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how can I configure emacs on Windows 7 'Meta shell' command to open a cygwin shell instead of a Microsoft Windows shell?

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I use this configuration all the time, and IMHO the best way to do it is to use a Cygwin emacs. The everything is consistent - Emacs file handling and your shell.

You can explicitly give Emacs the shell file name - that variable is cleverly named: explicit-shell-file-name. Set it to, say, c:/cygwin/bin/bash.exe, etc.

More comprehensive setup and other useful tips for this configuration: http://www.emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/wiki/setup-cygwin.el

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