A Decent Console for Windows

On *nix we’re kind of spoilt when it comes to the CLI experience.
The console I use most in a GUI environment is the great terminator.

terminator

No, not that one.
This one

terminator

Multi tab, split screen, transparency, the works.
Then we’ve also got tmux (and a comparison between terminator and tmux).
Taking things further, we’ve got awesome

Well I’ve been looking for something similar for Windows for a while.
I’ve tried terminator on Cygwin, but it’s just not the same, plus it only supports the single shell.

Meet Console2

Console2 PS

With PowerShell as the currently active tab.
It’s a stand alone executable and crucially it’s free.
Console2 is just that, a console or terminal that seems to be able to host any shell that’s thrown at it.
As you can see with the image above, I’ve setup Console2 to host the following shells:

  1. Windows Command shell
  2. The Visual Studio Command Prompt (which is just the Windows Command shell (with some paths and variables added?))
  3. PowerShell
  4. The node.js Read-Eval-Print-Loop (REPL)
  5. VMwares vSphere PowerCLI
  6. And of course the bash shell we all know and love.
    Cygwin required

Although project activity looks minimal to non existent currently.

How I setup Console2

Once running, right click the console -> Edit -> Settings…

  • Setup the hot keys under the Hotkeys node to behave like the terminal I use on Linux (currently terminator).
    • Select the specific command, put your cursor in the Hotkey text box, press your preferred key combination, press the Assign key.
    • For opening new tabs I use Ctrl+Shift+T
    • Change the Copy selection node to what it should be: Ctrl+C
    • Change the Past to what it should be: Ctrl+V
  • Under the Console node, enter the directory to have each shell start in
  • Under the Appearance/More… node, I deselect the Show menu, Show toolbar and Show status bar
    • I make sure the Window transparency is set to None, as it just distracts me being able to see stuff behind the surface I’m concentrating on.
      It looks cool to turn it on, but I personally find it harder to read the text when you’ve got to lots of text overlapping
    • Under the Behavior node, I turn on Copy on select, as this is on in Linux by default
  • Now under the Tabs node is where we set up all of our shells.
    • Click the Add button
    • Change the name you want the shell tab to appear as in the Main tab under the Title text box
    • Now for the Icons I just got images I wanted for them and opened them in GIMP and changed the size to 32×32 pixels and saved as .ico files to the same directory that the Console.exe runs from
    • I Then select them here
    • Under the Shell section I just copy the short cuts from the likes of the start menu and past them in there
    • You can then override the default startup dir by specifying your path in the Startup dir text box
    • You can also specify if you want the shell to run as a specific user. Administrator for example.
      When you run this shell, you’ll be prompted for the users credentials if it’s not you.

As I was working through the Console2 set up, I ran into another offering…

Meet ConEmu

The actively maintained ConEmu lives here.
I had a quick play with this and a flick through the documentation.
The simple tasks of setting up different shells as pre-sets seemed to evade me.
There seems to be a lot more configuration options too.
As I’d just set up the Console2 and it seemed to be doing everything I needed for now, I decided to call it quits with ConEmu.
I think it’s worth checking out though if you need more power than Console2.
Scott Hanselmans post on Conemu.

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4 Responses to “A Decent Console for Windows”

  1. raystorm1 Says:

    Can I throw putty at console2, or some other SSH terminal? This sounds incredibly useful for work, but I don’t think they’d let me install Cygwin.

  2. How to Increase Software Developer Productivity | Binarymist Says:

    […] Improving the CLI experience […]

  3. Up and Running with Kali Linux and Friends | Binarymist Says:

    […] you live at the command line, you owe it to yourself to get the best console you can find. So far terminator still fits this bill for […]

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