Scott Hanselman

Now is the time to make a fresh new Windows Terminal profiles.json

October 3, '19 Comments [14] Posted in Open Source | Win10
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I've been talking about it for months, but in case you haven't heard, there's a new Windows Terminal in town. You can download it and start using it now from the Windows Store. It's free and open source.

At the time of this writing, Windows Terminal is around version 0.5. It's not officially released as a 1.0 so things are changing all the time.

Here's your todo - Have you installed the Windows Terminal before? Have you customize your profile.json file? If so, I want you to DELETE your profiles.json!

Your profiles.json is somewhere like C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.WindowsTerminal_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState but you can get to it from the drop down in the Windows Terminal like this:

Windows Terminal dropdown

When you hit Settings, Windows Terminal will launch whatever app is registered to handle JSON files. In my case, I'm using Visual Studio Code.

I have done a lot of customization on my profiles.json, so before I delete or "zero out" my profiles.json I will save a copy somewhere. You should to!

You can just "ctrl-a" and delete all of your profiles.json when it's open and Windows Terminal 0.5 or greater will recreate it from scratch by detecting the shells you have. Remember, a Console or Terminal isn't a Shell!

Note the new profiles.json also includes another tip! You can hold ALT- and click settings to see the default settings! This new profiles.json is simpler to read and understand because there's an inherited default.


// To view the default settings, hold "alt" while clicking on the "Settings" button.
// For documentation on these settings, see: https://aka.ms/terminal-documentation

{
"$schema": "https://aka.ms/terminal-profiles-schema",

"defaultProfile": "{61c54bbd-c2c6-5271-96e7-009a87ff44bf}",

"profiles":
[
{
// Make changes here to the powershell.exe profile
"guid": "{61c54bbd-c2c6-5271-96e7-009a87ff44bf}",
"name": "Windows PowerShell",
"commandline": "powershell.exe",
"hidden": false
},
{
// Make changes here to the cmd.exe profile
"guid": "{0caa0dad-35be-5f56-a8ff-afceeeaa6101}",
"name": "cmd",
"commandline": "cmd.exe",
"hidden": false
},
{
"guid": "{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}",
"hidden": false,
"name": "PowerShell Core",
"source": "Windows.Terminal.PowershellCore"
},
...

You'll notice there's a new $schema that gives you dropdown Intellisense so you can autocomplete properties and their values now! Check out the Windows Terminal Documentation here https://aka.ms/terminal-documentation and the complete list of things you can do in your profiles.json is here.

I've made these changes to my Profile.json.

Split panes

I've added "requestedTheme" and changed it to dark, to get a black titleBar with tabs.

requestedTheme = dark

I also wanted to test the new (not even close to done) splitscreen features, that give you a simplistic tmux style of window panes, without any other software.

// Add any keybinding overrides to this array.
// To unbind a default keybinding, set the command to "unbound"
"keybindings": [
{ "command": "closeWindow", "keys": ["alt+f4"] },
{ "command": "splitHorizontal", "keys": ["ctrl+-"]},
{ "command": "splitVertical", "keys": ["ctrl+\\"]}
]

Then I added an Ubuntu specific color scheme, named UbuntuLegit.

// Add custom color schemes to this array
"schemes": [
{
"background" : "#2C001E",
"black" : "#4E9A06",
"blue" : "#3465A4",
"brightBlack" : "#555753",
"brightBlue" : "#729FCF",
"brightCyan" : "#34E2E2",
"brightGreen" : "#8AE234",
"brightPurple" : "#AD7FA8",
"brightRed" : "#EF2929",
"brightWhite" : "#EEEEEE",
"brightYellow" : "#FCE94F",
"cyan" : "#06989A",
"foreground" : "#EEEEEE",
"green" : "#300A24",
"name" : "UbuntuLegit",
"purple" : "#75507B",
"red" : "#CC0000",
"white" : "#D3D7CF",
"yellow" : "#C4A000"
}
],

And finally, I added a custom command prompt that runs Mono's x86 developer prompt.

{
"guid": "{b463ae62-4e3d-5e58-b989-0a998ec441b8}",
"hidden": false,
"name": "Mono",
"fontFace": "DelugiaCode NF",
"fontSize": 16,
"commandline": "C://Windows//SysWOW64//cmd.exe /k \"C://Program Files (x86)//Mono//bin//setmonopath.bat\"",
"icon": "c://Users//scott//Dropbox//mono.png"
}

Note I'm using forward slashes an double escaping them, as well as backslash escaping quotes.

