Windows development environment

In general, UNIX-based operating systems—like macOS or Linux—provide a better development environment for building Substrate-based blockchains. All of the code examples and command-line instructions in Substrate Tutorials and How-to guides illustrate how to interact with Substrate using UNIX-compatible commands in a terminal.

However, if your local computer uses Microsoft Windows instead of a UNIX-based operating system, you can configure it with additional software to make it a suitable development environment for building Substrate-based blockchains. To prepare a development environment on a computer running Microsoft Windows, you can use Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to emulate a UNIX operating environment.

Before you begin

Before installing on Microsoft Windows, verify the following basic requirements:

  • You have a computer running a supported version of the Microsoft Windows operating system.
  • You must be running Microsoft Windows 10, version 2004 or later, or Microsoft Windows 11 to install Windows Subsystem for Linux on a computer with the Windows desktop operating system.
  • You must be running Microsoft Windows Server 2019, or later, to install Windows Subsystem for Linux on a computer with the Windows server operating system.
  • You have good internet connection and access to a shell terminal on your local computer.

Set up Windows Subsystem for Linux

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) enables you to emulate a Linux environment on a computer that uses the Windows operating system. The primary advantage of this approach for Substrate development is that you can use all of the code and command-line examples as described in the Substrate documentation. For example, you can run common commands—such as ls and ps—unmodified. By using Windows Subsystem for Linux, you can avoid configuring a virtual machine image or a dual-boot operating system.

To prepare a development environment using Windows Subsystem for Linux:

  1. Check your Windows version and build number to see if Windows Subsystem for Linux is enabled by default.

    If you have Microsoft Windows 10, version 2004 (Build 19041 and higher), or Microsoft Windows 11, Windows Subsystem for Linux is available by default and you can continue to the next step.

    If you have an older version of Microsoft Windows installed, see WSL manual installation steps for older versions. If you are installing on an older version of Microsoft Windows, you can download and install WLS 2 if your computer has Windows 10, version 1903 or higher.

  2. Select Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt from the Start menu, right-click, then Run as administrator.
  3. In the PowerShell or Command Prompt terminal, run the following command:

    wsl --install

    This command enables the required WSL 2 components that are part of the Windows operating system, downloads the latest Linux kernel, and installs the Ubuntu Linux distribution by default.

    If you want to review the other Linux distributions available, run the following command:

    wsl --list --online
  4. After the distribution is downloaded, close the terminal.
  5. Click the Start menu, select Shut down or sign out, then click Restart to restart the computer.

    Restarting the computer is required to start the installation of the Linux distribution. It can take a few minutes for the installation to complete after you restart.

    For more information about setting up WSL as a development environment, see Set up a WSL development environment.

Install required packages and Rust

To install the Rust toolchain on WSL:

  1. Click the Start menu, then select Ubuntu.
  2. Type a UNIX user name to create user account.
  3. Type a password for your UNIX user, then retype the password to confirm it.
  4. Download the latest updates for the Ubuntu distribution using the Ubuntu Advanced Packaging Tool (apt) by running the following command:

    sudo apt update
  5. Add the required packages for the Ubuntu distribution by running the following command:

    sudo apt install --assume-yes git clang curl libssl-dev llvm libudev-dev make protobuf-compiler
  6. Download the rustup installation program and use it to install Rust for the Ubuntu distribution by running the following command:

    curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf https://sh.rustup.rs | sh
  7. Follow the prompts displayed to proceed with a default installation.
  8. Update your current shell to include Cargo by running the following command:

    source ~/.cargo/env
  9. Verify your installation by running the following command:

    rustc --version
  10. Configure the Rust toolchain to use the latest stable version as the default toolchain by running the following commands:

    rustup default stable
    rustup update
  11. Add the nightly version of the toolchain and the nightly WebAssembly (wasm) target to your development environment by running the following commands:

    rustup update nightly
    rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown --toolchain nightly
  12. Verify the configuration of your development environment by running the following command:

    rustup show
    rustup +nightly show

    The command displays output similar to the following:

    # rustup show
    
    active toolchain
    ----------------
    
    stable-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu (default)
    rustc 1.61.0 (fe5b13d68 2022-05-18)
    
    # rustup +nightly show
    
    active toolchain
    ----------------
    
    nightly-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu (overridden by +toolchain on the command line)
    rustc 1.63.0-nightly (e71440575 2022-06-02)

Compile a Substrate node

Now that you have Rust installed and the Rust toolchains configured for Substrate development, you are ready to finish setting up your development environment by cloning the Substrate node template files and compiling a Substrate node.

The node template provides a working environment that includes all of the most common features you need to build a blockchain without any extraneous modules or tools. To ensure that the node template offers a relatively stable working environment for you to experiment with, the recommended best practice is to clone Substrate node template from the Substrate Developer Hub repository, rather than from the core Substrate repository.

To compile the Substrate node template:

  1. Clone the node template repository by running the following command:

    git clone --branch polkadot-v0.9.25 https://github.com/substrate-developer-hub/substrate-node-template
  2. Change to the root of the node template directory by running the following command:

    cd substrate-node-template
  3. Compile the node template by running the following command:

    cargo build --release

    Because of the number of packages required, compiling the node can take several minutes.

After the build completes successfully, your local computer is ready for Substrate development activity.

Where to go next

The Substrate Developer Hub acts as a central portal for access to the many resources available to the community. Depending on your interests and learning style, you might prefer one avenue over another. For example, if you prefer to read source code and are familiar with Rust, you might want to start by digging into the Rust API.

Here are a few additional suggestions for where you can learn more.

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