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As a Windows user, have you ever gotten jealous of the sheer amount of stuff that comes with a Linux distribution? Compilers for a dozen languages, debuggers, text editors, drawing tools, web servers, databases, publishing tools…the list goes on and on. You can have all that on top of Windows,[49] too—thanks to Cygwin.

Cygwin is a combination of several things:

  • A Linux API emulation layer, allowing you to compile and run all those cool Linux programs.

  • A collection of all those really great Unix-like tools.

  • An installer/program manager for keeping the whole thing up-to-date.

First, download the Cygwin installer from This is more than just an installer: it is a complete package management system. Even after you install Cygwin, you should keep this around; you will need it to install, update, and remove packages in the future. The installer you download is very small (about 300k), but that is just the tip of the iceberg—it will download a lot of stuff, potentially hundreds of megabytes depending on what options you decide to install (you won’t need to install that much to run the examples in the book). For the bandwidth-impaired, you can purchase install CDs for a minimal fee.


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