Save your profiles.json away somewhere, make sure your Terminal is updated, then delete it or empty it and you'll likely get some new "free" shells that the Terminal will detect, then you can copy in just the few customizations you want.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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What's the difference between a console, a terminal, and a shell?

September 20, '19 Comments [14] Posted in Linux | Open Source | Win10
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I see a lot of questions that are close but the questions themselves show an underlying misunderstanding of some important terms.

  • Why would I use Windows Terminal over PowerShell?
  • I don't need WSL for bash, I use Cygwin.
  • Can I use conemu with PowerShell Core or do I need to use Windows Terminal?

Let's start with a glossary and clarify some words first.

Terminal

The word Terminal comes from terminate, indicating that it's the terminating end or "terminal" end of a communications process. You'll often hear "dumb terminal" when referring to a text-based environment where the computer you are sitting next to is just taking input and showing text while the real work happens at the other end in a mainframe or large computer.

TTY or "teletypewriter" was the first kind of terminal. Rather than a screen you'd have a literal typewriter in front of you. When you type on it, you're seeing the text on a piece of paper AND inputing that text into a computer. When that computer replies, you'll see the typewriter automatically type on the same paper.

Photo by Texas.713 used under CC

When we refer to a Terminal in the software sense, we're referring to a literal software version of a TTY or Terminal. The Windows Terminal is that. It's really good at displaying textual output. It can take input and pass it on. But the Terminal isn't smart. It doesn't actually process your input, it doesn't look at your files or think.

Console

Folks in the mid 20th century would have a piece of furniture in their living room called a console or console cabinet. A Console in the context of computers is a console or cabinet with a screen and keyboard combined inside it. But, it's effectively a Terminal. Technically the Console is the device and the Terminal is now the software program inside the Console.

image

In the software world a Terminal and a Console are, for all intents, synonymous.

Shell

A shell is the program that the terminal sends user input to. The shell generates output and passes it back to the terminal for display. Here's some examples of Shells:

  • bash, fish, zsh, ksh, sh, tsch
  • PowerShell, pwsh
  • cygwin
  • cmd, yori, 4dos, command.com

Here's an important point that should make more sense now that you have these terminals - Your choice of shell doesn't and shouldn't dictate your choice of terminal application.

Aside: WSL and WSL2 (the Windows Subsystem for Linux) are a complete local Linux (or many Linuxes) that run on Windows 10. They are full and real. WSL2 ships a real Linux kernel and runs in on Windows. Cygwin is NOT a Linux. Cygwin is a large collection of GNU and Open Source tools which provide functionality similar to Linux on Windows - but it is not Linux. It's a simulacrum. It's GNU utils compiled against Win32. It's great, but it's important for you to know what the difference is. Cygwin may let you run your shell scripts but it will NOT run Apache, Docker, or other real ELF-binaries and Linux apps.

Your Choice of Windows Consoles?

There are a number of shells that ship with Windows. Here's a few I'm running now. Note the "chrome" or the border and title around them? Those shells are all hosted by a the legacy Windows console you have never heard of called conhost.exe. You can go to the command prompt, type powershell, cmd, or ubuntu and any number of shells will run. Conhost does the work of input and output.

Now, forget that conhost exists, because it sucks - it's super old.

Shells that come with Windows

Pseudo Console, Pseudo Terminal, PTY, Pseudo TTY (ConPTY)

Pseudo Terminals are terminal emulators or software interfaces that emulate terminals. They pretend to be terminals like the ones above. *Nix systems have long had a pseudo-terminal (PTY) infrastructure and now Windows as a pseudoconsole (ConPTY) as well.

Window's new ConPTY interface is the future of consoles and terminals on Windows. If you choose a 3rd party (non-built-in) console applications for Windows, make sure it supports ConPTY and it'll be a better experience than some of the older consoles that use screen scraping or other hacks.

image

Back to your choice of Windows Consoles

Remembering there's a lot of shells you can use in Windows, there's a lot of 3rd party consoles you can use if you don't like conhost.exe (and you shouldn't).

All of these Terminals support ALL the shells above and any shells I've missed. Because a shell isn't a terminal. Pick the one that makes you happy. I use PowerShell Core and Ubuntu in WSL2 in the Windows Terminal.

Windows Terminal

Hope this helps clear things up.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Patching the new Cascadia Code to include Powerline Glyphs and other Nerd Fonts for the Windows Terminal

September 17, '19 Comments [6] Posted in Linux | Win10
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Microsoft released a nice new ligature-friendly open source font this week called Cascadia Code. It'll eventually be shipped with the open source Windows Terminal (you can get it from the store fee) but for now you can just download and install the TTF.

