Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Making Windows Usable for Old Linux Farts

Making Windows Usable for Old Linux Farts

At my new job, this article turned out to be a huge help. Everyone around here runs windows on their machines, and right now all I have is a laptop. I was a little hesitent about putting Linux on my laptop -- afterall, I'd be getting things like Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint documents sent to me. But, after playing with Windows I quickly learned how much I miss emacs and gnus.

This article points out how you can set things up so that you pretty much feel like your on a unix box. I'm reading my mail in gnus, and typing away at the command line like the good 'ol days.

While most of the tips in this article are pretty intuitive - there was one that I really thought was useful. The bash cygwin terminal is nice -- but when it comes down to it, it still feels like an old, crummy dos box. For example, the cut and past handling is this rectangle business. And don't even get me started on this in-ability to resize the windows. Anyway, the article suggested something brilliant: run sshd on your laptop, and then use putty to connect to. Putty's screen handling is wonderful. You really do get the feeling that you are using a unix box.


  1. I've always run Windows as my primary OS, but have always been into commandline tools and scripting, so cygwin is a big part of my development environment. Check out my geek blog at: - I post batch files, shell scripts, tips and tricks from time to time, particularly involving integrating cygwin with other tools.

    I hadn't seen this article you posted, but it has a lot of new and useful information, so thanks for sharing it!

  2. Yeah, Amazing Media is no more. But, so far I'm really enjoying the new job. The people are great, though I have yet to try to see them on Scheme ;-).

    My quest to get my windows box to act more like a Linux box took a big step forward when I installed X windows on Windows (See:

    I'm amazed, I can run xterms, emacs (in X mode), imagemagick stuff, etc.

    I also managed to get gnus to read my e-mail the way I want it.

    Now the next challange is going to be figure out how to actually code in that environment. So far, I'm planning to use emacs -- but I may have to try eclipse.

    Dave -- thanks for the reminder about your blog. I've been following, and see plenty of nifty windows ideas on it. Though, up to now I haven't really needed them...Glad you are on the case.

  3. You found a version of screen that works?? That's excellent news.

    I googled for screen fairly early on, and found one article saying that it couldn't be done on cygwin.

    It's occasionally very nice to be proven wrong.

  4. Anonymous9:13 AM

    If you don't want to use the Windows Command Prompt for cygwin, install rxvt instead.

    I did and replaced the line in cygwin.bat that says "bash --login -i" with:

    c:\cygwin\bin\rxvt.exe -geometry 130x45 -bg "#000000" -fg "#FFFFFF" -sr -sl 35565 -fn "Bitstream Vera Sans Mono-13" -e bash --login -i

    Opens up a nice window without having to setup sshd (although I do have that as well!)

  5. Thanks for the tip! Rxvt is such an improvement over the basic DOS box.

    There's more info on this suggestion here