For those of you familiar with Cygwin and its packaging system/installer, you will know that the installer distributed from cygwin.com comes with the basic skeleton software as well as a tool that uses direct connect / local package / ftp connection for downloading packages.

This package manager is frankly ugly and bloated. I have always found it to be a pain locating the few essential pieces of software that I commonly use on my linux systems. (Such as zip, unzip, tar, git, openssh, svn, wget, python, vim etc...) Frankly I love the software and use it on all of my machines, but I hate going through the annoying installation method. (I also hate having to choose a miror from a built in list with little information about the hosts.)

Does anyone know if these is an easier installer available for the basic cygwin user, or if there is a git repository somewhere that I can clone and install with a script or something?

I have been coming across this issue on several of my workstations, and I have found little on Google related to my desire. It is likely that nothing like this exists, but I figured that if it did, someone here might know of it.

Thanks in advance.

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  • From what I can remember. You can install it once then zip up the instillation. You will then have to do some mounts (this is the only bit that touches outside of the install directory, it touches the registry). – ctrl-alt-delor May 29 '15 at 11:48
  • Another solution is to install virtual-box, then to put a full posix system in the virtual box, such as a Gnu/Linux. I now use Debian. – ctrl-alt-delor May 29 '15 at 11:49

I don't know any easy installer for cygwin, but if you always uses the same packages on every machines you use, then what you could do, is to make your basic installation with your favorite packages once on one computer through the setup. tar.gz it, back it up, and untar it on every computer you need. You may only need to modify the cygwin.bat to initialize your home directory, .bashrc, etc ...

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  • Thanks, I am going to try this on my home machine tonight and try to bring it all in tomorrow. – Joseph DeVictoria May 27 '15 at 15:26

The installer can download the selected packages to your disk without installing them. This is useful for more than one reason:

  • the target system may not be where it can access the Internet directly
  • making a snapshot of the whole repository helps to recover from the occasional package breakage (call it a "personal release").

I do this rather than tar up an installed copy of Cygwin because the greatest nuisance lies in making a predictable, runnable version of it. Moving it is not simply a case of tweaking the cygwin.bat file; there are mount mounts to reconstruct, and when moving to a different machine you likely have to reconstruct /etc/passwd and /etc/group. These operations can be scripted (if you do them often often to warrant the effort):

The last (which makes a dismissive comment about updates) reintroduces the reason for making a local repository: if you do not copy the whole tree in a manner that permits use of the package information, it is harder to update it properly. Developers (in contrast to end-users) routinely update their systems. If your intended use is short-term, non-development, then updates are less interesting. In that case, an end-user oriented package such as MobaXterm may be a better choice.

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  • Thanks, I am going to try this on my home machine tonight and try to bring it all in tomorrow. – Joseph DeVictoria May 27 '15 at 15:26

The project Swan is a pre-configured Cygwin distribution that has an easy installer and its own command-line package manager. It has sensible defaults, and can host X apps. zip, unzip, tar, git, openssh, wget, python and Xfce are some of the included packages.

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