Linux Tutorial - Shell Bash Commands from the Beginning with Examples

Linux Tutorial - Shell Bash Commands from the Beginning with Examples

Linux Tutorial - Shell Bash Commands from the Beginning with Examples. Learn BASH command interpreter explained step by step and with examples. Learn what Linux is and how the command interpreter fits into the operating system. Get and install Linux. Understand the structure and syntax of Linux commands. Learn to manage the elements of the filesystem: files and directories. Learn to install software from official servers or from any compatible file.

Linux Tutorial - Shell Bash Commands from the Beginning with Examples

Learn BASH command interpreter explained step by step and with examples.

In this course you will learn to use a command interpreter in Linux. I will teach you all the necessary concepts from the beginning and step by step, so you will have a good base on which to expand your skills with this powerful way of using an Operating System. Whether you are initiated in its use or if you have never seen it, you will take advantage of the explanations and exercises that I am going to teach you.

In the first topic I will explain what Linux is and how the command interpreter fits into the operating system. You will also see how to install it using a virtual machine so you can do all the practices and experiments you want without fear that your computer will suffer some damage.

In the second block you will learn to manage the elements of the filesystem: files and directories. You will understand how they are organized and you can move about the directory structure quickly and effectively. You will also learn how to create, change or delete both files and folders.

Like Linux in a multi-user system, in the third topic you will know how users, groups and permissions are organized.

Finally you will learn to install software from official servers or from any compatible file. You will hallucinate with the amount of free programs that you can enjoy in a few seconds.

Do not hesitate, take the course and lose your fear of the console mode, your computer skills will grow exponentially!

What you'll learn

  • 🐧 Get and install Linux
  • 🏼 Understand the structure and syntax of Linux commands
  • ❓Get quick help from any system command
  • 📂 Manage your files and folders quickly and effectively
  • 🛠 Use all the tools offered by the command interpreter to be more efficient using Linux
  • 💡Understand and manage concepts such as file system paths, both relative and abusive
  • 👨‍💻Create users and assign them permissions and passwords
  • 💿 Install and configure the large amount of free software offered by Linux
  • 🕸 Modify system repositories
  • *️⃣ Use wildcards and file system shortcuts
  • 💻 Know the information offered by the system prompt

Moving Your JavaScript Development To Bash On Windows

Moving Your JavaScript Development To Bash On Windows

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to set up a Windows/Linux development box for JavaScript development.

Originally published by Burke Holland at

Love your Bash terminal but also love your PC? Maybe you’ve had your eye on some of that new Surface hardware, but can’t make the switch without your terminal. Now you can have Windows and Bash. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to set up a Windows/Linux development box for JavaScript development.

I’m one of those people who can’t live without their Bash terminal. This sole fact has made it difficult for me to do frontend work on Windows. I work at Microsoft and I’m on a Mac. It wasn’t until the new Surface hardware line came out a few years ago that I realized: I gotta have one of those.

So I got one. A Surface Book 2 running Windows 10 to be exact. I’m drafting this article on it right now. And what of my sweet, sweet Bash prompt? Well, I brought it along with me, of course.

In this article, I’m going to take an in-depth look at how new technology in Windows 10 enables you to run a full Linux terminal on Windows. I’ll also show you my amazing terminal setup (which was named “best ever” by “me”) and how you too can set up your very own Windows/Linux development machine.

If you’ve been craving some of that Surface hardware but can’t live without a Linux terminal, you’ve come to the right place.

Note: At the time of this writing, a lot of the items in this article will require you to use or switch to “preview” or “insiders” builds of various items, including Windows. Most of these things will be in the main Windows build at some point in the future.

Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL)

The Windows Subsystem for Linux, or, “WSL” is what enables you to run Linux on Windows. But what exactly is this mad science?

The WSL, in its current incarnation, is a translation layer that converts Linux system calls into Windows system calls. Linux runs on top of the WSL. That means that in order to get Linux on Windows, you need to do three things:

  1. Enable the WSL,
  2. Install Linux,
  3. Always include three items in a list.

As it turns out, that translation layer is a tad on the slow side — kind of like me trying to remember if I need splice or slice. This is especially true when the WSL is reading and writing to the file system. That’s kind of a big problem for web developers since any proper npm install will copy thousands of files to your machine. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to left-pad my own strings.

Version 2 of the WSL is a different story. It is considerably faster than the current version because it leverages a virtualization core in Windows instead of using the translation layer. When I say it’s “considerably faster”, I mean way, way faster. Like as fast as me Googling “splice vs slice”.

