Can I use Linux Commands on Windows? (5 Best Ways)

Linux Commands are instructions or codes used to interact with computer systems. You can now use these commands on Windows computers as well. Popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, and openSUSE can be found in the Windows Store and easily be downloaded and installed like any other Windows application.

Once installed, users can run any Linux command they wish to use. This is an excellent way for Windows users to access powerful programming options without switching operating systems entirely. This allows beginner and advanced users to take advantage of powerful Linux commands on their windows computers.

Can I use Linux Commands on Windows

Can I use Linux Commands on Windows?

The short answer to the question of whether one can use Linux commands on Windows is yes. While not, by default, built into Windows Operating Systems, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) provides users with a Linux-compatible environment that supports many of the same command line utilities available in traditional Linux distributions.

Using PowerShell

PowerShell is a scripting language built into a modern version of Windows OS, which can be used to execute some of the basic commands that would be used in a typical Linux environment. The native Windows commands are usually prefixed with Invoke-Expression, but users can create small scripts and aliases to mimic these commands.

For example, Invoke-Expression with the command “pwd” will return the current directory the user is in, just like one would find in a Linux terminal.

To access the Linux commands within PowerShell, users must first install the “Linux Subsystem for Windows” feature, which can be done through a few simple steps in the Control Panel.

Once this has been enabled, simply type “bash” into PowerShell to launch the Bash shell and begin using Linux commands as if you were on a Linux system.

Installing Cygwin

Cygwin is a third-party application that provides users with an environment similar to a Linux terminal. It supports most common Unix and Linux commands and utilities such as sed, awk, ls, and many more.

Despite its Debian-based roots, it is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems from XP onwards. It also provides a package installer that can easily grab and install additional packages from its repository.

Once installed, users can open up a Cygwin terminal window and access a range of GNU and other open-source commands as if they were using a Linux system.

Using Ubuntu Bash Shell

The Ubuntu Bash Shell is an application available for download from the Microsoft Store on modern Windows 10. It provides users with a Ubuntu-based command line environment with access to many of the same utilities found in traditional Ubuntu-based distributions.

This application can be used to write shell scripts and perform various system tasks, just like in a traditional Linux environment.

To enable the Ubuntu Bash shell, users have to first turn on the feature in the “Turn Windows features on or off” window available within the Control Panel.

Then, scribe “bash” into the command prompt and follow the instructions to install and set up Bash. Once complete, users can access over 500 Linux command-line tools packaged with Bash.

Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux – WSL

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a set of utilities for running Linux commands on Windows operating systems. It is a feature built into Windows 10 that allows users to install and run a complete Linux environment directly from the Windows desktop.

WSL allows it to run Linux applications from within Windows and execute Linux commands from the Windows Command Prompt or PowerShell.

It allows users to access familiar Unix-like commands and run native applications compiled for the Linux platform. It also includes many popular distributions of Linux, such as Ubuntu or Fedora, which can be downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Store.

Using Virtual Machines

Users can also use virtual machines to run full versions of traditional Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu or Fedora inside their existing version of Windows OS.

This requires downloading and installing a virtualization application such as VMWare or VirtualBox and a version of the desired distribution from its respective developers’ websites.

Virtual machines allow complete control over the environment and access to all its associated utilities and applications. Despite its benefits, this method can also be more resource intensive than other methods listed above, so it may not be ideal for all users depending on their hardware capabilities.

Benefits of using Linux Commands on Windows

Here are the advantages of using Linux on Windows:

  • Increased Flexibility: Windows users can use Linux commands on Windows to access a wide range of features and programs usually associated with Linux systems. This can provide extra flexibility when working with different operating systems or tasks.
  • Enhanced Security: Linux commands on Windows offer enhanced security protections, as they generally operate with fewer privileges than those needed to operate Windows applications. This makes it harder for malicious actors to access sensitive data or manipulate the system.
  • Improved Performance: Linux commands are often more efficient than their Windows counterparts, leading to faster performance and fewer system resources used. This can improve the overall speed and responsiveness of the system, as well as reduce energy consumption.
  • Enhanced Productivity: By having access to command-line tools on Windows, users can quickly and easily run tasks from the command line without having to switch between different operating systems. This can help boost productivity and save time.
  • Reduced Cost: Windows users can save money by using Linux commands on Windows, as there is no need to purchase additional software or hardware for these tasks. Additionally, this setup can provide an alternative to buying an entirely new computer running a Linux-based operating system.
  • Easier learning curve: Learning Linux commands is simpler than learning Windows commands because the syntax and structure of Linux commands are more consistent. This makes it easier to become familiar with the system’s functions and get started quicker.
  • Compatibility: Linux commands can run on Windows with the introduction of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This layer enables Linux binaries to run on Windows OS with no modifications. This allows developers and users to move to Windows OS while still being able to execute their commands exactly as they would on a Linux machine.

Linux commands Vs Windows commands

Description Linux Command Windows Command
Directory listing ls -l dir
Rename a file mv ren
Clear Screen   clear cls
Delete file rm del
Search for a string in a file grep find
Returns your current directory location pwd chdir
To create a new directory/folder mkdir md
To format a drive/partition. mke2fs or mformat format
To list running tasks. ps x tasklist
To list directory recursively. ls -R tree
To print contents of a file. cat type
To change file permissions. chown/chmod attrib
To set environment variables. export var=value set var=value
To kill a task. kill taskkill
To display free space. mem free

Other Windows Tips:


It is possible to use most Linux commands on Windows 10 via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and other tools like Cygwin. This can benefit developers and system administrators who need to use both Linux and Windows operating systems.

In addition, WSL provides numerous advantages, such as interoperability between Linux and Windows, seamless integration, and access to powerful tools from both worlds.

Thus, it is possible to use Linux commands on Windows with the help of powerful tools that allow the user to bridge the gap between the two OSes.

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