In the past, Windows has developed a reputation for being a difficult OS to use as a developer. Things were difficult to install and run, involved complex workarounds and you could forget doing anything involving Ruby. Thankfully in recent years that's improved, even more so with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) so it's now possible to do pretty much everything you can on a unix system.
This is easiest when setting up a computer from scratch, but if it's an existing computer most of this should work (I've had issues with installing Ruby on an existing install though).
You may not need to use all these programs, I use the following tools on a daily basis for various types of development:
Link to Header WSL
The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) gives the ability to run Linux bash on a Windows computer, and gives the ability to do pretty much everything you would normally do.
- Run the following command in Powershell as an Administrator
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
- Make sure you restart your computer once that's done
- Install Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store. There are a few different versions so install what you like, but the unversioned one (
Ubuntu) will install the latest version
- Open up the Ubuntu app and follow the instructions to set up your new user
Pro tip: make note of the password you set, you will need to use that in future
Link to Header HomeBrew
- Download and install HomeBrew by running the below command in WSL
sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Linuxbrew/install/master/install.sh)"
- It will print out steps for you to take, make sure you follow all of them for it to work.
sudo apt-get install build-essential
echo 'eval $(/home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/bin/brew shellenv)' >>~/.profile
eval $(/home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/bin/brew shellenv)
brew install gcc
Link to Header Ruby
Ruby can be a bit tricky (but nowhere near as tricky as it used to be), and may require re-installing, so recommend you do this first when you can
sudo apt-get update -y && sudo apt-get upgrade -y
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:brightbox/ruby-ng
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ruby2.5 ruby2.5-dev build-essential dh-autoreconf
Link to Header NVM
- Install NVM with Homebrew
brew install nvm
- Run the following commands to setup your terminal to use NVM
cp $(brew --prefix nvm)/nvm-exec ~/.nvm/
source $(brew --prefix nvm)/nvm.sh
- Install the version of node that you want and tell nvm to use that, eg:
nvm install 12.6.0
nvm use 12.6.0
Link to Header Yarn
You can install yarn either with Homebrew or via
apt-get, it's a little easier using Homebrew though as Ubuntu sometimes comes pre-installed with
cmdtest which conflicts with yarn
Link to Header Installing with Homebrew
- Run to install yarn
brew install yarn
Link to Header Installing with
sudo apt remove cmdtest
- Run to install yarn
curl -sS https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/pubkey.gpg | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/ stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends yarn
- Keep an eye on the install and make sure it's not installing
If you receive an error when running
yarn install about no install directory, it's using
cmdtest, uninstall that and run the yarn install scripts again
Link to Header Hotel
Hotel is a tool I use when running local servers, to proxy localhost urls to mor user friendly (and static) domains.
For example, when I run a Gatsby site locally, it could be
localhost:8001 depending on what else I have running, and while one site could be
:8000 on Monday, on Tuesday it might be
:8001 depending on which site I start first.
With Hotel, it uses randomly generated numbers (to not conflict with other ports in use), and proxies them to a local domain set for that project, eg.
It's a nice easy one to install:
npm install -g hotel
You can start the program by running
hotel start, and end it by running
In each project, set your starting script, eg:
hotel add "npm start"
This start script may need tweaking, Hotel will set the port to
$PORT by default, so this may need to be passed onto the local site, eg.
hotel add "npm start --port=$PORT"
Link to Header Windows Terminal
No matter whether you use WSL, Git Bash, Command Prompt or Powershell, Windows Terminal is the one for you.
Install through the Windows App Store.
You can edit the settings to customise the terminals available, the default terminal, or to change the theme and background colours. For example, I have a background image set (with a fair bit of opacity so it's not too bright), so at a glance I can see which terminal I'm in.
"commandline": "\"%PROGRAMFILES%\\git\\usr\\bin\\bash.exe\" -i -l",
"icon": "C:\\Program Files\\Git\\mingw64\\share\\git\\git-for-windows.ico",
"name": "Git Bash",
"name": "Ubuntu 20.04 LTS",
"colorScheme": "Themer Dark",
"name": "Theme Dark",