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Mintty as a terminal for Bash on Ubuntu on Windows / WSL


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Mintty as a terminal for WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).


WSLtty components

  • wsltty package components (see below) in the user’s local application folder %LOCALAPPDATA%
  • a wsltty configuration directory in the user’s application folder %APPDATA% (“home”-located configuration files from a previously installed version will be migrated to the new default location)
  • Start Menu shortcuts to start WSL terminals
  • Desktop shorcut to start a terminal for the default WSL distribution
  • *.bat scripts to invoke WSL terminals from the command line
  • optional context menu entries for Windows Explorer to start WSL terminals in the respective folder
  • install/uninstall context menu items from Start Menu subfolder WSLtty


Wsltty does not seem to work with WSL V2 mode since release 2.0.0 (#343). As a workaround until a solution in the wslbridge gateway, it is suggested to install release 1.3.17; maybe uninstall WSL first, see issue 343 comment. Another remedy could be to configure your WSL distributions to run in WSL V1 mode, for example: wsl --set-version Ubuntu 1.

Since release 3.0.5, WSLtty requires Windows version 1809 (the November 2018 release).

Installation from this repository

WSLtty installer (Download standalone installation)

From the release downloads, run the wsltty-VERSION-x86_64-install.exe installer to install the components listed above. Make sure to select a 64-bit installer on a 64-bit system. If Windows complains with a “Windows protected your PC” popup, you may need to click “Run anyway” to proceed with the installation. You may need to open the Properties of the installer first, tab “General” section “Security” (if available) and select “Unblock”, to enable the “Run anyway” button.

WSLtty Portable installer

For a portable installation, e.g. on a USB stick, choose the “-install-portable.exe” file for download. Installation will prompt for a portable installation folder interactively. For example, choosing U:\opt will create and use folder U:\opt\wsltty both as installation directory and configuration directory. Portable installation does not install any start menu or desktop shortcuts and no context menu entries. It creates a shortcut in the selected portable installation folder to start the default WSL distribution.

Installation from archive

In case a local anti-virus guard barfs about the wsltty installer, the release also contains a .cab file. Download it, open it, extract its files to some temporary deployment directory, and invoke install.bat from there, or install-portable.bat for a portable installation.

Quiet installer

The wsltty-VERSION-x86_64-install-quiet.exe installer is intended for integration in another installation framework.

Installation from source repository

Checkout the wsltty repository, or download the source archive, unpack and rename the directory to wsltty. Install Alpine WSL from the Microsoft Store. Invoke make build, then make install.

Note this has to be done within a Cygwin environment. A minimal Cygwin environment for this purpose would be installed with the Cygwin installer from, with additional packages make, gcc-g++, unzip, zoo, patch, (lcab).

Build installers

Install a minimal Cygwin environment plus the additional packages as listed for «Installation from source repository». Invoke make pkg or just make.

Installation to non-default locations

(For experts) Within the installation process, provide parameters to the script install.bat. The optional first parameter designates the installation target, the optional second parameter designates the configuration directory.

Installation with other package management environments

Note: These are 3rd-party packages, not managed by this repository.

Windows Package Manager

(Check package) To install wsltty from the Windows Package Manager Community Repository, invoke one of

  • winget install wsltty
  • winget upgrade wsltty


(Check package) If you use the Chocolatey package manager, invoke one of

  • choco install wsltty
  • choco upgrade wsltty


(Check package) If you use the Scoop package manager,

  • scoop bucket add extras

then, invoke one of

  • scoop install wsltty
  • scoop update wsltty


To uninstall wsltty desktop, start menu, and context menu integration: Open a Windows cmd, go into the wsltty installation folder: cd %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty and run the uninstall script. To uninstall wsltty software completely, remove the installation folder manually.


WSLtty can be invoked with

  • installed Start Menu shortcuts (or Desktop shortcuts if copied there)
  • *.bat scripts (optionally with WSL command as parameters) (see Command line scripts below)
  • Explorer context menu (if installed from the Start Menu WSLtty subfolder)

Starting the mintty terminal directly from the WSLtty installation location is discouraged because that would bypass essential options.


Terminal communication with WSL via its modes V1 or V2 is handled automatically by wsltty (mintty and the wslbridge2 gateway).

Starting issues

If wsltty fails with an Error: Could not fork child process: Resource temporarily unavailable..., its runtime may be affected by some over-ambitious virus defense strategy. For example, with Windows Defender, option “Force randomization for images” should be disabled.

If wsltty fails with an error message that mentions a disk mount path (e.g. /mnt/c), workarounds may be the shutdown of the WSL V2 virtual machine (wsl --shutdown on the distro) or turning off “fast startup” in the Windows power settings (#246, #248).

WSL shell starting issues

With WSL V2, an additional background shell is run which may cause trouble for example when setting up automatic interaction between Windows side and WSL side (see #197 (comment)). As a workaround, the following may be added to (the beginning of) the WSL shell initialization script .bashrc (adapt for other shells):

    # work around
    if [[ -n "$WSL_DISTRO_NAME" ]]; then
      command -v cmd.exe > /dev/null || exit


Start Menu and Desktop shortcuts

In the Start Menu, the following shortcuts are installed:

  • Shortcut WSL Terminal to start the default WSL distribution (as configured with the Windows tool wslconfig or wsl -s)
  • For each installed WSL distribution, for example Ubuntu, a shortcut like Ubuntu Terminal to start in the WSL user home

In the Start Menu subfolder WSLtty, the following additional shortcuts are installed:

  • Shortcut WSL Terminal % to start the default WSL distribution in the Windows %USERPROFILE% home
  • For each installed WSL distribution, for example Ubuntu, a shortcut like Ubuntu Terminal % to start in the Windows %USERPROFILE% home

One Desktop shortcut is installed:

  • Shortcut WSL Terminal to start the default WSL distribution (as configured with the Windows tool wslconfig or wsl -s)

Other, distribution-specific shortcuts can be copied to the desktop from the Start Menu if desired.

