Top 15 Best Online Linux Terminals and Bash Script Editors
Do you often find yourself needing to use a Linux terminal but prefer sticking with your current operating system? Or maybe you are thinking about transitioning to Linux but find it somewhat intimidating and would rather practice a few commands before switching over. Whichever the case may be, the good news is that you don’t actually need to install a Linux distro on your machine in order to use a Linux terminal. That’s because you can find plenty of online Linux terminals and bash editors that you can use for free.
But wouldn’t it be easier to just install a lightweight Linux distro or run it off a USB flash drive? A lot of the time, yes, it would, however, there are situations when you may not have access to your computer or USB drives. Of course, you could always install a remote desktop client and access your machine that way, but it’s often more convenient to just use an online console instead. Especially if you’re only practicing and don’t want to download and install any additional software.
There’s quite a huge variety of online Linux terminals and bash script editors out there, to the point where it can become difficult to decide which one to use. Since we have quite a bit of experience with these types of tools, we figured it might help some of you guys if we put together a list of the top emulators and bash editors you can try right now. Check out our picks down below.
Top Online Linux Terminals
We’re splitting the list into two sections because there are some important differences between online terminals and online bash editors. In this first section, we’re going to take a look at top websites that emulate Linux terminals and allow you to issue commands and run scripts just like you would on a regular terminal. These online Linux terminals can be accessed from pretty much any browser but keep in mind that some of them require you to register an account in order to save your sessions.
Webminal is one of the most popular online Linux terminals out there and a great choice for beginners. The website is primarily used as an educational tool by professors and students all around the world. Webminal offers a few simple lessons you can try to warm up but you can skip those if you already know what you’re doing. You also get access to MySQL tables and terminal screen casting along with the ability to interact and learn from other Webminal users via the forums.
Before you can use Webminal you will need to register a free account but the process usually only takes about 2 minutes or so. Each user gets 100 MB of storage but can’t run more than 10 simultaneous processes. This is to avoid any potential fork bombs. If you’re ever in need of more space, Webminal also offers a solid online IDE that comes with 5 GB of storage and only costs $2 per month.
Codeanywhere is a premium online Linux terminal that offers both free and paid options. The website gives you a cloud-based terminal and cross-platform functionality. There’s also an SSH console that supports direct port access and allows you to collaborate with other users in real-time. Codeanywhere containers can be accessed not just from an SSH terminal but also via any SFTP client. In addition, there are also plenty of integrations with things like Google Drive, Dropbopx, Amazon S3, and more.
The website is primarily aimed at full-time coders and programmers, which is why it’s not completely free. That said, there is a free trial and paid licenses start at only $2.50 per month if paid annually or $3 per month with monthly billing. Signing up for any of the paid plans gives access to technical support and the ability to revert back to previous versions of your work, among other features.
JSLinux is a website that allows you to run various operating systems directly in your browser. In spite of its name, the website also supports Windows 2000 and FreeDOS in addition to Linux distros. Technically speaking, this isn’t so much an online Linux terminal as it is a full emulation. But of course, you can stick to using just the terminal if you don’t want to mess around with anything else.
Some of the operating systems supported by JSLinux come with a console-based UI while others support X Window so feel free to go with the one that works best for you. You can use any emulated OS available on the site right away without registering an account and you can even upload local files to the virtual machine. However, there doesn’t seem to be a way to save your sessions at this time, so all your progress will be lost once you leave the website.
JS/UIX works on most modern web browsers and comes with several key mapping schemes. In addition, there’s also a virtual keyboard as well so you can issue commands using just your mouse if you want. JS/UIX was primarily designed for demonstration purposes, however, Masswerk, the company behind the project also provides a free library that allows anyone to create terminal-like interfaces that are even more fleshed out.
Copy.sh is pretty similar to JSLinux in the sense that it gives you access to multiple types of emulators, each running on a different operating system. This utility has a wider variety of options to choose from along with a few more features. In addition to Linux, you can also emulate a few other interesting operating systems like FreeDOS, OpenBSD, Solar, Oberon, Windows 95, and even good old MS-DOS.