For that reason, I’m going to show how to install the WSL 2. At the time of writing, that is going to require you to be on the “Insider” build of Windows.

First things first: follow this short guide to enable the WSL on Windows 10 and check your Windows version number.

Once you have it installed, hit the Windows key and type “windows insider”. Then choose “Windows Insider Program Settings”.

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You’ll have a couple of different options as to which “ring” you want to be on. A lot of people I know are on the fast ring. I’m a cautious guy, though. When I was a kid I would go down the slide at the playground on my stomach holding on to the sides. Which is why I stay on the slow ring. I’ve been on it for several months now, and I find it to be no more disruptive or unstable than regular Windows.

It’s a good option if you want the WSL 2, but you don’t want to die on the slide.

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Next, you need to enable the “Virtual Machine Platform” feature in Windows, which is required by the WSL version 2. To get to this screen, press the Windows key and type “windows features”. Then select “Turn Windows Features on or off”. Select “Virtual Machine Platform”. The “Windows Subsystem for Linux” option should already be enabled.

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Now that the WSL is enabled, you can install Linux. You do this, ironically enough, directly from the Windows Store. Only in 2019 would I suggest that you “install Linux from the Windows store”.

There are several different distributions to choose from, but Ubuntu is going to be the most supported across all the tools we’ll configure later on — including VS Code. All of the instructions that come from here on out with assume a Ubuntu install. If you install a different distro, all bets are off.

Search for “Ubuntu” from the Windows Store. There will be three to choose from: Ubuntu, Ubuntu 18.04, and Ubuntu 16.04. Ubuntu really likes that 04 minor version number, don’t they?

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The “Ubuntu” distro (the first one in this screenshot) is the “meta version”, or rather a placeholder that just points to the latest version. As of right now, that’s 18.04.

I went with the meta version because later on I’ll show you how to browse the Linux file system with Windows Explorer and it’s kinda messy to have “Ubuntu 18.04” as a drive name vs just “Ubuntu”.

This install is pretty quick depending on your internet connection. It’s only about 215 megabytes, but I am on a gigabit connection over here and how do you know if someone is on a gigabit connection? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

Once installed, you’ll now have an “Ubuntu” app in your start menu.

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If you click on that, you’ll get a Bash terminal!

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Take a moment to bask in the miracle of technology.

By default, you’ll be running in the WSL version 1. To upgrade to version 2, you’ll need to open a PowerShell terminal and run a command.

Hit the “Windows” key and type “Powershell”.

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From the PowerShell terminal, you can see which version of the WSL you have by executing wsl --list --versbose.

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If you’re showing version 1, you’ll need to execute the --set-version command and specify the name of the instance (Ubuntu) and the version you want (2).

wsl --set-version Ubuntu 2 

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This is going to take a bit, depending on how much meat your machine has. Mine took “some minutes” give or take. When it’s done, you’ll be on the latest and greatest version of the WSL.

The Is Your Brain On Linux… On Windows.

Linux is not Windows. WSL is not a bash prompt on top of a Windows operating system. It is a full operating system unto itself with its own folder structure and installed applications. If you install Node with the Windows installer, typing node in Linux is going to fail because Node is not installed in Linux. It’s installed on Windows.

The true magic of the WSL, though, lies in the way it seamlessly connects Windows and Linux so that they appear as one file system on your machine.

File And Folder Navigation

By default, the Ubuntu terminal drops you into your Linux home directory (or /home/your-user-name). You can move onto the Windows side by going to /mnt/c.

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Notice that some permissions are denied here. I would have to right-click the Ubuntu icon and click “Run as Administrator” to get access to these files. This how Windows does elevated permissions. There is no sudo on Windows.

Launching Applications

You can launch any Windows application from the Ubuntu terminal. For instance, I can open Windows Explorer from the Unbuntu terminal.

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This also works in reverse. You can execute any application installed on the Linux side. Here I am executing “fortune” installed in Linux from the Windows command line. (Because it ain’t a proper Linux install without random, meaningless fortunes.)

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Two different operating systems. Two different file systems. Two different sets of installed applications. See how this could get confusing?

In order to keep everything straight, I recommend that you keep all your JavaScript development files and tools installed on the Linux side of things. That said, the ability to move between Windows and Linux and access files from both systems is the core magic of the WSL. Don’t forget it, cause it’s what makes this whole setup better than just a standard Linux box.

Setting Up Your Development Environment

From here on out, I’m going to give you a list of opinionated items for what I think makes a killer Linux on Windows setup. Just remember: my opinions are just that. Opinions. It just happens that just like all my opinions, they are 100% correct.

