Downloads You Need (UNIX tools for Windows)








   First, go get CygWin, a port of the GNU tools (your old friends grep, diff, gcc, etc.).

You probably want an X server. X-Win32 is great (really good integration with Windows), but it's not free ($60 for students, $150 for faculty and staff). A more-than-acceptable free alternative is Cygwin/XFree86, which now can be installed with Cygwin.

Activate filename and directory completion for the command prompt. Now you can type a partial name and tab to cycle through completions.

For even more useful tweaks to the Windows UI, try Microsoft's own TweakUI tool. You can even get focus to follow the mouse, just like in X!

You'll need WinZip, a shareware ZIP file extractor (yes, it's self-extracting!), or 7-Zip, a free alternative with similar functionality.

Replace the lame Windows telnet client with puTTY, which is vastly superior.

Run this excellent port & improvement of emacs, XEmacs.

Here's a ready-made build of LaTeX and friends called MikTeX.

And haven't you always wanted to be able to put LaTeX formulas in your PowerPoint presentations? Thanks to George Necula's TeXPoint package, now you can. Truly amazing stuff.

You'll also probably want to be able to view PostScript files so here's GhostScript and the GhostView viewer.

Another cool tool that has nothing to do with Unix per se but that I find useful is CutePDF, a printer driver for Windows that lets you generate PDF files with ease. In my experience, it's more robust and produces better results than Adobe Acrobat...

Excel finally handles more than 65,536 lines of data! But you may still want the conveniently scriptable GNUplot (actually a pretty good port).

If what you want to do is to actually run Linux on your Windows box, there's a great way to do so: CoLinux. It's free, open-source, and runs Linux natively on your hardware (as opposed to VMWare's approach). It's amazing and convenient. A nice companion to CoLinux is the NX terminal server, which is MUCH faster than X.

Other links: Native ports of UNIX utilities to Windows (i.e., no need for Cygwin).

Got any other must-haves? Drop me a line at

NIX: UNIX tools for Windows | Emery Berger | August 2010