How to Enable the Linux Bash Shell in Windows 10

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Linux geeks rejoice. As of build number 14328, Windows 10 allows you to run a special flavor of the Bash shell (on Ubuntu) in a window. Using Bash, you can navigate around the file system, install and run Linux command line apps like the vi text editor or, with some unofficial tweaks, try to load windowed programs. However, before you can use Bash in Windows 10, you have to turn it on. Here's how.

1. Navigate to Settings. You can get there by clicking the gear icon on the Start menu.

Click gear icon for settings

2. Click Update & security.

Select update & security

3. Select For Developers in the left column.

For developers

4. Select Developer Mode under "Use developer features" if it's not already enabled.

Use developer features

5. Navigate to the Control Panel (the old Windows control panel). You can get there by hitting Windows Key + X and selecting Control panel from the pop-up menu that appears.

select control panel

6. Select Programs and Features. If it's not visible, make sure you select "Large icons" from the "View by" menu.

select programs and features

7. Click "Turn Windows features on or off."

Turn windows features on or off

8. Toggle "Windows Subsystem for Linux" to on and click Ok.

Toggle Windows Subsystem for Linux to On

9. Click the Restart Now button.

click restart now

10. Search for Bash in the Cortana / Search box and click its icon.

bash shell

11. Type "y" and hit Enter when promoted to install Ubuntu. The system will then take a few minutes to install Ubuntu in the command prompt window.

type y

12. Create a username and password.

Enter username and pwd

You can now use the Bash shell as if you were on a a computer with Ubuntu installed as its primary OS. There are a few command line apps built-in, including the vi and pico text editors, and you can add more by using the apt-get command. There's also a program which allows you to run windowed Ubuntu apps in Windows 10.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • debguy Says:

    let me continue to say: the drawback here is it (if i see correctly) makes it's own little world detached from win10 ... you could locate(1) files rapidly but not win10 files - only things inside it's little bubble. it's not like using microsoft compiler to compile an app that actually runs WITH windows, which many GNU apps infact can and do

  • debguy Says:

    This is an important new feature for people interested in GNU unix as opposed to linux kernel or 'nix distributions that use GNU but support only the linux kernel. ie, awk(1) and locate(1) are "just essential" to some people but dpkg yum ... not so much. Apple computer has freeBSD mode "always on", and no one is trying to delete Apple right? Right?

  • Charlie D Says:

    Worked just as instructed for me.



  • Stephen Boesch Says:

    Typical Windows BS. They dangle a carrot to Linux lovers. Then pull it away. Just as Brando said: This doesn't work.

  • Brando Says:

    This doesn't work. You're missing the part where you have to be a windows insider. My build is from July 2016 and does not have Windows Subsystem for Linux.

  • A Person Says:

    For me, everything worked fine up to the step where you search for bash in Cortana. Clicking on the 'bash' icon would just flash a command window for a second, which would disappear. In order to get it working, I had to first open CMD and disable the legacy console. After that, everything worked fine.

  • Consumer Says:

    Wow this is much, much more complex than it really should be. Hopefully it is a lot simpler in the future as it is finalized and loses the beta tag. Thanks so much for showing the steps nonetheless!

  • Shanbo Says:

    Does anybody know how to change the home directory of this subsystem?

  • Aoxomoxoa Says:

    Revised instructions to open bash on a Windows 10 system.

    1. Boot Linux DVD or Flash Drive into "Live" mode, or...
    2. (Optional) Repartition hard drive and install Linux over Windows 10.
    3. Open a Terminal.

  • kevin ard Says:

    I love how enabling bash highlights the difference between bash and windows: the same end, in the Linux world, would be
    Open the terminal. Type side enterm -f (or something like that) :D Windows is endless clicks and a restart lol

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