Introduction to the Command Line

Using the Command Line

Lifehacker provides a pretty good introduction to the command line aimed at Linux and OS X users. If you’re not very familiar with the command line, I recommend giving it a look. If you’re on Windows, don’t worry. Though you may be less reliant in general on the command line, you can have a full Unix-like environment or just get a lot of these same helpful tools. See the next section.

Windows Users

Many people advise installing and using Cygwin on Windows. Cygwin is a linux-like shell environment for Windows. If you want a full bash shell, then this is the way to go. The Lifehacker post above has a series on Cygwin, if you’re interested in this. Installing and using Cygwin does, however, add a layer of abstraction that may be daunting for Windows users. If you don’t want a full Linux-like environment but aren’t content to live with Windows’ crippled cmd.exe Command Prompt, I suggest that you augment the command prompt with GnuWin. GnuWin ports a lot of the powerful, tried and true open source tools to Windows. You will be able to use things like ls, tar, wget, and grep from the usual command prompt. A full list of what’s available is here.