

Assuming you have 64-bit Windows, to get started, head to Control Panel > Programs > Turn Windows Features On Or Off. Enable the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” option in the list, and then click the “OK” button.

Click “Restart now” when you’re prompted to restart your computer. The feature won’t work until you reboot.

Note: Starting with the Fall Creators Update, you no longer have to enable Developer Mode in the Settings app to use this feature. You just need to install it from the Windows Features window.

After your computer restarts, open the Microsoft Store from the Start menu, and search for “Linux” in the store. Click “Get the apps” under the “Linux on Windows?” banner.

Note: Starting with the Fall Creators Update, you can no longer install Ubuntu by running the “bash” command. Instead, you have to install Ubuntu or another Linux distribution from the Store app.

You’ll see a full list of every Linux distribution currently available in the Windows Store. As of the Fall Creators Update, this includes Ubuntu, openSUSE Leap, and openSUSE Enterprise, with a promise that Fedora will arrive soon.

To install a Linux distribution, click it, and then click the “Get” or “Install” button to install it like any other Store application.

If you’re not sure which Linux environment to install, we recommend Ubuntu. This popular Linux distribution was previously the only option available, but other Linux systems are now available for people who have more specific needs.

You can also install multiple Linux distributions and they’ll each get their own unique shortcuts. You can even run multiple different Linux distributions at a time in different windows.

How to Use The Bash Shell and Install Linux Software

You now have a full command-line…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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