Notes for Windows users

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Windows is not a UNIX or UNIX-like operating system, so there are extra steps to interfacing a Windows computer with our servers.

You have a few options for software to enable this kind of connection.

WSL

The preferred option is to install Ubuntu subsystem for Windows on Windows 10. Since this is Windows 10-only, we encourage students who want to use Windows to run Windows 10 rather than an earlier version. Here are the instructions:

  1. Click Start and search for Developer mode. Click the first option ("Use developer features") and check enable developer mode.
  2. NOTE: It will ask you to restart your computer during this step, so be sure to save your work first. Run the Windows PowerShell in admin mode (right-click Start and select the option). Then copy the following and paste it in and hit Enter:

    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

    Type 'Y' and press Enter when it asks you to restart.
  3. Go to Microsoft Store and install Ubuntu (just plain Ubuntu).
    1. When you enter your password, it will not show asterisks or dots. It will appear that you are not typing. In fact, you are. Enter your password carefully (twice) and it will behave as expected.
    2. When you see USERNAME@DESKTOP-RANDOMNUMBERSANDLETTERS, you're done.
    3. To enable copy and paste via Ctrl+Shift+V

Some quirks of interfacing Windows with Linux:

  • It's common for a Linux operating system to appear to mount the main Windows filesystem under /drives, usually /drives/c/.
  • Within /drives/c, directories and filenames observe such Windows conventions as capitalizing (e.g.) "Users" and "Documents".
  • If you're in a Linux environment, the Windows "\" becomes a Linux "/".

Alternatives

MobaXterm and Putty are other options.

Windows now includes OpenSSH installed by default, so you can just use Command Prompt or PowerShell and run the same commands to connect to our servers as Unix users.

(Keyword spam: PC, shell, WSL)

X applications on Windows

You may only need X forwarding, not a full local Linux command line. If that's you, see our page about X apps for this setup.