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The command line program included in Windows (Vista) isn't always up to snuff. Are there any good program I can download that I can use as a replacement?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 10 '10 at 22:58

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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Powershell is one choice as is Bash for Windows.

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I use powershell on windows 2k3 server as the goto console for pretty much everything I need to do. –  Scott Markwell Jan 14 '10 at 16:27
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If you're looking for Unix like command tools, then have a look at Cygwin.

If you're looking for another console, have a look at Console (although it's still marked beta, it's very usable and perfectly stable).

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Or gnuwin32 (gnuwin32.sourceforge.net) as a more lightweight (and the choice of ports is lesser) alternative to Cygwin. –  kastauyra Jan 10 '10 at 22:53
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UnxUtils provides most of the common *nix commandline utilities, compiled/ported to run natively under windows, without cygwin. "Setup" is as easy as extracting the zip somewhere, and pointing your PATH at it.

MSYS is another system, provides both a shell, a terminal, and many common utilities.

Generally I would recommend avoiding Cygwin unless you absolutely need it, it tends to be quite slow in my experience, due to the fact it has to emulate many functions that don't exist in windows. As compared to UnxUtils or MSYS, where they have actually ported the code to work under the available windows APIs.

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Console 2 is a replacement for the standard Windows command prompt:

Console is a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles

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I use Ch Standard Edition from SoftIntegration.

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I've used Take Command since the days it was called 4DOS. Originally, it was a replacement shell scripting language. They've since turned it into a multi-tabbed terminal, with IDE capabilities. I find that a little overkill. However, the original scripting language part is now released as freeware.

It's compatible with CMD (low learning curve), but most of the commands are enhanced in various ways. For example, here's the DEL command:

Erase one file, a group of files, or entire subdirectories.

DEL [/A:[[-][+]rhsdaecjot] /B /E /F /I"text" /K /N[defjst] /PQR /Sn /TWXYZ] file...
        /A:(ttribute select)    /Q(uiet)
        /B (del on reboot)      /R(ecycle bin)
        /E (no error messages)  /S(ubdirectories)
        /I (match descriptions) /T(otal)
        /F(orce)                /W(ipe)
        /K (no undelete)        /X (remove empty subdirectories)
        /N(othing)              /Y(es to all prompts)
        /P(rompt)               /Z(ap hidden and read-only files)


File Selection

Supports attribute switches, extended wildcards, ranges, multiple file names, and include lists. 
Use wildcards with caution on LFN volumes; see LFN File Searches for details.

A /N with one of the following arguments has an alternate meaning:

        d Skip hidden directories (when used with /S) 
        e Don't display errors 
        f Don't display the bytes freed in the summary 
        j Skip junctions (when used with /S) 
        s Don't display the summary 
        t Don't update the CD / CDD extended directory search database (JPSTREE.IDX) 

What I find really useful is the support for ranges (date, size, attribute) on all file commands, If, for example, I wanted to delete all files except C and C++ files in a subdirectory structure that are between 1024 and 2048 bytes, and were created between Feb 8th, 2006 and Feb 9th, 2009, this will do it:

del /[s1024,2048] /[d2006-2-8,2008-2-9] /[!*.C *.CPP] /S

To show all files less than a week old, excluding object files and directories:

dir /a-d /sf /[!*.obj] /[d-7] 

There are also several hundred built in functions and variables not in CMD.

Aliases, command line history, command editing, etc. are there as well.

Compared to BASH and Cygwin, it's very Windows-specific. Compared to PowerShell, it's a lot less verbose. And it works in Console, too.

BTW, Joe Internet, thanks for the link to CH. It looks very interesting.

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