Getting A Better Terminal

Yes, you got a terminal when you installed Ubuntu. It’s actually the Windows Console connected to your Linux distro. It’s not a bad console. You can resize it, turn on copy/paste (in settings). But you can’t do things like tabs or open new windows. Just like a lot of people use replacement terminal programs on Mac (I use Hyper), there are other options for Windows as well. The Awesome WSL list on Github contains a pretty exhaustive list.

Those are all fine emulators, but there is a new option that is built by people who know Windows pretty well.

Microsoft has been working on a new application called “Windows Terminal”.

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Windows Terminal can be installed from the Windows Store and is currently in preview mode. I’ve been using it for quite a while now, and it has enough features and is stable enough for me to give it a full-throated endorsement.

The new Windows Terminal features a full tab interface, copy/paste, multiple profiles, transparent backgrounds, background images — even transparent background images. It’s a field day if you like to customize your terminal, and I came to win this sack race.

Here is my current terminal. We’ll take a walk through some of the important tweaks here.

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Windows terminal is quite customizable. Clicking the “” arrow at the top left (next to the “+” sign) gives you access to “Settings”. This will open a JSON file.

Bind Copy/Paste

At the top of the file are all of the key bindings. The first thing that I did was map “copy” to Ctrl + C and paste to Ctrl + V. How else am I going to copy and paste in commands from Stack Overflow that I don’t understand?

  "command": "copy",
  "keys": ["ctrl+c"]
  "command": "paste",
  "keys": ["ctrl+v"]

The problem is that Ctrl + C is already mapped to SIGINT, or the Interrupt/kill command on Linux. There are a lot of terminals out there for Windows that handle this by mapping Copy/Paste to Ctrl + Shift + C and Ctrl + Shift + V respectively. The problem is that copy/paste is Ctrl + C / Ctrl + V every other single place in Windows. I just kept pressing Ctrl + C in the terminal over and over again trying to copy things. I could not stop doing it.

The Windows terminal handles this differently. If you have text highlighted and you press Ctrl + C, it will copy the text. If there is a running process, it still sends the SIGINT command down and interrupts it. The means that you can safely map Ctrl + C / Ctrl + V to Copy/Paste in the Windows Terminal and it won’t interfere with your ability to interrupt processes.

Whoever thought Copy/Paste could cause so much heartache?

Change The Default Profile

The default profile is what comes up when a new tab is opened. By default, that’s Powershell. You’ll want to scroll down and find the Linux profile. This is the one that opens wsl.exe -d Ubuntu. Copy its GUID and paste it into the defaultProfile setting.

I’ve moved these two settings so they are right next to each other to make it easier to see:

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Set The Background

I like my background to be a dark solid color with a flat-ish logo in the right-hand corner. I do this because I want the logo to be bright and visible, but not in the way of the text. This one I made myself, but there is a great collection of flat images to pick from at Simple Desktops.

The background is set with the backgroundImage property:

"backgroundImage": "c:/Users/YourUserName/Pictures/earth.png"

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You’ll also notice a setting called “acrylic”. This is what enables you to adjust the opacity of the background. If you have a solid background color, this is pretty straightforward.

"background": "#336699",
"useAcrylic": true,
"acrylicOpacity": 0.5

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You can pull this off with a background image as well, by combining the arcylicOpacity setting with the backgroundImageOpacity:

"backgroundImage": "c:/Users/username/Pictures/earth-and-stars.png",
"useAcrylic": true,
"acrylicOpacity": 0.5

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For my theme, transparency makes everything look muted, so I keep the useAcrylic set to false.

Change The Font

The team building the Windows Terminal is also working on a new font called “Cascadia Code”. It’s not available as of the time of this writing, so you get the default Windows font instead.

The default font in the Windows Terminal is “Consolas”. This is the same font that the Windows command line uses. If you want that true Ubuntu feel, Chris Hoffman points out how you can install the official Ubuntu Mono font.

Here’s a before and after so you can see the difference:

"fontFace": "Ubuntu Mono"

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They look pretty similar; the main difference being in the spacing of Ubuntu Mono which makes the terminal just a bit tighter and cleaner.

Color Schemes

The color schemes are all located at the bottom of the settings file. I copied the “Campbell” color scheme as a baseline. I try to match colors with their names, but I’m not afraid to go rogue either. I’ll map “#ffffff” to “blue” — I don’t even care.

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If you like this particular scheme which I’ve named “Earth”, I’ve put together this gist so you don’t have to manually copy all of this mess out of a screenshot.

