console2

For -years- I have hoped and searched and wished and moaned for lack of a halfway decent terminal emulator on Windows. Specifically, one that:

  1. Lets me use my standard unix toolset.
  2. Gives me a command line interface to the host machine WITHOUT requiring me to do something ridiculous like ssh’ing to localhost or firing up an x11 server…
  3. Realizes that sometimes the display is wider than 80 characters…
  4. Provides customizable color codes (#006 on black really stinks).
  5. Doesn’t set TERM=something-nobody-supports.

One wouldn’t think this was too much to ask. But none of the major open source projects of which I am aware provide this. I even tried my hand at writing one myself but got distracted before it was any good.

So, for years, I have used Cygwin xterms and rxvt as a mildly tolerable alternative to, well, nothing.

Today, a coworker and I discovered a 3-year-old blog post promoting Console, a GPL licensed CMD.exe replacement that matches all of my base criteria plus my big dream feature of tabs. TABS!

Console2, Where have you been all my life?!

The project is ancient – but I was using linux desktops for work back in its early days so that probably accounts for my missing it back then.

In the grand tradition of old Sourceforge projects, there is no installer. You just decompress it somewhere and run the exe directly.

When I launched it the first time, I was unsurprised by the 80×25 courier 10 cmd.exe shell it launched by default. I opened the settings menu and was very very pleased with what I found on the first screen. A few minutes later, I had it pointing at my cygwin install:

And a few minutes later:


I am a very happy camper now. It is apparently still an actively developed project – the last SF commit was two days ago.

The only feature requests I can think of is dynamic tab renaming to follow my host/path as I ssh around places, and profiles that recognize when I am connected to a given host and therefore tint the background to warn that I am on a production server, etc…

To be fair, this is a pretty minor gripe as the application actually has similar functionality already – you can configure individual tab templates, and can set ssh as your shell:

And if you select the little dropdown next to the new tab button you can choose to launch the different kind of tab:

So… I’m content. This is the coolest toy I’ve discovered in a very long time.

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