Cygwin - bring the Linux command line to Windows

Cygwin logo

Cygwin is a great application. What it allows you to do is bring the command line environment and many commands from the Linux world onto a Windows machine. If you have no choice but to use a Windows-based computer, yet you wish to have the power and flexibility of a Unix system, then Cygwin is for you.

Technically speaking, Cygwin is:

  • 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.

It is really easy to install. If you head over to the Cygwin website, you can download a small setup program which provides a rather quirky, but working package manager will allow to pick which packages you want in your Cygwin distribution. They will then be downloaded and installed and Cygwin will be set up in the directory of your choice.

Once you are installed, you can double-click the shortcut that Cygwin makes on the Windows desktop to start a real bash shell. You won't have 100% of the commands available to you in your average Linux distribution, but you will be able to do a fair amount, including running basic sh and bash scripts, for example. You can of course, install any shell you like, you're not just limited to bash!

By default, the root filesystem (/) is mounted to a folder inside the Cygwin folder, and you can access your Windows mounted drives through the folders /cygdrive/DRIVELETTER.

From then on, it's pretty simple to use, so if you're already familiar with Unix command line stuff, you can get going!

You will of course find more detailed information, documentation and more and the downloads from the Cygwin site. The current release of Cygwin runs on all versions of Windows from 98 through XP (it apparently runs fine on 32-bit Vista too but is unsupported).

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Cygwin - bring the Linux command line to Windows

  1. 38088 (guest)

    # Posted on 24 August 2007 at 01:12 PM


    This is my first time that i visited fosswire site. I read about this gadget and i like it too much. I have a simple doubt about it. If i understand correctly this software is like a linux emulator? or this is intendeed to enable a Unix comand on Dos ambient? The comands that you tape works in windows ambient and make alterations like in Unix? I wish it works this way and if, my Windows will suffer some changes. The API of Windows is to close and is not allowed make changes. If someone know please answer me. Thank you. Great site

  2. feedmebits (guest)

    # Posted on 24 May 2011 at 07:53 AM

    Hey Peter,

    Came across your website searching for a cli tool that can run under windows. thanks for the article :) I know your from linux-noob website :)


  3. # Posted on 25 May 2011 at 06:45 PM


    Glad you found the article useful. :)

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