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I installed Cygwin on Windows XP without any additional packages and tried to build midnight commander from source.

Alas, the gcc compiler was missing, so I checked the option in the devel section in the cygwin install dialog. ./configure script was halted on glib missing error and glib itself has other dependencies. So I just checked all the devel package - and everything worked fine then, but it looks like an overkill: the cygwin directory has 5GB now.

I am not sure which components can I uncheck to be able to build apps like midnight commander. I would also appreciate any link or brief insight into the devel components of Cygwin.

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Did you delete the package tarballs once you installed? That probably also takes a bunch of space. Deleting them should help the disk impact. –  Rich Homolka Mar 26 '13 at 22:25
    
Good shot, Rich: it saved 1GB, thank you! –  Jan Turoň Mar 27 '13 at 0:01
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There is no canonical list of the requirements for building any particular package, because the requirements for each package vary. Cygwin's maintainers have opted not to provide a default reasonably complete set of packages, and instead only provide a minimal set which you can add to as required.

If you don't want to install a mass of packages, as you've done, the only options are to select packages individually, either based on guesswork or trying to build and seeing what fails.

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