The Start menu folder WSLtty contains the link configure WSL shortcuts. This function is initially run when wsltty is installed. It should be rerun after adding or removing WSL distributions, in order to create the respective set of shortcuts in the Start menu.

Command line scripts wsl*.bat

WSLtty installs the following scripts into %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\WindowsApps (and a copy in its application folder %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty):

  • For each installed WSL distribution, e.g. Ubuntu, a command script like Ubuntu.bat to start in the current folder/directory
  • For each installed WSL distribution, e.g. Ubuntu, a command script like Ubuntu~.bat to start in the WSL user home
  • WSL.bat and WSL~.bat to start the default WSL distribution

Given that %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\WindowsApps is in your PATH, the scripts can be invoked from cmd.exe, PowerShell, or via WIN+R.

Context menu entries

WSLtty provides context menu entries for all installed WSL distributions and one for the configured default distribution, to start a respective WSL terminal in a specific folder from an Explorer window. They are not installed by default.

To add launch entries for the default or all WSL distributions to the Explorer context menu, or remove them, run the respective script from the Start Menu subfolder WSLtty:

  • add default to context menu adds context menu entries for the default WSL distribution
  • add to context menu adds context menu entries for all WSL distributions
  • remove from context menu removes context menu entries for WSL distributions


Wsltty installation and the mintty terminal try to use the icon of the respective WSL distribution. If it cannot be determined, a penguin icon is used as a fallback. You can replace it with your preferred default icon by replacing the icon file %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty\wsl.ico.

Mintty settings

Mintty can maintain its configuration file in various locations, with the following precedence:

  • file given with mintty option -c (not used by wsltty default installation)
  • file config in directory given with mintty option --configdir
    • %APPDATA%\wsltty\config in the default wsltty installation
  • %HOME%\.minttyrc (usage deprecated with wsltty)
  • %HOME%\.config\mintty\config (usage deprecated with wsltty)
  • common config file for all mintty installation instances
    • %APPDATA%\mintty\config
  • %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty\etc\minttyrc (usage deprecated with wsltty)


  • %APPDATA%\wsltty\config is the user configuration file location. Further subdirectories of %APPDATA%\wsltty are used for language, themes, and sounds resource configuration. Note the distinction from %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty which is the default wsltty software installation location.
  • The %APPDATA%\mintty\config option provides the possibility to maintain common mintty settings for various installations (like wsltty, Cygwin, MinGW/msys, Git for Windows, MinEd for Windows).
  • (About deprecated options) By default, %HOME% would refer to the root directory of the cygwin standalone installation hosting wsltty. So %HOME% would mean %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty\home\%USERNAME%. If you define HOME at Windows level, this changes accordingly. Note, however, that the WSL $HOME is a completely different setting.

Emoji deployment

Mintty and the wsltty package do not bundle actual emoji graphics but there are scripts to support easy download and deployment. If you have another instance of mintty installed (e.g. in cygwin) and have emojis deployed already in the common config folder %APPDATA%\mintty\emojis, they will be reused by wsltty.

To deploy emojis standalone for wsltty, use the scripts installed in %APPDATA%\wsltty\emojis within WSL:

  • cd $(wslpath "$APPDATA/wsltty/emojis")
  • getemojis to provide emoji graphics as listed by
  • getflags to provide emoji flag graphics (extending Unicode dynamically) from various sources

Shell selection and Login shell

The WSLtty deployment does not impose a shell preference; it invokes the user’s default shell in login mode by the final - parameter:

  • %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty\bin\mintty.exe --WSL= --configdir="%APPDATA%\wsltty" -

You may tweak shortcuts, scripts, or context menu entries as follows:

To launch a default shell in non-login mode, remove the final dash.

To invoke your preferred shell, replace the final dash with a shell pathname and an optional -l parameter

  • %LOCALAPPDATA%\wsltty\bin\mintty.exe --WSL= --configdir="%APPDATA%\wsltty" /bin/bash -l

WSL locale setup and character encoding

Character encoding setup by locale setting is propagated from the terminal towards WSL. So you can select your favourite locale with configuration options or with command-line options, for example in a copied dedicated desktop shortcut.

If for example you wish to run WSL in GB18030 encoding, you may set options Locale=zh_CN and Charset=GB18030 and the WSL shell will adopt that setting, provided that the selected locale is configured to be available in the locale database of the WSL distribution. This can be achieved in Ubuntu with the following commands:

  • sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/locales/supported.d
  • sudo echo zh_CN.GB18030 GB18030 >> /var/lib/locales/supported.d/local
  • sudo locale-gen

Components and Credits

For mintty, see the Mintty homepage (with further screenshots), the Mintty manual page,
and the Mintty Wiki, including a Hints and Tips page.

It is based on Cygwin and includes its runtime library (sources).

For interacting with WSL, wslbridge used to be the gateway prototype. Many thanks for this enabling gateway go to Ryan Prichard.

For recent changes in WSL, particularly WSL mode V2, the new gateway wslbridge2 is used instead. Many thanks for this further development and maintenance go to Biswapriyo Nath.