If you’re looking for something a bit more specific, however, the website allows you to upload CD or floppy disk images in order to emulate other operating systems. You will be able to use (some of) these operating systems online but Copy.sh doesn’t store disk images on its servers so any work you do will be lost once you close the session. Having said all that, the project’s website is mainly for demonstration purposes so make sure to check out Copy.sh on GitHub for more details.
Linux Containers is an umbrella project sponsored by Canonical that includes a number of smaller projects like LXC, LXD, and LXCF5. The one you’ll want to look out for is LXD, a command-line tool that aims to offer an experience that’s identical to that of a virtual machine but without actually using one. Instead, the project uses system contains to achieve that same goal. Thanks to this design, LXD is highly secure, scalable and comes with useful features like advanced resource control, network management, support for cross-host container transfers, and more.
There is a little bit of a downside to LXD in that it can only be used for chunks of up to 30 minutes at a time as of right now. The project is still heavily in development so some of this may change down the line, but you are also limited to 4 sessions per IP, 256 MB of dedicated memory, 10 GB of dedicated disk space, and IPv6 connectivity. The great thing about the Linux Containers project is that you can find useful tutorials and plenty of documentation on the website to help you get started.
LinuxZoo is another simple to use online Linux emulator that doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. Then again, it doesn’t really need them either. You’ll mainly want to use LinuxZoo to emulate a CentOS 7 virtual machine but there are a couple of other distros you could try. There are around 200 virtual machines active at the time of this writing and the service is usually not very busy so you shouldn’t have to worry about queues or anything like that.
Like most services on this list, LinuxZoo provides you with root access and gives you complete control over the virtual machine you’re using. You will need to create an account in order to use LinuxZoo but the service is completely free. Just like LXD, LinuxZoo provides users with nice tutorials and useful tips to help you make the most out of the emulator. Be sure to read the information found on the home page if you’re not sure how to get started with LinuxZoo.
As far as special features are concerned, there’s not much to talk about here. You can use the “help” command to get a few tips if you’re not sure how to get started and CB.VU lets you bookmark other useful commands for later use. Another thing that may come in handy is the fact that CB.VU remembers when you last visited the terminal and displays the time and date at the top of the screen.
Top Online Bash Editors
While you can bash scripts using any of the online Linux terminals mentioned in the previous section, it’s not really the best way of going about it. Using an online bash editor is a lot easier and more efficient most of the time. That’s because these tools are designed for that purpose alone so you don’t have to worry about jumping through any additional hoops in order to start bashing scrips.
Tutorials Point is a fantastic platform that offers hundreds of courses on everything ranging from IT and development to business, design, academics, and so much more. The website has an entire section devoted to coding, aptly named Coding Ground, and it’s there where you can find a wide variety of online compilers, interpreters, and document editors. The editor you’ll want to check out is called Bash Shell.
Bash Shell comes with a clean interface and some very useful features like the ability to save, cut or paste scripts. The compiler is available in about a dozen different themes and can be customized further from the settings menu. For example, you can change the font size, tab size, hide line numbers, and more. The online shell can be used without registering, but you will need an account in order to take advantage of all the features.
JDoodle is somewhat of a fan-favorite among programmers and Linux veterans. The platform features tons of online compilers, terminals, editors, interactive desktop environments, and more. Among other things, here you can find interactive terminals for MySQL and Mongo DB, Python3 and PHP IDEs, C++ compilers, and an HTML/CSS/JS editor. That’s just scratching the surface, though. And, of course, there’s also an online bash shell IDE where you can practice bashing scripts.
The bash shell looks very clean and features a dark theme for when you’re working on late-night projects. There are interactive and full-screen modes, both of which can be turned on or off, along with an options menu that lets you save and print projects, share them on blogs and websites or collaborate with others. The menu also contains an “Execute History” section where you can see all the scripts you’ve bashed recently.
