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I'm developer who was "born and bred" on Linux and BSD systems, and I've become accustomed to having advanced tools for the console (posix shells like bash, for example). My career has taken a twist that means I'm working in a Windows environment most of the time, and the console capabilities are really poor by comparison. The traditional windows console environment is a complete joke, and even most of the third party attempts at improving things aren't a lot better. PowerShell is a huge step in the right direction, but the console applications themselves are still way behind where unix has been for 20 years.

Does anyone know of a PowerShell console application that supports advanced command line editing like posix shells do? I'm particularly interested in emacs-mode editing, and I'd also like to be able to resize my window to an arbirary size, unlike the native console app that comes with Windows.

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4 Answers

Not exactly what you're asking for, but have you considered Cygwin? You'll feel right at home.

You can also run PowerShell as a shell within emacs.

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+1 I would also recommend cygwin for this person, since unix is what they are familiar with already. Also Ben, you can adjust the properties of the cmd shell to be (almost) any size you want, but I agree it's not anything like resizing a terminal in *nix. –  DaveParillo Nov 6 '09 at 5:05
cygwin is definitely the way to go. You can even run X apps using it. –  JohnnyLambada Nov 6 '09 at 7:26
another option, if they want to go there, is the Subsystem for Unix Applications and the Interix tools. This gives things like Bash, Csh, Zsh, and other *nix tools without needing the emulation layer of Cygwin –  Jim Deville Nov 6 '09 at 7:58
Cygwin isn't really what I'm looking for because it's not native to Windows, and will therefore always be crippled in a way that prevents it from ever being on Windows was the shell is on *nix. PowerShell is really the way to go on Windows, but the problem is the hosting applications suck (I mean really: didn't Xerox solve the window resizing problem like 30 years ago?). –  Ben Collins May 16 '12 at 16:01
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It's not emacs, but vim has a console version.

Haven't used it on windows, so can't comment on its usability, though.

Vim (console version)

Apart from that, these make cmd a little more enjoyable.


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+1 for console2, can't live without it –  Ben Nov 6 '09 at 10:25
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There is PowerGui.

My impression is that there are not many alternatives to the built-in PowerShell ISE.

With VBScript people used to write to me every other week with a new Editor, but with PowerShell - no offerings.

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You can dynamically adjust your window size by manipulating the $host.ui.rawui.WindowSize property.

Use a function like this in your profile

Function Set-WindowSize { 
Param([int]$x=$host.ui.rawui.windowsize.width, [int]$y=$host.ui.rawui.windowsize.heigth)

$size=New-Object System.Management.Automation.Host.Size($x,$y)

Then call the function:

Set-WindowSize 100 50

There's a lot you can do right from the console, for example, creating functions on the fly:

PS C:\> Function Try-Me {
>> write-host "Hello $env:username"
>> get-date
>> }
PS C:\> try-me
Hello Jeff

Monday, November 09, 2009 1:08:13 PM

PowerShell's cmdlets can also do so much more. What used to take a 20 line script can now be accomplished with a one line PowerShell expression. Finally, because PowerShell is an object-based shell, you'll get much more out of a scripting IDE like PrimalScript, than merely editing text in the console.

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Yes, this is all very interesting, but what I mean by "advanced editing" is the ability to edit my command line in place from the home row, including copy/paste, backreferences to history, etc. as supported in most terminals in POSIX systems. –  Ben Collins Jan 23 '10 at 20:50
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