Cygwin : UNIX shell for Windows

Cygwin is a free application that provides a UNIX like environment on Windows operating system. Cygwin consists of UNIX system call libraries along with many GNU application. Compilers, development tools, development tool kits, GNU emacs, TeX and LaTeX, OpenSSH (client and server), and much more are packed into different modules which can be downloaded and used on your Windows PC.

Cygwin Overview

Cygwin acts as an emulation layer providing substantial POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) system call functionality, and a collection of tools, which provide a Linux look and feel. With Cygwin installed, users have access to many standard UNIX utilities. Cygwin can help you execute all the UNIX commands on Windows PC which is always a concern for developers, specially the developers working on Linux servers.

Cygwin’s POSIX compatibility does not mesh well with the native Windows API. If you mix POSIX calls with Windows calls in your program it is possible that you will see uneven results. In particular, Cygwin signals will not work with Windows functions which accept filenames may be confused by Cygwin’s support for long filenames.

In this article I will be talking of its installation and listing some of the common features of Cygwin also the native UNIX tasks that can be done on Windows PC using this application.

Cygwin Installation

Installation of Cygwin begins with downloading the executable file and running it. Here are series of screen shots that can guide you through the complete installation.

1) Make sure that you are using a version of Windows supported by Cygwin, and that you have sufficient disk space. Recommended is 5GB minimum as the complete Installation of Cygwin can weight around 5GB.

2)Run the executable file and then choose the option “install from internet”. This allows application to download the complete repository from the server to your local machine.

3) Choose the default directory. C:\Cygwin, this is always recommended. Click Next.

4) Choose the type of Internet connection. Select “Direct Connection”. Hit Next.

5) Select a nearby mirror site from which to download the Cygwin packages. Any one will do.

6) Selecting packages:This is the critical part. In this step you need to choose the applications you want. The applications or the packages can be selected just by clicking default label adjacent to the package name. In case you are completely new to UNIX, these are most commonly used packages:

  • opennssh
  • keychain (for ssh key pairs)
  • gv
  • ghostscript
  • emacs
  • vi
  • grace
  • tcsh
  • gnu compilers
  • tetex
  • aspell
  • gnuplot
  • rsync

7) As soon as you click next, the installation begins. It takes some time, could be around 30 minutes depending upon the downloading speed. Launch Cygwin by clicking the batch file.

Cygwin Features

  1. Cygwin is free/open source. It can be modified using the existing source code which is available for download.
  2. You can bash commands on Cygwin. Install compilers, SDK’s and tools on it.
  3. Clipboard Integration – Clipboard integration between the X clipboard and the Windows clipboard. Supports text only.
  4. Remote Clients – Remote clients can be launched and displayed in your Cygwin/X session either via telnet or via X11 tunneling over ssh, using either Cygwin’s openssh package.
  5. Execute client server applications using two different instances of Cygwin on same PC.

Cygwin Download

Download Cygwin here.

The video will guide you through the Cygwin installation steps.

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Azharuddin Khan, being a technology enthusiastic, loves writing blogs and updating them. Currently pursuing his Bachelors in Information Technology, he also loves in extending support via providing hardware solutions.