Cygwin on Windows : Among that small but vocal minority that really care about such things, the argument goes on. Which is better, linux or windows? They both have advantages and strengths so why not use both of them? One suggestion is to shrink the windows partition and create a new linux partition. Then a linux operating system, maybe Ubuntu or Debian, is installed in the new partition. You then have what is referred to as a dual boot system. Either windows or linux is selected at startup. The idea of messing with the main drive can be a little bit scary. There is an easier and less radical solution. Let me introduce Cygwin.

Q. What is Cygwin?

A. Cygwin is a linux like environment that runs on windows.

Q. Why would I want to use Cygwin?

A. There are many applications available in linux that are not available in windows. Also, many of the commercial windows applications have corresponding linux versions that are free.

Q. Is it difficult to install Cygwin?

A. No. Go to the Cygwin site, download the setup program, and with a few clicks it is ready to go.

Q. Why would I want to use something that looks like windows command line dos?

A. Many users feel that linux is cleaner, more powerful, and faster. Also, if you are building your own site, you will probably be on a linux server. Cygwin is a good place to get used to the features and commands.

Q. I have installed Cygwin but can’t find the feature I want to use. Where is it?

A. The initial setup of Cygwin installs a base system. Any time you want to add a new feature, just run setup again, use the search box to find the feature you want, select it, and install with a few mouse clicks.

Q. Is Cygwin linux?

A. No. To quote from the Cygwin site:

Cygwins is a Linux-like environment for Windows. It consists of two parts:

A DLL (cygwin1.dll) which acts as a Linux API emulation layer providing substantial Linux API functionality.

A collection of tools which provide Linux look and feel.

This is only a small overview of Cygwins. I hope that I have encouraged you to try it. I have used it for many things such as manipulation of PDF files, to telnet into my online sites’ files, and to try out things I found in my searches but couldn’t find a way to do it in windows or if the programs were available, they were too expensive. In some cases, just being made aware of the terminology led me to free windows applications.