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Linux has WINE to run Windows apps on Linux, I wonder if this works the other way around too.

Sure, I could download source packages and try a manual compile, but that's complicated and often requires libraries I can't find.

Some people told my Cygwin is a good idea to run apps from. However, I have yet to be presented with a compelling usercase.

Installing all of Cygwin just to do "ls -la" every now and then isn't exactly reason enough for me to do it.

Can anyone give a concrete example of a piece of software they are now using on windows because of cygwin?

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Have you tried the win32 UnixUtils aka --I haven't used it in years, but I remember it saved the bacon a few times to be able to run wget. – MarkHu Feb 6 at 9:02
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Cygwin and wine aren't quite comparable. Cygwin doesn't run native binaries, it's just a POSIX environment, allowing someone to do just what you said, download source packages and try a manual compile. it also comes with many packages that have already been through this process. Any app in Cygwin, however, is quite concretely a Cygwin app, not a Linux app running in Windows.

The closest I've seen to the ability to run Linux apps in Windows would be coLinux ( ) which is actually running a full Linux kernel alongside Windows, and thus is more equatable to virtualization.

As to a piece of software, Cygwin + OpenSSH makes for a very practical remote access solution to a windows box from a number of environments, without the hassle of a server that redraws the entire screen for simple character operations.

On top of that, Cygwin's Xserver comes in very handy when working in a mixed Linux/Windows environment, and to run programs designed to run in Linux, for example, rxvt on windows makes an excellent terminal.

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andLinux is another one, I wish those would exist for 64 bit. – Tom Wijsman Jan 27 '11 at 11:15
andLinux is actually the coLinux kernel, combined with an Ubuntu disk image, and a handy systray utility. I too, would love to have nothing tying me to 32-bit x86. or for that matter, x86 in general. – Jeremy Sturdivant Jan 27 '11 at 11:17

A lot, because there is a POSIX subsystem (SUA) and a X Window Server (Xming) for Windows.

As for Cygwin... It will likely give similar results, but SUA is closer to the kernel thus performs better.

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I'd hardly call that because of Cygwin, and SUA has been around in the form of SFU for nearly as long as Cygwin has (OpenNT development started in 1996, Cygwin's initial release was in 1995) – Jeremy Sturdivant Jan 27 '11 at 11:15

If you just want a unix-like shell environment, Cygwin is fine. There are a bunch of packages ported to Cygwin and the installation is, for the most part, straight forward. Like every other posix environment there will be the usual assorted configuration issues and gotchas. I have never personally been happy with Xming.

In my experience the Cygwin stuff will be slower than native Linux on the same hardware and there are some weird edge cases (I had a perl script that always failed under cygwin, while the identical script worked properly under Linux).

If you are getting into more complicated linux-only stuff, then for my money it is worth actually running linux, either natively or in a VM solution like VMware Workstation or VirtualBox.

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