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.


10 Answers 10


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
  • 9
    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). Nov 25, 2010 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... Nov 25, 2010 at 12:18
  • See the edit for an example. Nov 25, 2010 at 14:02

This performs an unattended upgrade of all Cygwin components for 64-bit:

cd C:\cygwin
wget -N https://cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe
setup-x86_64.exe --no-desktop --no-shortcuts --no-startmenu --quiet-mode

This performs an unattended upgrade of all cygwin components for 32-bit:

cd C:\cygwin
wget -N https://cygwin.com/setup-x86.exe
setup-x86.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
  • On cygwin 2.9, I get zsh: command not found: setup.exe, but setup exe is here.
    – Timo
    Dec 17, 2017 at 10:40
  • If you're using no-shortcuts why would you also need no-desktop and no-startmenu? Mar 7, 2018 at 0:57
  • Very helpful, I never knew about this. You can even specify which packages to install, which is a time saver. See here for an example: gist.github.com/piotrpolak/c616455f1da8dfc2d4e101afbfdcdc8d Apr 29, 2018 at 3:22

An alternate solution would be to use the apt-cyg script available on GitHub.

  • 3
    It doesn't support upgrading cygwin itself, I think.
    – thoni56
    Jun 18, 2015 at 5:02
  • @ThomasNilsson why do you think that? Oct 18, 2015 at 21:26
  • 1
    Since you'd be running it from a shell using cygwin1.dll. Of course you could use another shell...
    – thoni56
    Oct 20, 2015 at 7:04
  • the "real" question was NOT update, but "how to install one package without using setup UI", and this is the REAL answer ... really, is a LOT better than setup -p be cuz, it WILL TELL YOU WHAT IT DOES, and not just put your faith blindly on setup Oct 28, 2015 at 16:56

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
  • i have a setup.bat with the content bin\wget.exe --timestamping http://www.cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe && start setup-x86_64.exe, making sure i always run the latest installer and only download the installer if there's actually a new version (that's what --timestamping does), then the bat file starts it
    – hanshenrik
    May 1, 2019 at 16:27

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.

  • 1
    Works for me. Thanks. Need to download the latest setup-x86.exe or setup-x86_64.exe first. And using the cmd Run As Administrator
    – Marslo
    May 26, 2017 at 9:20
  • 2
    There's almost no reason to run setup as administrator or with --root if you are not installing for all users (i.e. where cygwin root requires admin to write to...). setup-86[_x64].exe -B to run as current user. You can later elevate to install cygrunsrv as a windows service if needed.
    – cowbert
    Nov 13, 2018 at 20:46

Expanding on @Johnny's answer https://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

Unattended upgrade


setup-x86.exe -q -g


Command Line Options:
 -q --quiet-mode                   Unattended setup mode
 -g --upgrade-also                 also upgrade installed packages

I felt this need too a while ago. I used to just keep the installer file downloaded so I could just run it to install, but occasionally as Cygwin would be updated, the installer file would become out of date. I ended up creating a Powershell script that auto-elevates, downloads the installer, and runs an unattended upgrade. I have it sit on my desktop and can just right-click and "Run with Powershell" and it will perform an in-place upgrade of all my Cygwin packages. The only user interaction needed is for UAC and a "Press any key to continue" prompt at the very end. It can be run from the command-line as well, though, as it is just a script.

I have had the code up here for a while: http://pastebin.com/wMRctAuL

I copied it below. I wrote it with the help of a few StackOverflow Q&As as well. :) All you have to do to be able to run it is to enable local Powershell scripts on your machine. It's a complete, Windows-native solution.

# Get the ID and security principal of the current user account
$myWindowsPrincipal=new-object System.Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal($myWindowsID)

# Get the security principal for the Administrator role

# Check to see if we are currently running "as Administrator"
if ($myWindowsPrincipal.IsInRole($adminRole)) {
   # We are running "as Administrator" - so change the title and background color to indicate this
   $Host.UI.RawUI.WindowTitle = $myInvocation.MyCommand.Definition + "(Elevated)"
   $Host.UI.RawUI.BackgroundColor = "DarkBlue"
else {
   # We are not running "as Administrator" - so relaunch as administrator

   # Create a new process object that starts PowerShell
   $newProcess = new-object System.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo "PowerShell";

   # Specify the current script path and name as a parameter
   $newProcess.Arguments = $myInvocation.MyCommand.Definition;

   # Indicate that the process should be elevated
   $newProcess.Verb = "runas";

   # Start the new process

   # Exit from the current, unelevated, process

# Run your code that needs to be elevated here
(new-object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('http://cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe','setup-x86_64.exe')

if (!$?) {
   Write-Host "Something wrong happened when downloading the Cygwin installer."
   Write-Host -NoNewLine "Press any key to continue..."
   $null = $Host.UI.RawUI.ReadKey("NoEcho,IncludeKeyDown")

$p = Start-Process .\setup-x86_64.exe -ArgumentList "--upgrade-also --quiet-mode" -wait -NoNewWindow -PassThru

if ($p.ExitCode -ne 0) {
   Write-Host "Cygwin setup failed with an error!"

Remove-Item .\setup-x86_64.exe

Write-Host -NoNewLine "Press any key to continue..."
$null = $Host.UI.RawUI.ReadKey("NoEcho,IncludeKeyDown")

Create a batch file such as "cygwin-update.bat" with the following contents and put it in your path:

@echo off
"%~dp0\gnubin\wget.exe" --no-check-certificate https://www.cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe -O C:\cygwin64\setup-x86_64.exe
cd /d C:\cygwin64
setup-x86_64.exe -q -g

There seems to be no supported way to do what you try to do.

You could check out MSYS2, a somewhat similar project. It has better development support (msys' cmake supports command line building using MSVC and provides very frequent build tools updates, ie. latest cmake and gcc) but no symlink support (which is faked on cygwin anyways). There you just call pacboy update or use pacman directly. Though, you have a somewhat similar issue with running sessions: if some base system component gets updated, you are asked to immediately terminate the running shell.

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