Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

This is a quick intro to – and some personal notes on working with – Bash in Windows 10 (Anniversary Update or Insider build requred). This will be updated on a sporadic basis.

Information on Bash

What is Bash on Ubuntu on Windows?

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows is part of the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” (WSL). Read more over at the WSL MSDN page. This page also covers installation guide, command reference, account permissions, interoperability, FAQ and release notes.

WSL developments and news

Recent (October, 2016) noteworthy news:

Official Ubuntu 16.04 support. Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial) is installed for all new Bash on Ubuntu on Windows instances starting in build 14951. This replaces Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty). Existing user instances will not be upgraded automatically. Users on the Windows Insider program can upgrade manually from 14.04 to 16.04 using the do-release-upgrade command.

Windows / WSL interoperability. Users can now launch Windows binaries directly from a WSL command prompt. This is the number one request from our users on the WSL User Voice page. Some examples include:

export PATH=$PATH:/mnt/c/Windows/System32
ipconfig.exe | grep IPv4 | cut -d: -f2
ls -la | findstr.exe foo.txt
cmd.exe /c dir

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Using Bash

Enter bash

You can run bash in a terminal window to enter the Linux subsystem. Or you can launch the “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” application from the start menu.

Using sensible colors

I don’t know if I’m not oldtimer enough, but the default colors sceheme in bash is simply hideous and quite painful to look at.

Here’s one guy’s solution to this problem. I’ll update this page with whatever solution I find the best suitable.

Issues I’ve come across

In short, interoperability (except launching applications) between WSL/Windows doesn’t seem to work:

However, it’s fine to modify files stored in your Windows filesystem from within bash. So if you were in /mnt/c/dev/project and launched code.exe ./, Visual Code would open the current folder.

Managing the WSL installation

Re-install the Linux subsystem

From cmd.exe with Administrator privileges:

# Uninstall
lxrun /uninstall /full

# Reinstall
lxrun /install.

Update Ubuntu

This equals an apt update && apt dist-upgrade -y:

lxrun /update

Set default user

lxrun /setdefaultuser <userName>

Which version of Ubuntu am I running?

$ lsb_release -a

No LSB modules are available
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
Release:        16.04
Codename:       xenial

Access WSL from Windows (read-only access)

C:\Users\<windows_username>\AppData\Local\lxss\home\<linux_username>  # user home
C:\Users\<windows_username>\AppData\Local\lxss\rootfs  # root

Access Windows from WSL (write access)


Run bash command from cmd.exe

Runs the command, prints the output and exits back to the Windows command prompt.

bash -c "<command>"

Python development

Install pip: `apt-get install python-pip`