A tool for Windows users that allows the emulation of the Linux OS system
Windows 7 / Windows 2003 / Windows Vista / Windows XP / Windows 2000 / Windows 8
Cygwin is an emulated Linux-like environment for Windows operating systems.
Reasons for Using Cygwin
A Cygwin installation provides a DLL (cygwin1.dll) that emulate a lot of POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) system functionalities. In Cygwin environment, users can use Linux command line tools like ls, more, awk, and others. Cygwin is not a production tool. So it shouldn’t be used in production environments. But it’s a good tool for testing ideas out. Users can install the tool on their Windows machine and try out various Linux programs.
Cygwin is an open source product. Over the years, the Cygwin community has ported Unix, GNU, BSD and Linux tools and packages. It also has support for GNOME, X Windows System, and KDE desktop environments.
Features of Cygwin
Users can download the setup executable from the Cygwin website. The setup tool lets the user select what packages to download. The pre-compiled packages are downloaded from the available mirror sites.
Due to the addition of various functionalities, Cygwin has grown quite large over the years. Depending on package selection, the total installation size can go from 23 to 100+ GB. So users need to be careful about what packages they select. Also, it means that download and installation can take a long time.
Once Cygwin is installed, users can click on the Cygwin icon to initiate it on Windows. The Cygwin bash shell terminal has a distinct look and feel, so users are aware that it is not the DOS terminal.
Cygwin comes with a lot of GNU packages. So it’s a great tool for developers to test out concepts and ideas. On the Cygwin terminal, drives are mapped to /cgydrive, so C: drive would be mapped to /cygdrive/c. Cygwin provides utilities to convert between Windows and Unix paths, file formats and line endings.
For users who don’t want to run heaving Linux virtual machines (VMs) on their Windows machine, Cygwin can be an alternative.
Cygwin is a great development tool to run on the Windows environment. It shouldn’t be used for production. It can also work as a learning tool for new developers and students who don’t have access to Unix or Linux systems.