I have been using CygWin for a few weeks, and I love it.
Now I have found CygWin Ports and, even after reading its main page, I am not sure about the differences:

  • Is CygWin Ports a collection of packages valids for my classical CygWin installation?
  • Why does de website says Use the latest Cygwin installers (at least version 2.829)? There is no such version.
  • What happens when a package conflicts (is in the CygWin repositories too)? Which one should I install?
  • Is it possible to download the CygWin Ports packages and manage them from local, just in the same way as I do with the pre-downloaded packages of the classical CygWin?
  • Will any addition to CygWin, for example SUDO for CygWin, work too with my installed packages of CygWin Ports?

Any other concise detail about the main difference(s) is welcome.

  • Cygwin Ports includes "the GNOME, KDE, LXDE, MATE, ROX, Xfce, and Sugar desktop environments". Cygwin does not include these. It only provides the X server that those. – Dan D. Mar 31 '14 at 2:20
  • Cygwin Ports is a repository of software built on top of, and in addition to, those in the main Cygwin repository.
  • The version of the installers refers to the version displayed on the first page of the installer (e.g. Setup.exe version 2.844 (64 bit)); the latest version from http://cygwin.com is always recommended, but (currently) at least version 2.829 is absolutely required.
  • There are only a handful of conflicting packages; in each case, the Ports version is recommended over the standard distribution version.
  • Ports packages are downloaded with the same installer (albeit with specific installation directions) as the core distribution, so the same three options of Install from Internet, Download Without Installing, or Install from Local Directory are all available.
  • Any other software using dependencies from Ports should operate correctly, provided it does not attempt to conflict with Ports' packages. If you have specific issues, please provide details of your issue to the Cygwin Ports mailing list.
  • Thanks, @Yaakov. I was wrong because, according to cygwin.com : «The most recent version of the Cygwin DLL is 1.7.28», and this is not the version of the installer. The installer does not include a --version parameter, so the only way seems to execute it and look at the first windows that the installation program opens. – Sopalajo de Arrierez Mar 31 '14 at 14:17
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    I was wondering why there is cygwin ports? Is the main package distribution more strict? Why not roll everything from ports into the main distribution? – CMCDragonkai Apr 4 '15 at 13:40
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    The reasons are mostly historical; I have been migrating eligible packages from ports to distro bit by bit. – Yaakov Apr 13 '15 at 14:58

Cygwin ports USED to provide a great deal of software not included in the Cygwin repo. However, the guy doing all the packaging, etc. for Cygwin Ports has moved all compatible/reasonably ported software into the main Cygwin repo, which he is maintaining (thousands of software titles) with little help.

There is a queue of harder-to-impossible to port packages waiting for him to have a few spare cycles to work on, but these are increasingly either not used/ not helpful/harder to port packages.

You can build a lot of software not included from source. In addition, they have ported Perl, Python, R, Ruby, and several others, so anything where you have dependencies you can probably get to work on your own, although my best results have been from C/C++ console mode apps. Just read the documentation and make sure you have the dependencies. Some are funky (e.g. need a Windows DLL installed), YMMV.

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