Note: The color previews come by virtue of the “Color Highlight” extension for VS Code.

Change The Default Starting Directory

By default, the WSL profile drops you into your home directory on the Windows side. Based on the setup that I am recommending in this article, it would be preferable to be dropped into your Linux home folder instead. To do that, alter the startingDirectory setting in your “Ubuntu” profile:

"startingDirectory": "\\wsl$\Ubuntu\home\burkeholland"

Note the path there. You can use this path (minus the extra escape slashes) to access the WSL from the Windows command line.

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Install Zsh/Oh-My-Zsh

If you’ve never used Zsh and Oh-My-Zsh before, you’re in for a real treat. Zsh (or “Z Shell”) is a replacement shell for Linux. It expands on the basic capabilities of Bash, including implied directory switching (no need to type cd), better-theming support, better prompts, and much more.

To install Zsh, grab it with the apt package manager, which comes out of the box with your Linux install:

sudo apt install zsh

Install oh-my-zsh using curl. Oh-my-zsh is a set of configurations for zsh that improve the shell experience even further with plugins, themes and a myriad of keyboard shortcuts.

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"

Then it will ask you if you want to change your default shell to Zsh. You do, so answer in the affirmative and you are now up and running with Zsh and Oh-My-Zsh.

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You’ll notice that the prompt is a lot cleaner now. You can change the look of that prompt by changing the theme in the ~/.zshrc file.

Open it with nano, which is kind of like VIM, but you can edit things and exit when you need to.

nano ~/.zshrc

Change the line that sets the theme. There is a URL above it with an entire list of themes. I think the “cloud” one is nice. And cute.

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To get changes to the .zshrc picked up, you’ll need to source it:

source ~/.zshrc 

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Note: If you pick a theme like “agnoster” which requires glyphs, you’ll need a powerline infused version of Ubuntu Mono that has… glyphs. Otherwise, your terminal will just be full of weird characters like you mashed your face on the keyboard. Nerd Fonts offers one that seems to work pretty well.

Now you can do things like changing directories just by entering the directory name. No cd required. Wanna go back up a directory? Just do a ... You don’t even have to type the whole directory name, just type the first few letters and hit tab. Zsh will give you a list of all of the files/directories that match your search and you can tab through them.

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Installing Node

As a web developer, you’re probably going to want to install Node. I suppose you don’t have to install Node to do web development, but it sure feels like it in 2019!

Your first instinct might be to install node with apt, which you can do, but you would regret it for two reasons:

  1. The version of Node on apt is dolorously out of date;
  2. You should install Node with a version manager so that you don’t run into permissions issues.

The best way to solve both of these issues is to install nvm (Node Version Manager). Since you’ve installed zsh, you can just add the nvm plugin in your zshrc file and zsh takes care of the rest.

First, install the plugin by cloning in the zsh-nvm repo. (Don’t worry, Git comes standard on your Ubuntu install.)

git clone ~/.oh-my-zsh/custom/plugins/zsh-nvm

Then add it as a plugin in the ~/.zshrc file.

nano ~/.zshrc

plugins (zsh-nvm git)

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Remember to source the zshrc file again with source ~/.zshrc and you’ll see nvm being installed.

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Now you can install node with nvm. It makes it easy to install multiple side-by-side versions of node, and switch between them effortlessly. Also, no permissions errors when you do global npm installs!

nvm install --lts

I recommend this over the standard nvm install because the plugin gives you the ability to easily upgrade nvm. This is kind of a pain with the standard “curl” install. It’s one command with the plugin.

nvm upgrade

Utilize Auto Suggestions

One of my very favorite plugins for zsh is zsh-autosuggestions. It remembers things you have typed in the terminal before, and then recognizes them when you start to type them again as well as “auto-suggests” the line you might need. This plugin has come in handy more times than I can remember — specifically when it comes to long CLI commands that I have used in the past, but can’t ever remember.

Clone the repo into the zsh extensions folder:

git clone ~/.oh-my-zsh/custom/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions

Then add it to your zsh plugins and source the zshrc file:

nano ~/.zshrc

In the .zshrc file

plugins(zsh-nvm zsh-autosuggestions git)

source ~/.zshrc

The plugin reads your zsh history, so start typing some command you’ve typed before and watch the magic. Try typing the first part of that long clone command above.

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If you hit ↹, it will autocomplete the command. If you keep hitting ↹, it will cycle through any of the commands in your history that could be a match.

