Linux and PowerShell CLI in WSL: Short Guide

Useful Commands and TipsJanuary 10, 2024

Linux vs Windows PS Commands

In my instructions, when you see PS C:\Users\yourwindowsname>, that is a Powershell prompt for your user. Any text after the > is what you should enter. If the user prompt is missing from the instructions, you are using the last one that was explicitly shown. This makes it easier to copy and paste.

The last char in a Powershell prompt is a greater than sign: >. The last char in a linux shell prompt is a dollar sign $.

A short list of Linux comands:

  • <anycommand> --help will generally show helpful instructions. If you see <xyz>, that entire string is a place holder for an actual word, for example ls --help.
  • ls (list) list files and directories (folders are called directories in Linux land). ls -a will show any hidden files and directories, like ones starting with a ..
  • cd (change directory), cd .. backs up a level.
  • cat followed by a filepath, will show the contents of a text file.
  • clear deletes any text on your terminal screen.

Linux Hint: If you are prompted to commit or continue, [Y]n, or similar, means pressing enter will be “yes”.

You will use sudo. It is explained in my WSL Linux blog post. TLDR: sudo tells Linux that you are pretending to be the Linux administrator. It is required to do dangerous things and just makes you verify your password.

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By Ed Pike
Full Stack, DevOps, Tech Educator, Science Enthusiast.