Setting up the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10

With the Anniversary Edition of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system (OS), Microsoft provides a an Ubuntu-based Bash shell that will allow you to run Linux software on your Microsoft Windows 10 system. If you are unsure whether the Anniversary Edition update to Windows 10 is installed on a system, you can follow the steps listed at Determining which version of Windows 10 is installed. You can also use the instructions at Determining the version of Microsoft Windows from the command line. The Anniversary Edition is version 1607 of Windows. Or just checking the software build will reveal whether the Anniversary Edition is installed; if you see "build 14393" or later, then the Anniversary Edition is installed on the system.

The Windows system will also need to be using the 64-bit version of Windows 10 rather than the 32-bit version - see Determining if your version of Windows is a 32-bit or 64-bit version for methods that can be used to determine if the installed version of Windows is a 32-bit or 64-bit version.

If the version of Windows is appropriate, then you can follow the step by step instructions below to install the Linux subsystem.

Type settings in the Cortana "Ask me anything" field at the bottom of the screen and, when you see Settings with a gear icon to the left of it, click on it.

Windows 10 settings

Then select Update & Security, which will be at the bottom of the Settings window.

Windows 10 settings - update and
security

Next, select For developers.

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Windows 10 settings - For 
developers

From the "For developers" window, select Developer mode to "Install any signed app and use advanced development features.

Windows 10 - For developers

If prompted for administrator credentials, provide the account name and password for an account in the administrators group. You will then see a "Use developer features" window stating that "Turning on developer mode, including installing and running apps from outside the Windows Store, could expose your device and personal data to security risks or harm your device." Click on Yes to proceed to turn on developer mode.

Windows 10 - use developer
features

You can then close the Settings window. Next right-click on the Windows Start button at the lower, left-hand corner of the screen and select Control Panel. In the Control Panel window, click on Programs.

Windows 10 - Control Panel

Click on "Turn Windows features on or off" under Programs and Features .

Windows 10 - Programs and Features

Scroll down through the "Turn Windows features on or off" list until you see "Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta). Put a check in the check box next to that entry by clicking on the entry.

Turn Windows features on or off

Then click on the OK button. When the changes are completed, you will see a window informing you that "Windows needs to reboot to finish installing the requested changes.

Windows 10 restart required

You will need to reboot the system to use Bash on the system. After rebooting, if you type bash in the Cortana "Ask me anything" field, you should see "bash Run Command" as an option you can select to obtain a Bash command line interface (CLI).

Bash run command

The first time you do so, you will see a window open infoming you "This will install Ubuntu on Windows, distributed by Canonical and licensed under its terms available here: https://aka.ms/uowterms"; Type y in that window and hit Enter to continue.

Note: as an alternative method of installation of Linux on Windows, at this point you could open a command prompt window instead and type lxrun /install /y which automates the process by answering "y", i.e., "yes", to all prompts that would appear and sets the default user to root with no password. Presuming you, instead, proceed with the installation process that occurs if you hit Enter after selecting Bash when it appears after the Cortana search, you would then see the following window:

Linux Command Line Tutorial For Beginners
Linux Command Line Tutorial
For Beginners
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Insall Ubuntu on Windows

The software will then be downloaded from the Windows Store.

Linux for Beginners using Ubuntu
Linux for Beginners using Ubuntu
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Downloading Ubuntu on 
Windows from the Windows Store

When the download completes, you will see "Extracting filesystem, this will take a few minutes..." appear in the bash.exe window. You will next be prompted to provide a new UNIX username. You can type root or provide another user name.

-- Beta feature --
This will install Ubuntu on Windows, distributed by Canonical
and licensed under its terms available here:
https://aka.ms/uowterms

Type "y" to continue: y
Downloading from the Windows Store... 100%
Extracting filesystem, this will take a few minutes...
Please create a default UNIX user account. The username does not need to match y
our Windows username.
For more information visit: https://aka.ms/wslusers
Enter new UNIX username:

Once you've provided the username, you will get a Bash shell prompt.

-- Beta feature --
This will install Ubuntu on Windows, distributed by Canonical
and licensed under its terms available here:
https://aka.ms/uowterms

Type "y" to continue: y
Downloading from the Windows Store... 100%
Extracting filesystem, this will take a few minutes...
Please create a default UNIX user account. The username does not need to match your Windows username.
For more information visit: https://aka.ms/wslusers
Enter new UNIX username: root
Found UNIX user: root
Installation successful!
The environment will start momentarily...
Documentation is available at:  https://aka.ms/wsldocs
root@VANALLEN:/mnt/c/Windows/System32#

You can enter Unix/Linux commands at this point and see results similar to what you would see on a Unix, Linux, or OS X system at a Bash shell prompt.

root@VANALLEN:/mnt/c/Windows/System32# ps
  PID TTY          TIME CMD
    1 ?        00:00:00 init
    2 ?        00:00:00 bash
   12 ?        00:00:00 ps
root@VANALLEN:/mnt/c/Windows/System32#

From this time onwards, if you type bash in the Cortana "Ask me anything" field, you shold see "Bash on Ubuntu on Windows" returned as a "best match" for the Cortana search.