Important Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a few terminal shortcuts that I use all the time. I find this with all of my tools — including VS Code. Trying to learn all the shortcuts is a waste of time because you won’t use them enough to remember them.

Here are a few that I use regularly:

That’s it! Everything else I’ve probably learned and then forgotten because it never gets any use.

Configuring Git(Hub/Lab/Whatevs)

Git comes on Ubuntu, so there is no install required. You can follow the instructions at your source control hoster of choice to get your ssh keys created and working.

Note that in the Github instructions, it tells you to use the “copy” utility to copy your ssh key. Ubuntu has the “xcopy” command, but it’s not going to work here because there is no interop between the Linux and Windows in terms of a clipboard.

Instead, you can just use the Windows Clipboard executable and call it directly from the terminal. You need to get the text first with cat, and then pipe that to the Windows clipboard.

cat ~/.ssh/ | clip.exe

The Github docs tell you to make sure that the ssh-agent is running. It’s not. You’ll see this when you try and add your key to the agent:

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You can start the agent, but the next time you reboot Windows or the WSL is stopped, you’ll have to start it again. This is because there is no initialization system in the WSL. There is no systemd or another process that starts all of your services when the WSL starts. WSL is still in preview, and the team is working on a solution for this.

In the meantime, believe it or not, there’s a zsh plugin for this, too. It’s called ssh-agent, and it comes installed with oh-my-zsh, so all you need to do is reference it in the .zshrc file.

zsh-nvm zsh-autosuggestions ssh-agent git

This will start the ssh-agent automatically if it’s not running the first time that you fire up the WSL. The downside is that it’s going to ask you for your passphrase every time WSL is started fresh. That means essentially anytime you reboot your computer.

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VS Code And The WSL

The WSL has no GUI, so you can’t install a visual tool like VS Code. That needs to be installed on the Windows side. This presents a problem because you have a program running on the Windows side accessing files on the Linux side, and this can result in all manor of quirks and “permission denied” issues. As a general rule of thumb, Microsoft recommends that you not alter files in the WSL side with Windows programs.

To resolve this, there is an extension for VS Code called “Remote WSL”. This extension is made by Microsoft, and allows you to develop within the WSL, but from inside of VS Code.

Once the extension is installed, you can attach VS Code directly to the Ubuntu side by opening the Command Palette (Ctrl + Shift + P) and select “Remote-WSL: New Window”.

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This opens a new instance of VS Code that allows you to work as if you were fully on the Linux side of things. Doing “File/Open” browses the Ubuntu file system instead of the Windows one.

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The integrated terminal in VS Code opens your beautifully customized zsh setup. Everything “just works” like it should when you have the Remote WSL extension installed.

If you open code from your terminal with code ., VS Code will automatically detect that it was opened from the WSL, and will auto-attach the Remote WSL extension.

VS Code Extensions With Remote WSL

The Remote WSL extension for VS Code works by setting up a little server on the Linux side, and then connecting to that from VS Code on the Windows side. That being the case, the extensions that you have installed in VS Code won’t automatically show up when you open a project from the WSL.

For instance, I have a Vue project open in VS Code. Even though I have all of the right Vue extensions installed for syntax highlighting, formatting and the like, VS Code acts like it’s never seen a .vue file before.

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All of the extensions that you have installed can be enabled in the WSL. Just find the extension that you want in the WSL, and click the “Install in WSL” button.

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All of the extensions installed in the WSL will show up in their own section in the Extensions Explorer view. If you have a lot of extensions, it could be slightly annoying to install each one individually. If you want to just install every extension you’ve got in the WSL, click the little cloud-download icon at the top of the ‘Local - Installed’ section.

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How To Setup Your Dev Directories

This is already an opinionated article, so here’s one you didn’t ask for on how I think you should structure your projects on your file system.

I keep all my projects on the Linux side. I don’t put my projects in “My Documents” and then try and work with them from the WSL. My brain can’t handle that.

I create a folder called /dev that I put in the root of my /home folder in Linux. Inside that folder, I create another one that is the same name as my Github repo: /burkeholland. That folder is where all of my projects go — even the ones that aren’t pushed to Github.

If I clone a repo from a different Github account (e.g. “microsoft”), I’ll create a new folder in “dev” called /microsoft. I then clone the repo into a folder inside of that.

Basically, I’m mimicking the same structure as source control on my local machine. I find it far easier to reason about where projects are and what repos they are attached to just by virtue of their location. It’s simple, but it is highly effective at helping me keep everything organized. And I need all the help I can get.

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Browsing Files From Windows Explorer

There are times when you need to get at a file in Linux from the Windows side. The beautiful thing about the WSL is that you can still do that.