I've blogged about Fira Code and Monospaced Programming Fonts with Ligatures before. Just like keyboards, mice, monitors, text editors, and all the other things that we as developers put in our toolkits, Fonts are a very personal thing. Lots of folks have tweeted me, "why is this better than <font I use>." I dunno. Try it. Coke vs. Pepsi. If it makes you happy, use it.

I use Cascadia Code for my Terminals and I use Fira Code for my code editor. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That said, one important thing that you may want to know about is that you have FULL control of your fonts! Lots of folks want certain glyphs, or a fancy bash prompt, or they use posh-git, or PowerLine, or all of the above.

Right now Cascadia Code doesn't include every glyph in the world, but don't let that hold you back. Fix it.

For example, if I go install "Oh my Posh" and spice up my PowerShell Core prompt, it might look like this with Cascadia Code today.

Cascadia Code with no Nerd Fonts

But if I patch Cascadia Code on my own machine to include Nerd Fonts and other glyphs, I'll get this lovely prompt in Windows Terminal:

Cascadia Code with Nerd Fonts and PowerLine

So you have the power to do a lot of things. Don't be satisfied. Nest, and make your prompt your own! There are lots of Nerd Fonts but I want to patch Cascadia Code today (I'm sure they'll do it themselves one day, but I'm impatient) and make it look the way I want. You can to!

Starting with FontForge in Ubuntu under WSL

Using WSL2 and Ubuntu, I installed the Nerd Fonts Patcher and ran it on my downloaded version of Cascadia code like this:

scott@IRONHEART:/mnt/d/github/nerd-fonts$ fontforge -script font-patcher /mnt/c/Users/scott/Downloads/Cascadia.ttf
Copyright (c) 2000-2014 by George Williams. See AUTHORS for Contributors.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
with many parts BSD <http://fontforge.org/license.html>. Please read LICENSE.
Based on sources from 11:21 UTC 24-Sep-2017-ML-D.
Based on source from git with hash:
The following table(s) in the font have been ignored by FontForge
Ignoring 'DSIG' digital signature table
Warning: Mac string is a subset of the Windows string in the 'name' table
for the License string in the English (US) language.
Adding 53 Glyphs from Seti-UI + Custom Set
╢████████████████████████████████████████╟ 100%
Adding 198 Glyphs from Devicons Set
╢████████████████████████████████████████╟ 100%

Done with Patch Sets, generating font...

Generated: Cascadia Code Nerd Font

Cool! I could even go nuts and add -c and add thousands of glyphs. It just depends on what I need. I could just go --powerline and --fontawesome and call it a day. It's up to you! Salt your Fonts to taste!

Now I can install my local modified TTF like any other, then go into my profile.json in Windows Terminal and set the font face to my new personal custom "CascadiaCode Nerd Font!" Boom. All set.

UPDATE:  Alistair has created a forked version with the added glyphs. You may (or may not) be able to download his forked and renamed version from this Github comment. Slick!

Please also check out my YouTube video on blinging out your PowerShell prompt in the Windows Terminal!

Check out my YouTubes


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Introducing open source Windows 10 PowerToys

September 4, '19 Comments [6] Posted in Win10
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Microsoft Windows PowerToysYesterday the Windows Team announced the first preview and code release of PowerToys for Windows 10. This first preview includes two utilities:

Many years ago there was PowerToys for Windows 95 and frankly, it's overdue that we have them for Windows 10 – and bonus points for being open source!

These tools are also open source and hosted on GitHub! Maybe you have an open source project that's a "PowerToy?" Let me know in the comments. A great example of a PowerToy is something that takes a Windows Features and turns it up to 11!

EarTrumpet is a favorite example of mine of a community "PowerToy." It takes the volume control and the Windows auto subsystem and tailors it for the pro/advanced user. You should definitely try it out!

As for these new Windows 10 Power Toys, here’s what the Windows key shortcut guide looks like:

PowerToys - Shortcut Guide

And here's Fancy Zones. It's very sophisticated. Be sure to watch the YouTube to see how to use it.

Fancy Zones

To kick the tires on the first two utilities, download the installer here.

The main PowerToys service runs when Windows starts and a user logs in. When the service is running, a PowerToys icon appears in the system tray. Selecting the icon launches the PowerToys settings UI. The settings UI lets you enable and disable individual utilities and provides settings for each utility. There is also a link to the help doc for each utility. You can right click the tray icon to quit the Power Toys service.