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Cortana - Bash on Ubuntu on 
Windows

If you type help at the Bash prompt when you open a Bash window, you will see a list of commands that you can run.

root@VANALLEN:~# help
GNU bash, version 4.3.11(1)-release (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu)
These shell commands are defined internally.  Type `help' to see this list.
Type `help name' to find out more about the function `name'.
Use `info bash' to find out more about the shell in general.
Use `man -k' or `info' to find out more about commands not in this list.

A star (*) next to a name means that the command is disabled.

 job_spec [&]                            history [-c] [-d offset] [n] or hist>
 (( expression ))                        if COMMANDS; then COMMANDS; [ elif C>
 . filename [arguments]                  jobs [-lnprs] [jobspec ...] or jobs >
 :                                       kill [-s sigspec | -n signum | -sigs>
 [ arg... ]                              let arg [arg ...]
 [[ expression ]]                        local [option] name[=value] ...
 alias [-p] [name[=value] ... ]          logout [n]
 bg [job_spec ...]                       mapfile [-n count] [-O origin] [-s c>
 bind [-lpsvPSVX] [-m keymap] [-f file>  popd [-n] [+N | -N]
 break [n]                               printf [-v var] format [arguments]
 builtin [shell-builtin [arg ...]]       pushd [-n] [+N | -N | dir]
 caller [expr]                           pwd [-LP]
 case WORD in [PATTERN [| PATTERN]...)>  read [-ers] [-a array] [-d delim] [->
 cd [-L|[-P [-e]] [-@]] [dir]            readarray [-n count] [-O origin] [-s>
 command [-pVv] command [arg ...]        readonly [-aAf] [name[=value] ...] o>
 compgen [-abcdefgjksuv] [-o option]  >  return [n]
 complete [-abcdefgjksuv] [-pr] [-DE] >  select NAME [in WORDS ... ;] do COMM>
 compopt [-o|+o option] [-DE] [name ..>  set [-abefhkmnptuvxBCHP] [-o option->
 continue [n]                            shift [n]
 coproc [NAME] command [redirections]    shopt [-pqsu] [-o] [optname ...]
 declare [-aAfFgilnrtux] [-p] [name[=v>  source filename [arguments]
 dirs [-clpv] [+N] [-N]                  suspend [-f]
 disown [-h] [-ar] [jobspec ...]         test [expr]
 echo [-neE] [arg ...]                   time [-p] pipeline
 enable [-a] [-dnps] [-f filename] [na>  times
 eval [arg ...]                          trap [-lp] [[arg] signal_spec ...]
 exec [-cl] [-a name] [command [argume>  true
 exit [n]                                type [-afptP] name [name ...]
 export [-fn] [name[=value] ...] or ex>  typeset [-aAfFgilrtux] [-p] name[=va>
 false                                   ulimit [-SHabcdefilmnpqrstuvxT] [lim>
 fc [-e ename] [-lnr] [first] [last] o>  umask [-p] [-S] [mode]
 fg [job_spec]                           unalias [-a] name [name ...]
 for NAME [in WORDS ... ] ; do COMMAND>  unset [-f] [-v] [-n] [name ...]
 for (( exp1; exp2; exp3 )); do COMMAN>  until COMMANDS; do COMMANDS; done
 function name { COMMANDS ; } or name >  variables - Names and meanings of so>
 getopts optstring name [arg]            wait [-n] [id ...]
 hash [-lr] [-p pathname] [-dt] [name >  while COMMANDS; do COMMANDS; done
 help [-dms] [pattern ...]               { COMMANDS ; }
root@VANALLEN:~#

You can obtain help information for a particular command by typing help followed by the name of the command.

root@VANALLEN:~# help disown
disown: disown [-h] [-ar] [jobspec ...]
    Remove jobs from current shell.

    Removes each JOBSPEC argument from the table of active jobs.  Without
    any JOBSPECs, the shell uses its notion of the current job.

    Options:
      -a        remove all jobs if JOBSPEC is not supplied
      -h        mark each JOBSPEC so that SIGHUP is not sent to the job if the
        shell receives a SIGHUP
      -r        remove only running jobs

    Exit Status:
    Returns success unless an invalid option or JOBSPEC is given.
root@VANALLEN:~#

Just as on a Linux, Unix, or OS X/macOS system, you can determine if a command is present using the command which command where command is the relevant command in which you are interested. E.g., you can see that tcpdump, the venerable command line packet analyzer is available under the Linux subsystem. The vi and GNU nano text editors are also available to you on Windows now.

root@VANALLEN:~# which tcpdump
/usr/sbin/tcpdump
root@VANALLEN:~# which vi
/usr/bin/vi
root@VANALLEN:~# which namo
root@VANALLEN:~#

