Notes on Installing Cygwin -

If you have a Windows XP machine and you do not want to repartition your harddrive and configure it for dual-booting and install Linux (or one of the BSD systems) in the 2nd partition, there is another choice: cygwin.

Here we give a simple procedure to install cygwin on Windows XP. You need at least 1GB of free disk space. 2GB would be nice. A more detailed instruction is also available.

Download Cygwin
On cygwin's web page, click on the Install or Update Cygwin (setup.exe) link. Save cygwin's setup.exe on your desktop.

Click on the cygwin setup.exe program on your desktop. Choose Download Without Installing. Select to download onto your desktop. Then select Direction Connection. Then choose a reliable download site to download the complete distribution. In US, I have some luck with and Although I have not tried too many other sites.

After you have selected a download site, you will see a Select Packages page. The first item in the windows should be All, followed by a circular icon with arrows on it, followed by Default. If you click on the circular icon once and wait about 30 seconds (be patient), all the Default on this page will change to Install. You can click on the Next button to download the entire cygwin package. This can take a while. The progress bar will show you how much work is left. After downloading everything, close the cygwin setup.exe application.

Install Cygwin
Click on the cygwin setup.exe program on your desktop again. Choose Install from Local Directory. Do not change the Default Text File Type. Click on the Browse button when it asks for the Local Package Directory. Select the directory where you have downloaded the whole cygwin package. It takes a while to verify that everything you have downloaded have the correct checksum. Then it will bring you to the Select Packages page.

Again, click on the circular icon right next to All once and all the Default will change to Install. Before you click on the Next button, close all other applications and utilities in your system tray (especially any virus checker and even Windows XP's Security Center). If you don't turn these off, cygwin installation may fail. Click on the Next button and it will install everything. This may take over an hour.

After all the packages have been installed, the setup program runs a post-install program which can take quite a while (15 minutes). Be patient and wait for it to finish. If it's been over half an hour since you've seen the post-installation program starts, it may be the case that post-installation has failed.

If cygwin installation fails, you can try to close more applications and repeat the procedure here. If this still cannot work, then you may have to select only the packages that did not install properly in the Select Packages page. I'm not sure if this works and this is beyond the scope of this web page.

Startup Files
Start a command window by clicking on a cygwin icon on your desktop. The icon looks exactly like the cygwin setup icon. It's kind of look like X term, but you are not running X yet. In order to run X, you need the following setup files.

In order to run X Window System, you need an .xinitrc file to startup X. I use fvwm2 as my window manager and it needs a .fvwm2rc configuration file. I also use a .Xdefaults file to setup stuff like colors and locations of windows. Here is what I use:

  • .fvwm2rc
      mouse clicks on desktop background:
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn1 - Utilities menu
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn2 - WindowOps menu
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn3 - WindowList menu
      mouse clicks anywhere:
      • <Meta><Cntrl>Btn1 - Quit-Verify menu
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn1 - WindowOps menu
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn2 - Shells menu
      • <Meta><Shift>Btn3 - Utilities menu
      mouse clicks inside a window:
      • <Meta>Btn1 - RaiseLower window
      • <Meta>Btn2 - Iconify window
      • <Meta><Cntrl>Btn2 - Move window
      • <Meta><Cntrl>Btn3 - Resize window
  • .xinitrc
  • .Xdefaults
After all the above is setup, you can start the X server by entering the following in the cygwin command window:
    xinit -- -fullscreen -emulate3buttons
You can add an alias for the above command in your ~/.bash_profile file. For example, adding the following will alias xs to be the command above to start the X server:
    alias xs="xinit -- -fullscreen -emulate3buttons"
To quit the X server, you can press <Alt><F4> or <Cntrl><Alt><Backspace>. You can also use <Alt><Tab> to switch between X and other Windows applications.

You may also want to set an alias for ssh:

    alias ssh="ssh -X"

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