One way is to access the WSL just like a mapped drive. Access it with a \wsl$ directly from the explorer bar:


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You might do this for a number of different reasons. For instance, just today I needed a Chrome extension that isn’t in the web store. So I cloned the repo in WSL, then navigated to it as an “Unpacked Extension” and loaded it into Edge.

One thing that I do with some frequency in Linux is to open the directory that contains a file directly from the terminal. You can do this in the WSL, too, by directly calling explorer.exe. For instance, this command opens the current directory in Windows Explorer.

$ explorer.exe .

This command is a bit cumbersome though. On Linux, it’s just open .. We can make that same magic by creating an alias in the ~/.zshrc.

alias open="explorer.exe"


When I said all tooling should be on the Linux side, I meant that. That includes Docker.

This is where the rubber really starts to meet the road. What we need here is Docker, running inside of Linux running inside of Windows. It’s a bit of a Russian Nesting Doll when you write it down in a blog post. In reality, it’s pretty straightforward.

You’ll need the correct version of Docker for Windows. As of the time of this writing, that’s the WSL 2 Tech Preview.

When you run the installer, it will ask you if you want to use Windows containers instead of Linux containers. You definitely do. Otherwise, you won’t get the option to run Docker in the WSL.

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You can now enable Docker in the WSL by clicking on the item in the system tray and selecting “WSL 2 Tech Preview”:

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This command is a bit cumbersome though. On Linux, it’s just open .. We can make that same magic by creating an alias in the ~/.zshrc.

alias open="explorer.exe"

Get More Bash On Windows

At this point, you should get the idea about how to put Bash on Windows, and how it works once you get it there. You can customize your terminal endlessly and there are all sorts of rad programs that you can add in to do things like automatically set PATH variables, create aliases, get an ASCII cow in your terminal, and much more.

Running Bash on Windows opened up an entirely new universe for me. I’m able to combine Windows which I love for the productivity side, and Linux which I depend on as a developer. Best of all, I can build apps for both platforms now with one machine.

Thanks for reading

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How To Install Linux, Nginx, MySQL, PHP (LEMP stack) on Ubuntu 18.04?

How To Install Linux, Nginx, MySQL, PHP (LEMP stack) on Ubuntu 18.04?

This guide demonstrates how to install a LEMP stack on an Ubuntu 18.04 server. The Ubuntu operating system takes care of the first requirement. We will describe how to get the rest of the components up and running.


The LEMP software stack is a group of software that can be used to serve dynamic web pages and web applications. This is an acronym that describes a Linux operating system, with an Nginx (pronounced like “Engine-X”) web server. The backend data is stored in the MySQL database and the dynamic processing is handled by PHP.

This guide demonstrates how to install a LEMP stack on an Ubuntu 18.04 server. The Ubuntu operating system takes care of the first requirement. We will describe how to get the rest of the components up and running.

Step 1 – Installing the Nginx Web Server

In order to display web pages to our site visitors, we are going to employ Nginx, a modern, efficient web server.

All of the software used in this procedure will come from Ubuntu’s default package repositories. This means we can use the apt package management suite to complete the necessary installations.

Since this is our first time using apt for this session, start off by updating your server’s package index. Following that, install the server:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

On Ubuntu 18.04, Nginx is configured to start running upon installation.

If you have the ufw firewall running, as outlined in the initial setup guide, you will need to allow connections to Nginx. Nginx registers itself with ufw upon installation, so the procedure is rather straightforward.

It is recommended that you enable the most restrictive profile that will still allow the traffic you want. Since you haven’t configured SSL for your server in this guide, you will only need to allow traffic on port 80.

Enable this by typing:

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTP'

You can verify the change by running:

sudo ufw status

This command’s output will show that HTTP traffic is allowed:

OutputStatus: active

To                         Action      From
--                         ------      ----
OpenSSH                    ALLOW       Anywhere
Nginx HTTP                 ALLOW       Anywhere
OpenSSH (v6)               ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)
Nginx HTTP (v6)            ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)

With the new firewall rule added, you can test if the server is up and running by accessing your server’s domain name or public IP address in your web browser.

If you do not have a domain name pointed at your server and you do not know your server’s public IP address, you can find it by running the following command:

ip addr show eth0 | grep inet | awk '{ print $2; }' | sed 's/\/.*$//'

This will print out a few IP addresses. You can try each of them in turn in your web browser.

As an alternative, you can check which IP address is accessible, as viewed from other locations on the internet:

curl -4

Type the address that you receive in your web browser and it will take you to Nginx’s default landing page:


If you see the above page, you have successfully installed Nginx.