Note: if you are unfamiliar with Linux, unlike the Microsoft Windows operating system, commands are case-sensitive, e.g., while which is a command, WHICH is not.

root@VANALLEN:~# WHICH tcpdump
WHICH: command not found
root@VANALLEN:~#

Also you need to use forward slashes, i.e., "/", rather than backslashes, i.e., "\", in directory paths and, if you want to see files and directories on what is drive "C:" under Windows, you should look under /mnt/c.

root@VANALLEN:~# ls /
acct  boot   data  etc   init  lib64       media  opt   root  sbin  sys  usr
bin   cache  dev   home  lib   lost+found  mnt    proc  run   srv   tmp  var
root@VANALLEN:~# ls /mnt/c
ls: cannot access /mnt/c/hiberfil.sys: Permission denied
ls: cannot access /mnt/c/pagefile.sys: Permission denied
ls: cannot access /mnt/c/swapfile.sys: Permission denied
Allmyapps          inetpub                     $Recycle.Bin
AMD                Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10.0  RHDSetup.log
BigFishCache       MSOCache                    swapfile.sys
BigFishGamesCache  pagefile.sys                System Volume Information
BOOTNXT            PerfLogs                    Users
Config.Msi         ProgramData                 Windows
csb.log            Program Files               $Windows.~WS
ESD                Program Files (x86)
hiberfil.sys       Recovery
root@VANALLEN:~#

The ls command is the command commonly used on Unix and Unix-like operating systems, but, if you prefer you can use the dir command as you would under the Microsoft Windows operating system.

root@VANALLEN:~# dir /mnt/c
Allmyapps          inetpub                        $Recycle.Bin
AMD                Kaspersky\ Rescue\ Disk\ 10.0  RHDSetup.log
BigFishCache       MSOCache                       swapfile.sys
BigFishGamesCache  pagefile.sys                   System\ Volume\ Information
BOOTNXT            PerfLogs                       Users
Config.Msi         ProgramData                    Windows
csb.log            Program\ Files                 $Windows.~WS
ESD                Program\ Files\ (x86)
hiberfil.sys       Recovery
root@VANALLEN:~#

Note: you will see spaces in directory names preceded by a backslash. If you want to see the files in a directory and there is a space in the directory name, remember to precede any space in the name with a backslash or, alternatively, put the directory path within double quotes.

root@VANALLEN:~# dir /mnt/c/Program\ Files
ATI                     Realtek
Bonjour                 Reference\ Assemblies
CanonBJ                 Scripts
Common\ Files           Uninstall\ Information
desktop.ini             Utiities
DIFX                    Utilities
DVD\ Maker              WindowsApps
GIGABYTE                Windows\ Defender
Graphics                Windows\ Defender\ Advanced\ Threat\ Protection
InfraRecorder           Windows\ Mail
Internet\ Explorer      Windows\ Media\ Player
iPod                    Windows\ Multimedia\ Platform
iTunes                  Windows\ NT
Microsoft\ Games        Windows\ Photo\ Viewer
Microsoft\ Office       Windows\ Portable\ Devices
Microsoft\ Silverlight  WindowsPowerShell
MSBuild                 Windows\ Sidebar
Network                 WinRAR
root@VANALLEN:~# dir "/mnt/c/Program Files"
ATI                     Realtek
Bonjour                 Reference\ Assemblies
CanonBJ                 Scripts
Common\ Files           Uninstall\ Information
desktop.ini             Utiities
DIFX                    Utilities
DVD\ Maker              WindowsApps
GIGABYTE                Windows\ Defender
Graphics                Windows\ Defender\ Advanced\ Threat\ Protection
InfraRecorder           Windows\ Mail
Internet\ Explorer      Windows\ Media\ Player
iPod                    Windows\ Multimedia\ Platform
iTunes                  Windows\ NT
Microsoft\ Games        Windows\ Photo\ Viewer
Microsoft\ Office       Windows\ Portable\ Devices
Microsoft\ Silverlight  WindowsPowerShell
MSBuild                 Windows\ Sidebar
Network                 WinRAR
root@VANALLEN:~#

If you are familiar with Bash shell scripting, you can create Bash scripts and run them from the Bash shell prompt you now have available to you. If you aren't familiar with Bash scripts, they are similar to Windows batch files.

Note: some Bash commands may not produce the results you expect, e.g., the netstat command issued from a Bash shell prompt in an Ubuntu on Windows window won't show you all of the network ports on which Windows is listening, so issuing that command at the Bash shell prompt won't produce the same results as when you issue it at a Windows command prompt.

root@VANALLEN:~# netstat -a
Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State
Active UNIX domain sockets (servers and established)
Proto RefCnt Flags       Type       State         I-Node   Path
root@VANALLEN:~#

You can close the Ubuntu on Windows Bash shell window by tying exit or you can close it as you would any other window under Windows by clicking on the "X" at the upper, right-hand corner of the window.