We'd love to see YOU make a PowerToy and maybe it'll get bundled with the PowerToys installer!

How to create new PowerToys

See the instructions on how to install the PowerToys Module project template.
Specifications for the PowerToys settings API.

We ask that before you start work on a feature that you would like to contribute, please read our Contributor's Guide. We will be happy to work with you to figure out the best approach, provide guidance and mentorship throughout feature development, and help avoid any wasted or duplicate effort.

Additional utilities in the pipeline are:

If you find bugs or have suggestions, please open an issue in the Power Toys GitHub repo.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Totally unsupported hacks - Add Windows Terminal to the Win+X Shortcut menu

August 27, '19 Comments [13] Posted in Win10
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You shouldn't do this and if you choose to do this you may hurt yourself or one of your beloved pets.

You have been warned.

The Windows+X hotkey has been around for many years as is a simple right-click style context list of Developer/Administrator stuff that your techies might need in the course of human events.

There's one obscure setting in Settings | Taskbar where you can set the main option for the Command Prompt to be replaced with PowerShell, although that was flipped to "on" by default many years ago.

Replace Command Prompt with PowerShell

I want Windows Terminal in that Win+X menu.

Fast Forward to a world with lots of alternative console hosts, Linux running on Windows natively, not to mention cross-platform open source PowerShell Core, AND the new open source Windows Terminal (that you can just go download right now in the Windows Store) we find ourselves in a middle place. We want to replace the default console with the Windows Terminal everywhere as the default but that's gonna be a while.

Until then, we can integrate the Windows Terminal into our lives in a few obvious ways.

  • Pin Windows Terminal to your taskbar
  • Train yourself to Win+R and run "wt" rather than "cmd.exe" at wt.exe is a shim that launches the store-based Windows Terminal.
  • Add Windows Terminal to the Win+X menu.

It is that last one that concerns me today.

The Win+X implementation is a totally bonkers thing that I just don't understand with its origins lost to the mist of forgotten time.

You can go check out C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX and find it full of LNK files. Just drop yours in there, right? Well, I say nay nay!

They didn't want just anyone dropping stuff in there so to add a new application to Windows+X you need to:

  • Make or find a LNK file for your application.
    • BUT! Your lnk file can't (today?) be a LNK to a Windows Store app - more on that later. They appear to be ignored today.
  • Store a special hash in your LNK file per Rafael's excellent writeup here so that they are considered "Approved Links."
  • Make a new Group 4 folder in the \WinX folder above OR update Group 3 and copy your link in there considering the numbering scheme.
    • Note the ordering in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ShellCompatibility\InboxApp

OR

Here's my WinX\Group3 folder . Note the shortcut at the top there.

image

I wanted to find a link to the Windows Terminal but it's harder than it looks. I can't find a real LNK file anywhere on my system. BUT I was able to find a synthetic one and make a copy by going "Win+R" and running "shell:AppsFolder" which brings you to a magic not-a-folder folder.

Not a folder folder

That is a folder of lies. I tried making a copy of this LNK, moving it to my deskop, hashing it with Rafael's util but it's ignored, presumably because it's a Windows Store LNK. Instead, I'll head out to cmd.exe and type "where wt.exe" to find the wt.exe shim and make a link to that!

C:\Users\scott>where wt.exe
C:\Users\scott\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsApps\wt.exe

These files are also lies, but lies of a another type. Zero byte lies.

Zero Byte Lies

Right-click wt.exe and Create Shortcut. Then drag that shortcut out of there and into somewhere else like your Desktop. You can then use hashlnk and move it to the WinX folder.

OR, you can use this scary and totally unsupported utility hosted at a questionable website that you have no business visiting. It's called Win+X Menu Editor and it was a chore to download. So much so that I'm going to hide a copy in my DropBox for the day in the near future when this utility and website disappear.

Be careful when you go download this utility, the site is full of scary links that say Download Now but they are all lies. You want the subtle text link that points to a ZIP file, just above the Donate button that says "Download Win+X Menu Editor."

In this utility you can add an item that points to your new WT.LNK file and it will use Rafael's code and copy the LNK file to the right place and re-number stuff if needed. Again, be careful as you never know. You might mess up your whole life with stuff like this. It worked for me.

Win+X Menu Editor

And there you go.

Windows Terminal in the WIN+X menu

Lovely. Now IMHO in some ideal future this should just happen out of the box, but until then it's nice to know I can do it myself.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.