Step 2 – Installing MySQL to Manage Site Data

Now that you have a web server, you need to install MySQL (a database management system) to store and manage the data for your site.

Install MySQL by typing:

sudo apt install mysql-server

The MySQL database software is now installed, but its configuration is not yet complete.

To secure the installation, MySQL comes with a script that will ask whether we want to modify some insecure defaults. Initiate the script by typing:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

This script will ask if you want to configure the VALIDATE PASSWORD PLUGIN.

Warning: Enabling this feature is something of a judgment call. If enabled, passwords which don’t match the specified criteria will be rejected by MySQL with an error. This will cause issues if you use a weak password in conjunction with software which automatically configures MySQL user credentials, such as the Ubuntu packages for phpMyAdmin. It is safe to leave validation disabled, but you should always use strong, unique passwords for database credentials.

Answer Y for yes, or anything else to continue without enabling.

VALIDATE PASSWORD PLUGIN can be used to test passwords
and improve security. It checks the strength of password
and allows the users to set only those passwords which are
secure enough. Would you like to setup VALIDATE PASSWORD plugin?

Press y|Y for Yes, any other key for No:

If you’ve enabled validation, the script will also ask you to select a level of password validation. Keep in mind that if you enter 2 – for the strongest level – you will receive errors when attempting to set any password which does not contain numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special characters, or which is based on common dictionary words.

There are three levels of password validation policy:

LOW    Length >= 8
MEDIUM Length >= 8, numeric, mixed case, and special characters
STRONG Length >= 8, numeric, mixed case, special characters and dictionary                  file

Please enter 0 = LOW, 1 = MEDIUM and 2 = STRONG: 1

Next, you’ll be asked to submit and confirm a root password:

Please set the password for root here.

New password:

Re-enter new password:

For the rest of the questions, you should press Y and hit the ENTER key at each prompt. This will remove some anonymous users and the test database, disable remote root logins, and load these new rules so that MySQL immediately respects the changes we have made.

Note that in Ubuntu systems running MySQL 5.7 (and later versions), the root MySQL user is set to authenticate using the auth_socket plugin by default rather than with a password. This allows for some greater security and usability in many cases, but it can also complicate things when you need to allow an external program (e.g., phpMyAdmin) to access the user.

If using the auth_socket plugin to access MySQL fits with your workflow, you can proceed to Step 3. If, however, you prefer to use a password when connecting to MySQL as root, you will need to switch its authentication method from auth_socket to mysql_native_password. To do this, open up the MySQL prompt from your terminal:

sudo mysql

Next, check which authentication method each of your MySQL user accounts use with the following command:

SELECT user,authentication_string,plugin,host FROM mysql.user;

| user             | authentication_string                     | plugin                | host      |
| root             |                                           | auth_socket           | localhost |
| mysql.session    | *THISISNOTAVALIDPASSWORDTHATCANBEUSEDHERE | mysql_native_password | localhost |
| mysql.sys        | *THISISNOTAVALIDPASSWORDTHATCANBEUSEDHERE | mysql_native_password | localhost |
| debian-sys-maint | *CC744277A401A7D25BE1CA89AFF17BF607F876FF | mysql_native_password | localhost |
4 rows in set (0.00 sec)

In this example, you can see that the root user does in fact authenticate using the auth_socket plugin. To configure the root account to authenticate with a password, run the following ALTER USER command. Be sure to change password to a strong password of your choosing:

ALTER USER 'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED WITH mysql_native_password BY 'password';

Then, run FLUSH PRIVILEGES which tells the server to reload the grant tables and put your new changes into effect:


Check the authentication methods employed by each of your users again to confirm that root no longer authenticates using the auth_socket plugin:

SELECT user,authentication_string,plugin,host FROM mysql.user;

| user             | authentication_string                     | plugin                | host      |
| root             | *3636DACC8616D997782ADD0839F92C1571D6D78F | mysql_native_password | localhost |
| mysql.session    | *THISISNOTAVALIDPASSWORDTHATCANBEUSEDHERE | mysql_native_password | localhost |
| mysql.sys        | *THISISNOTAVALIDPASSWORDTHATCANBEUSEDHERE | mysql_native_password | localhost |
| debian-sys-maint | *CC744277A401A7D25BE1CA89AFF17BF607F876FF | mysql_native_password | localhost |
4 rows in set (0.00 sec)

You can see in this example output that the root MySQL user now authenticates using a password. Once you confirm this on your own server, you can exit the MySQL shell:


Note: After configuring your root MySQL user to authenticate with a password, you’ll no longer be able to access MySQL with the sudo mysql command used previously. Instead, you must run the following:

mysql -u root -p

After entering the password you just set, you will see the MySQL prompt.

