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To search and download a package missed from Cygwin I need to run setup.exe GUI each time, click many times and do other boring things.

Is there a way to do the same from Cygwin's command line directly? Like apt-get tools do.

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Excellent question! –  Luc M Nov 25 '10 at 1:08

6 Answers 6

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Take a look here:

Aside from the other things, it gives the following list of options to setup.exe:

Command Line Options:
 -A --disable-buggy-antivirus           Disable known or suspected buggy anti
                    virus software packages during execution.
 -C --categories                        Specify entire categories to install
 -D --download                          Download from internet
 -d --no-desktop                        Disable creation of desktop shortcut
 -h --help                              print help
 -K --pubkey                            Path to extra public key file (gpg format)
 -L --local-install                     Install from local directory
 -l --local-package-dir                 Local package directory
 -n --no-shortcuts                      Disable creation of desktop and start menu
 -N --no-startmenu                      Disable creation of start menu shortcut
 -O --only-site                         Ignore all sites except for -s
 -P --packages                          Specify packages to install
 -p --proxy                             HTTP/FTP proxy (host:port)
 -q --quiet-mode                        Unattended setup mode
 -r --no-replaceonreboot                Disable replacing in-use files on next
 -R --root                              Root installation directory
 -S --sexpr-pubkey                      Extra public key in s-expr format
 -s --site                              Download site
 -U --keep-untrusted-keys               Use untrusted keys and retain all
 -u --untrusted-keys                    Use untrusted keys from last-extrakeys
 -X --no-verify                         Don't verify setup.ini signatures

So setup.exe -P <package name> should do the job. Don't have cygwin right here, so test it to confirm it works as expected.

To search for a package, per:

you can use cygcheck -p:

  cygcheck -p REGEXP
  -p, --package-query  search for REGEXP in the entire cygwin.com package
                       repository (requires internet connectivity)

which produces output like (example from above site):

$ cygcheck -p 'libexpat.*\.a'
Found 2 matches for 'libexpat.*\.a'.

expat-1.95.7-1            XML parser library written in C
expat-1.95.8-1            XML parser library written in C
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Caveat: if the update replaces cygwin1.dll, Cygwin programs will start to misbehave, and the Cygwin documentations recommend a reboot. So it's best to close all Cygwin programs, then run setup.exe directly from cmd (if you want to automate, use a batch file, not a shell script). –  Gilles Nov 25 '10 at 1:52
Thanks! Another thing I need is the ability to search, because I don't know yet what a package I want to download. Once I'll find the full list of packages I could grep it at least... –  Pavel Vlasov Nov 25 '10 at 12:18
See the edit for an example. –  icyrock.com Nov 25 '10 at 14:02

The installer allows it from command line (elevated shell, please):

setup-x86.exe --root c:\cygwin -q --upgrade-also

for 64 bits version:

setup-x86_64.exe --root c:\cygwin -q --upgrade-also


  • Replace c:\cygwin with your CygWin's root installation directory.
  • Suggested to close any CygWin shell or program (i.e: net stop sshd if you installed OpenSSH).
  • The parameter -q is not mandatory.

Works via GUI (DOS shell) or even on remote console (SSH or telnet). Not tested on PowerShell (someone did?).

Example of correct updating output:

