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0.2.2 • Public • Published


Spawn native pseudoterminals for the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Notable features:

  • Full support for standard and custom escape sequences
  • Get name of current foreground terminal process
  • Customizable shell, working directory, environment and more


Install wslpty by running:

npm install wslpty

The following example sets up a terminal piped through stdout, then closes it after 5 seconds:

import * as wslpty from 'wslpty';
var ptyProcess = wslpty.spawn({
    cols: 80,
    rows: 30,
    cwd: '~'
ptyProcess.on('data', function (data) {
ptyProcess.write('ls -a\r');
ptyProcess.resize(40, 40);
ptyProcess.write('ls -a\r');
setTimeout(() => {
}, 5000);


Wslpty is built in two parts that communicate to each other over a TCP socket:


A client written in Node.js that exposes the user-facing API and spawns the backend portion of the code. It spawns a TCP server on a randomly chosen port and starts the backend process. It is located in the frontend/ folder and runs on Windows at runtime.


A TCP client written in Rust that forks the pty and provides a translation layer between the socket communication and the pty. It is located in the backend/ folder and runs in WSL at runtime.

The backend is written in Rust because Rust can interop cleanly into C (where the forkpty capabilities live) and it compiles to a standalone binary. This is important because the backend runs within WSL itself. Even if a user is running Node.js from Windows (a must when using this package), they do not necessarily have Node.js installed within WSL. Providing a standalone binary avoids this problem.


It is highly recommended that you develop wslpty within WSL itself. To develop, you will need the following:

  • Windows installation with WSL enabled
  • Node.js - 8.x or above
  • Rust - stable toolchain


There are some wonderful tools out there that make working with pseudoterminals on Windows possible outside of the standard console host. They heavily inspired the design and implementation of this package, but come with some limitations:

  • winpty - makes it possible to create a pty in windows using an embedded conhost
    • Unable to track process names in the terminal
    • Conhost swallows or transforms some escape sequences, making TrueColor and some terminal integrations difficult or impossible
  • wslbridge - creates a pty in WSL and passes data out on a TCP socket to avoid the limitations of winpty
    • Designed for use specifically in Cygwin - not Node.js compatible
    • Associated wsltty terminal application lacks some features (such as tabs) that many people desire in terminals
  • node-pty - creates a pty in Linux/MacOS/Windows in Node.js
    • Uses winpty to create terminals in Windows, with all of its limitations
    • Starting from 0.8.0, the new ConPTY Windows interface is supported, but it only works for newer versions of Windows and still does not expose process name properly

This package combines the Node.js interface of node-pty (and some of its backend pseudoterminal code) with the socket-based communication pattern of wslbridge to make creation of a fully functional WSL pty effortless in Node.js.

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  • princjef