busybox-w32

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. Source is available in a GitHub repository: busybox-w32

This version of BusyBox implements well over a hundred Unix-style commands. Some of the more significant are:

ash
The BusyBox shell is based on ash. It strives to be POSIX-compatible, though it does support some features of bash. A UNIX-style shell is something like the Windows command prompt, though much more powerful. It can be used as an interactive command line or to run shell scripts (like Windows batch files, though again, much more powerful).
awk
awk is a scripting language with a particular emphasis on pattern matching. It's commonly used to process text files containing rows and columns of data.
sed
sed is a stream editor. It can be used to make automatic, non-interactive changes to text files.
vi
vi is a powerful visual editor. If you're already familiar with vi you'll know what to expect. If not you should be aware that it's not particularly intuitive: you need to learn how to use vi. Try this BusyBox vi tutorial.

Other staples of Unix shell programming, such as find and grep are also available. Most of the commands have a --help option 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 a Unix build script 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/Windows
However, for the best experience I recommend using the BusyBox shell. This has been 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 in a Command Prompt window using a command like this:

   C:\Windows\system32\cmd.exe /c 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.

If you plan on using BusyBox from the Windows command prompt you should note that the binaries provided here are configured with wildcard expansion disabled. This is the preferred option when the BusyBox shell is being used. There is a build-time setting to enable wildcard expansion but it isn't the default. More...

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 failures.

From time to time binary builds and source tarballs will be made available. The latest version is always busybox.exe.

The latest executable is 419,328 bytes in size. Its sha256sum is:

    e4db506b12103d573431e868d5d0b280dd8a4d4f1944579a60f16a265718e190
This key has been used to generate the PGP signature file busybox.exe.sig. (This applies to the FRP series of binaries; the earlier TIG series was signed with this key.)

Older binaries and the source corresponding to each binary can be found here.

Recent changes include:

The binaries are built using the mingw32 toolchain on Fedora and are tested on Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. They are known to work on other versions of Windows.


Ron Yorston
15th February 2013 (updated 16th August 2016)