Goin’ back to Windows: multiple terminal windows with ConEmu

This is part of a series on moving from desktop Linux back to Windows.

The first post is here. The previous post is here.

Back when I was a full-time software developer, working on a Windows machine, I rarely needed cmd. I’d write batch files, sure, but I could launch those with Launchy or AutoHotKey or a toolbar mouse click.  Having a cmd window open all day just wasn’t a thing, for me. The only thing I might need a shell for was subversion or git, but most likely I used file system integration (i.e. point/click… boo, I know) or whatever IDE I was using at the time.

When I switched to Mac, and eventually Linux, having a shell running all day long was just how things worked. Right now, on my work laptop (MacBook Pro), I have half a dozen+ iTerm2 tabs open.

When you have a powerfull shell, you use it, a lot.

Multiple terminals on Windows

WSL made a powerful Linux shell on Windows a reality. But as of this writing, opening an Ubuntu bash shell only supports a single window. Sure, you can open multiple, separate shells, but that’s like web browsing pre-tab-browser. No thanks.

ConEmu makes it as simple as iTerm2 or Terminal to have multiple shells on Windows. It’s even easy to have multiple different terminals within a single ConEmu window. In my experience, the combination of WSL, supplemented with ConEmu, has made Windows finally stopped feeling like a second-class citizen development environment.

Check it out:

Just like Terminal (Linux) or iTerm2 (Mac), you can use the keyboard to create new tabs, cycle through tabs, and the like. apt install tmux and you can tmux, too.

ConEmu is highly customizable, though I tend to keep things default and just add keyboard shortcuts. My current setup is that an Ubuntu bash shell is the default shell, activated by the default win-w, and I’ve assigned win-p to Powershell. Here’s how to do that:

Since I’ve moved back to Windows, the combination of WSL for a Linux experience, and ConEmu for managing multiple terminal windows, has been a delight.

If you use Chocolatey, install it with choco install conemu, and off you go. Otherwise, download it at https://conemu.github.io/

Next post: Docker on Windows!

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