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What would be the best way to get the full-blown Unix/Linux bash inside Windows?

I don't mean the Virtual Machine, but rather only the terminal with mounted NTFS drives.

This way I could use the power of Unix/Linux still being on Windows.

The things I want to be able to do from the terminal:

  • Package management (apt-get in Debian).
  • SSH.
  • File operations (including grub and similar).
  • Run a web server (Apache, nginx) for testing purposes.
  • Easy to use: start terminal - Linux is on, end terminal - Linux is shut down.
  • Would be nice to be able to copy-paste from Windows into Terminal and vice versa.

This really feels like a separate OS and I realize that VM would, probably, be the best thing. But I guess it should be possible to have a lighter installation.

THE NOTE: I cannot just use Linux because of I still need to do development on Windows. Also I am a Linux noobie - just getting started with it so sorry if asking something obvious/stupid.

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migrated from Mar 8 '10 at 22:56

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I would argue that if you are a "Linux noobie", it would be better to go completely to linix if even for only a couple weeks. This will force you to learn. Then if you want to you can return to the dark side. +1 good question though. – sixtyfootersdude Mar 26 '10 at 21:07
up vote 13 down vote accepted

cygwin does everything you're looking for.

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Well, it does everything you're looking for ~sort of~. It does not replace the real thing imo, but it's definitely the closest you get on Windows (unless you are willing to virtualize). – ChristopheD Mar 8 '10 at 22:53
except apt-get -- cygwin has its own package system – Ben Voigt Mar 8 '10 at 22:54
Does cygwin handle file management on its own virtual partition? Or does it handle it on Window's partitions? – Malabarba Dec 17 '10 at 15:29
@Bruce, cygwin shares all of the windows disks. – Carl Norum Dec 17 '10 at 16:24

If you want lighter than a VM but more faithful behavior than cygwin, there's colinux.

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From the homepage ~~In its current condition, it allows us to run the KNOPPIX Japanese Edition on Windows~~ Which is nice if you speak Japanese :) Or have i misread that statement? – ChristopheD Mar 8 '10 at 22:56
You can run any distribution you like. I used it for a dual-boot installation of gentoo years ago, colinux is much more mature now. The only reason I don't use it anymore is lack of 64-bit support. – Ben Voigt Mar 14 '10 at 21:20

If what concerns you most is the bash scripting functionality, then there is also Windows PowerShell.

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not even close .. – hasen Mar 9 '10 at 6:10

I wonder what exactly you mean by a 'lighter' installation. Really, if you used a hypervisor for your VMs, like ESXi on a modern machine with the VT-x (intel) or AMD-V (AMD) you will have close to native speed. Either way you go, cygwin or virtualization, is a compromise. Cygwin might be a bit easier, though it is a port of the bash shell and some utilities, and thus not nearly as powerful as a full linux install in a VM. Also picking the right linux distro would be important for your particular situation.

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You could use cygwin and expose all it's commands (or programs) directory to windows %path% and in this way you could access all it's commands using windows cmd.exe. I did this, in my production machine and nothing crazy or bad happened except if the commands are in conflict (windows & linux eg. cd) and it will go for windows one.

It's way better since you can start using the popd/pushd commands which i never really effectively used the windows ones.

Plus if you really want to go deeper with ssh/sftp, package managements and more (but not it's own partition i'm sure) you could use MobaXterm. It's a program that has way many features you want to use in windows.

To have your own linux partitions from mobaXterm, well you could boot to your linux virtual machine and sftp/ftp from MobaXterm and it works as expected.

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