An awesome command line tool for Windows you might have never heard of

gnome-terminalDeveloping on Windows has always been a challenge when it comes to the command line.  I know powershell can do a lot, but I honestly can’t be bothered with it, especially considering I don’t work with .NET, and the regular cmd line is lacking in features to say the least.

In my quest to find a decent alternative that is not full blown cygwin, deep within the bowels of Stack Overflow I found a link to a website called MobaXterm. Pretty crummy name , but I liked the features list, it has a tiny cygwin wrapper (16.5 MB instead of 2GB +) and it was free. Maybe it could do what I’ve been looking for in terms of terminal emulation, specifically features like:

  • Easy copy/paste and the ability to use a mouse.
  • Multiple tabs
  • A decent SSH client with key support, password management, keep alive, reconnect, etc.
  • Ability to run native  Linux commands, especially ones for dev like grep, find, rsync, dig, host, nslookup , curl, etc.
  • Fast loading/operation

Well after a few minutes of poking around I was truly impressed, not only did it have the above features I was looking for, but a lot more, to rundown a few of them:

  • Customizable terminal display for colors/fonts (the icons are a bit old school but they can be minimized)
  • The terminal window has a scrollbar that works, and full screen mode
  • Build in SFTP window which follows terminal and it supports drag and drop ( this is truly a godsend).
  • SSH Sessions management and bookmarks ( it was smart enough to grab my PuTTy configs)
  • Telnet, RSH, RDP, VNC, FTP, Serial, Xdmcp,  File and Terminal Shell support (and more)
  • Macros, Keybinds and Bash
  • A bunch of bells and whistles ( right click opens dir in terminal,  right click SFTP, split mode, ascii table, Mathomatic, etc)

Granted I have not put this tool through all of the paces since it’s only been a week or so, and I mainly use it for SSH, but having an SSH client with an integrated SFTP window is just incredibly efficient. I should note is also comes with  a complete XServer (X11) and a slew of remote options including a port forwarding SSH/tunneling tool, and the ability to quickly launch some light daemons (TFTP, HTTP, FTP, SSH/SFTP, TELNET).

I’m finding I can already do a lot more with MobaXterm open, as opposed to juggling multiple pieces of software and constantly having to click inside windows. The terminal also has the ability to open urls and files, for example typing open somefile.js will open Sublime Text (my default editor).

Screens of the Dark Neon theme:

SFTP windows on the left following terminal on the right. The SFTP window supports drag and drop and several right click options.

sftp

Using dig on Windows

dig

Saved session on left and a build in Ascii table open in a tab

ascii-table

Capture live network packets

live-tcp

SSH Tunnel has a nice GUI

SSH Tunnel has a nice GUI

Lynx!

Lynx!


I included a screenshot of Lynx because I find it to be a great tool to visualize text content on sites, in other words… through the eyes of a bot. MobaXterm comes with a whole slew of plugins like Lynx, Vim, etc:  http://mobaxterm.mobatek.net/plugins.html

It’s not a true terminal emulator,  it’s basically a slimmed down version of cygwin + PuTTY  in a single executable, for the features it has though, it does a great job and required zero configuration.

ps. I am in no way affiliated with this company or software.

An important trick I learned a few days after using it, how to find  your bin folder (for bash scripts):

echo "/bin PATH = $(cygpath -w /bin)"
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