G:\Instalac\CygWin\v2.852>Starting cygwin install, version 2.852
User has backup/restore rights
Current Directory: g:\Instalac\CygWin\Packages
Could not open service McShield for query, start and stop. McAfee may not be installed, or we don't have access.
root: c:\cygwin system
Selected local directory: g:\Instalac\CygWin\Packages
net: Direct
Loaded cached mirror list
get_url_to_membuf http://cygwin.com/mirrors.lst
getUrlToStream http://cygwin.com/mirrors.lst
site: http://ftp.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/cygwin/
get_url_to_membuf http://ftp.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/cygwin/x86/setup.bz2
getUrlToStream http://ftp.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/cygwin/x86/setup.bz2
get_url_to_membuf http://ftp.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/cygwin/x86/setup.bz2.sig
getUrlToStream http://ftp.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/cygwin/x86/setup.bz2.sig
Changing gid back to original
Visited: 122 nodes out of 4415 while creating dependency order.
Dependency order of packages: _autorebase base-cygwin cygwin _update-info-dir libgcc1 libiconv2 libintl8 alternatives libattr1 li
bgmp10 coreutils libstdc++6 terminfo libncursesw10 libreadline7 bash findutils sed base-files libuuid1 libblkid1 libsmartcols1 zl
ib0 util-linux bashdb zlib-devel binutils libbz2_1 bzip2 libffi6 libp11-kit0 libtasn1_6 p11-kit p11-kit-trust ca-certificates cry
pt libmpfr4 gawk editrights libpcre1 grep libsigsegv2 diffutils csih cygrunsrv popt libpopt0 cygutils cygwin-devel dash file liba
tomic1 libcloog-isl4 libgomp1 libisl10 libmpc3 libquadmath0 libssp0 w32api-headers w32api-runtime windows-default-manifest gcc-co
re libexpat1 liblzma5 libdb4.8 libgdbm4 libopenssl100 libsqlite3_0 libcharset1 libiconv libintl-devel libuuid-devel python gdb li
bargp getent groff gzip hostname info ipc-utils libncurses10 less libapr1 libiodbc2 libmysqlclient18 libcom_err2 libkrb5support0
libk5crypto3 libkrb5_3 libgssapi_krb5_2 libsasl2_3 libopenldap2_4_2 perl openssl libpq5 libaprutil1 libedit0 libproxy1 libneon27
libpipeline1 libserf1_0 login lynx make man-db mintty nano ncurses openssh procps psmisc rebase run screen subversion xz tar tzco
de vim-minimal which zsh
Changing gid to Administrators
Ending cygwin install

If, during update, you had issues like these:

The following DLLs couldn't be rebased due to errors:


The following DLLs couldn't be rebased because they were in use:


ReBaseImage (/usr/bin/cygcrypt-0.dll) failed with last error = 6

...then you must rebase after installation:

1.- Close all CygWin shell, programs and services.
2.- Open c:\CygWin\bin\ash.exe as admin (elevated).
3.- Run /bin/rebaseall.

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Expanding on @Johnny's answer http://superuser.com/a/624731/110335

The annoyance I faced were occasion prompts that the .ini file is from a newer version of Cygwin's setup.exe

I wrote myself the following script to self-update, and then update all that needs to, noninteractively.


@echo on
cd /d e:\cygwin
move /y cygwinSetup-x86_64.exe   setup-x86_64.exe
wget --progress=dot -S -N  http://cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe
move /y  setup-x86_64.exe cygwinSetup-x86_64.exe 

cygwinSetup-x86_64.exe   --no-desktop --no-shortcuts --no-startmenu --quiet-mode
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An alternate solution would be to use the apt-cyg script available on GitHub.

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The location for Cygwin's setup seems to have changes and split. Now you need either

wget http://cygwin.com/setup-x86.exe


wget http://cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe
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This performs an unattended upgrade of all cygwin components

cd C:\cygwin
wget -N http://cygwin.com/setup.exe
setup.exe --no-desktop --no-shortcuts --no-startmenu --quiet-mode

You should reboot after the upgrade is completed to prevent cygwin apps from misbehaving due to upgraded cygwin1.dll

--no-desktop Disable creation of desktop shortcut

--no-shortcuts Disable creation of desktop and start menu

--no-startmenu Disable creation of start menu shortcut

--quiet-mode Unattended setup mode

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Would you mind expanding on the answer to explain what each command does? –  Raystafarian Jul 27 '13 at 1:32
I believe now you may need setup-x86_64.exe or setup-x86.exe. –  drescherjm Jul 30 at 17:10

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