Once you’re ready to put what you’ve learned into practice, you can use the built-in bash editor to start testing some scripts. The console itself is very minimalistic and doesn’t come with any special features but you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. The fact that you can’t save your sessions directly on the platform is a bit disappointing, but you can always copy them manually on your computer.
ShellCheck works great as a compiler but it works even better as a script analysis tool. The goal of this utility is to identify and help you fix common syntax issues and semantic problems that may occur while you’re testing scripts. Unlike similar tools, ShellCheck gives you detailed explanations related to these issues directly in the console. ShellCheck can be easily installed on pretty much any Linux distribution but you can also stick entirely to the online version if you wish.
While you’ll probably going to use ShellCheck on desktop most of the time, the developers made sure to optimize the tool for mobile devices as well. In addition, there’s a very nice feature that can be used to automatically apply fixes to your code. The feature doesn’t work for every script out there but it does come in handy on occasion. If you want to install the tool locally make sure to check out the project on GitHub.
RexTester is a very reliable platform that provides compilers and code editor for pretty much any scripting language you can think of. This includes things like C#, Assembly, Java, MySQL, Perl, Swift, and more than a dozen others. And, of course, there’s also an online bash editor as well. The editor has a few interesting features like a live cooperation mode, fullscreen toggle, and the ability to change the layout direction. You can also save your scripts for later if you create an account on the website.
One of the most unusual things you’ll immediately notice when visiting RexTexter is the Code Wall. This is a section of the website where users can post interesting pieces of code that others can grab and test for themselves. Users can also comment and vote on the various pieces of code, with the best-rated ones going to the top of the Code Wall. It’s a pretty neat idea that does a good job of promoting a sense of community on the website.
Paiaza is another great platform where you can go to learn and practice all sorts of programming languages. The website has multilingual support for English, Spanish and Japanese and although it’s technically still in Beta, you shouldn’t run into any issues while using it. There’s also Twitter integration and you can sign up for an account if you want to save some scrips for later. You can still use the platform even if you don’t, but all your work will disappear once you leave the website.
The bash compiler supports real-time collaboration with other website users but the feature is still in the early stages of development. Otherwise, you can expect features like auto-completion, keymap toggle, several font size options, and plenty of themes to choose from. You can also schedule tasks for later and link to your GitHub account, however, these along with a couple of other features are reserved exclusively for registered members.
Repl is a powerful community-driven platform that aims to make programming more accessible to everyone. The company builds simple and reliable tools that are perfect for newcomers and veterans alike. On Repl you can find support for over 50 scripting languages and great features like real-time collaboration, GitHub integration, in-browser IDEs, tutorials, plugins, and more. The bash compiler itself is highly customizable, allowing users to change its layout, theme, font size, indent type, wrapping, and keybinds.
Repl can be considered a premium platform as it offers a couple of paid plans, though you can use it for free as well. Registered users that stick to the free plan benefit from 100 MB of storage, 500 MB of memory, and can use the collaboration feature. However, the plan only supports up to two collaborators. Users who want to add more collaborators and unlock additional features can upgrade to the $7 per month plan or get a custom pricing quote for a team package.
The days of wracking your brain trying to learn a new scripting language or operating system all by yourself using local tools are long gone. Nowadays, you can find plenty of great programming courses, many of which are available for free, and practice your script bashing skills using an online platform.
Similarly, you can learn how to use Linux even if you don’t have it installed on your machine by simply working with online terminals. Linux and programming often go hand in handy so you might as well practice both of them while you’re learning new things.
If you’re just now taking your first step into the wonderful world of Unix, we recently put together a great list of useful and interesting Linux commands for users of all skill levels so don’t hesitate to check it out. Some of those commands are absolutely essential so the sooner you learn about them the better. Speaking of beginner-level stuff, we also have a simple tutorial on how to schedule cronjobs using Crontab that may come in handy as well.
If you’re already a Linux veteran, on the other hand, we recommend looking into our list of top monitoring tools every system administrator should know about. You’re probably already familiar with some of them but there may be a few that you’ve missed.
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