BusyBox is a single binary that contains many common Unix tools. It's often found in embedded Linux systems like routers, in Android smartphones, in Linux containers and anywhere else it would be handy to have a compact set of Unix command line tools.
busybox-w32 is a port of BusyBox to the Microsoft Windows WIN32 API. It brings a subset of the functionality of BusyBox to Windows in a single self-contained native executable.
This version of BusyBox implements well over a hundred Unix-style commands. Some of the more significant are:
Other staples of Unix shell programming, such as
grep are also
available. Most of the commands have a
that displays a brief description and documents the available options.
If you need the full power of bash or the other GNU utilities busybox-w32 may not be what you want: Cygwin , Gow or UnxUtils may be more suitable. However, if you need to ship some shell scripts with your software or if you need to run some random Unix utility on Windows busybox-w32 may be a compact alternative. The full executable is less than half the size of the Cygwin setup program!
You can run individual BusyBox commands from a Command Prompt window:
C:\Users\rmy>busybox uname -a Window_NT win81 6.2 9200 i686 MS/WindowsHowever, for the best experience I recommend using the BusyBox shell. This is configured to run BusyBox commands without having to link each of them into your path. Set up a shortcut on your desktop to run the shell using a command like this:
C:\path\to\busybox.exe sh -l
The last character there is a lowercase 'L' (for login).
Though I don't recommend it, it's possible to create links to each of the BusyBox applets using the command:
busybox --install C:\path\to\directory
Omitting the directory will result in the links being made in the same
directory as the busybox.exe executable you're running. The
--install option creates 'hard' links which are
available on NTFS filesystems but not FAT.
It's possible to remove the hard links to busybox.exe (including busybox.exe itself) by running:
busybox --uninstall C:\path\to\busybox
Since Microsoft Windows can't delete a running executable this only works if the 'busybox' in the command above is different from the binary you're trying to delete. The command:
busybox --uninstall -n C:\path\to\busybox
displays the links to the binary without deleting them.
If you plan on using BusyBox from the Windows command prompt you should note that since release FRP-3532-g01a256149 (2020-07-13) the binaries provided here are configured with wildcard expansion enabled. This differs from the default in earlier releases. More...
There are some notes on performance
measurements I've made. The tl;dr is that for best performance you should
busybox.exe processes from monitoring by Windows
Defender and, if possible, disable Program Compatibility Assistant.
If you want to install a 32-bit build of BusyBox in a system
directory on a 64-bit Windows system you should put it in
C:\Windows\SysWOW64, which is the correct location for
32-bit binaries on 64-bit Windows.
Putting it in
C:\Windows\System32 will result in mysterious
From time to time binary builds and source tarballs will be made available. The latest version is always busybox.exe (currently this is an alias for busybox-w32-FRP-3812-g12e14ebba.exe). Release notes for this version are available.
The latest executable is 550,414 bytes in size. A checksum for this binary (and all others) is in the SHA256SUM file. This key has been used to generate the GPG signature file busybox.exe.sig. The same key is used to sign release tags in the Git source repository.
The 32-bit binary above will work on 64-bit systems but if you have a 64-bit version of Windows there's some advantage in using the 64-bit executable busybox64.exe. It's 624,128 bytes in size.
busybox-w32 includes the
man applet. A
ready-formatted man page for the current version can be downloaded
here. It's only provided
as an example: it just contains the help text for all the applets in
an inconvenient format.
It'll be picked up automatically if you position it relative to the
executable like so:
The binaries are built using the MinGW-w64 toolchain on Fedora and are tested on Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. busybox-w32 also works on Windows XP and on ReactOS, though with reduced functionality.
Source is available in a Git repository which is mirrored on GitHub and Gitlab. It can also be obtained using (IPv6 only):
git clone git://git.frippery.org/busybox-w32
Bug reports can be submitted via GitHub, GitLab or by email to the address below.