Windows for Unixians

In some cases Unixians may have to work on Windows environment. This document gives the hints and tips I use when I have to work on Windows. I’m actually using Windows XP but most of the document should be applicable to other Windows versions.


The first thing to do is certainly to install Cygwin, which will give you a shell (bash, zsh, etc.) and a great bundle of free software, such as gcc, emacs, make, cvs, ssh, etc.

Mingw / msys

Whereas Cygwin emulates an Unix, the Mingw project aims at compiling software under Windows to create native Win32 apps. Thus, mingw software run much faster. The msys package comes with rxvt, which is quite better than the Command window Cygwin uses.

Shell Enhancer

This soft provides a lot a features to enhance Windows look and feel, among which, the ability to move and resize windows with Alt + Left Button and Alt + Right button, like in X-window!


Emacs Win32 binaries are available. You should generally take the fullbin-i386 tarball.

Microsoft PowerToys

Microsoft provides several free tools, such as virtual desktops and tweakui to gain access to more advanced configuration options.