At this point, your database system is now set up and you can move on to installing PHP.

Step 3 – Installing PHP and Configuring Nginx to Use the PHP Processor

You now have Nginx installed to serve your pages and MySQL installed to store and manage your data. However, you still don’t have anything that can generate dynamic content. This is where PHP comes into play.

Since Nginx does not contain native PHP processing like some other web servers, you will need to install php-fpm, which stands for “fastCGI process manager”. We will tell Nginx to pass PHP requests to this software for processing.

Note: Depending on your cloud provider, you may need to add Ubuntu’s universe repository, which includes free and open-source software maintained by the Ubuntu community, before installing the php-fpm package. You can do this by typing:

sudo add-apt-repository universe

Install the php-fpm module along with an additional helper package, php-mysql, which will allow PHP to communicate with your database backend. The installation will pull in the necessary PHP core files. Do this by typing:

sudo apt install php-fpm php-mysql

You now have all of the required LEMP stack components installed, but you still need to make a few configuration changes in order to tell Nginx to use the PHP processor for dynamic content.

This is done on the server block level (server blocks are similar to Apache’s virtual hosts). To do this, open a new server block configuration file within the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory. In this example, the new server block configuration file is named, although you can name yours whatever you’d like:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/

By editing a new server block configuration file, rather than editing the default one, you’ll be able to easily restore the default configuration if you ever need to.

Add the following content, which was taken and slightly modified from the default server block configuration file, to your new server block configuration file:

server {
        listen 80;
        root /var/www/html;
        index index.php index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ =404;

        location ~ \.php$ {
                include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
                fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;

        location ~ /\.ht {
                deny all;

Here’s what each of these directives and location blocks do:

  • listen — Defines what port Nginx will listen on. In this case, it will listen on port 80, the default port for HTTP.
  • root — Defines the document root where the files served by the website are stored.
  • index — Configures Nginx to prioritize serving files named index.php when an index file is requested, if they’re available.
  • server_name — Defines which server block should be used for a given request to your server. Point this directive to your server’s domain name or public IP address.
  • location / — The first location block includes a try_files directive, which checks for the existence of files matching a URI request. If Nginx cannot find the appropriate file, it will return a 404 error.
  • location ~ \.php$ — This location block handles the actual PHP processing by pointing Nginx to the fastcgi-php.conf configuration file and the php7.2-fpm.sock file, which declares what socket is associated with php-fpm.
  • location ~ /\.ht — The last location block deals with .htaccess files, which Nginx does not process. By adding the deny all directive, if any .htaccess files happen to find their way into the document root they will not be served to visitors.

After adding this content, save and close the file. Enable your new server block by creating a symbolic link from your new server block configuration file (in the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory) to the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ directory:

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Then, unlink the default configuration file from the /sites-enabled/ directory:

sudo unlink /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Note: If you ever need to restore the default configuration, you can do so by recreating the symbolic link, like this:

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/default /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Test your new configuration file for syntax errors by typing:

sudo nginx -t

If any errors are reported, go back and recheck your file before continuing.

When you are ready, reload Nginx to make the necessary changes:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

This concludes the installation and configuration of your LEMP stack. However, it’s prudent to confirm that all of the components can communicate with one another.

Step 4 – Creating a PHP File to Test Configuration

Your LEMP stack should now be completely set up. You can test it to validate that Nginx can correctly hand .php files off to the PHP processor.

To do this, use your text editor to create a test PHP file called info.php in your document root:

sudo nano /var/www/html/info.php

Enter the following lines into the new file. This is valid PHP code that will return information about your server:


When you are finished, save and close the file.

Now, you can visit this page in your web browser by visiting your server’s domain name or public IP address followed by /info.php:


You should see a web page that has been generated by PHP with information about your server:

If you see a page that looks like this, you’ve set up PHP processing with Nginx successfully.

After verifying that Nginx renders the page correctly, it’s best to remove the file you created as it can actually give unauthorized users some hints about your configuration that may help them try to break in. You can always regenerate this file if you need it later.

For now, remove the file by typing:

sudo rm /var/www/html/info.php

With that, you now have a fully-configured and functioning LEMP stack on your Ubuntu 18.04 server.


A LEMP stack is a powerful platform that will allow you to set up and serve nearly any website or application from your server.