Running Unix Commands on Windows


Many often wonder if it is possible to execute unix commands on a windows platform. With just the windows platform it is not possible. A third-party tool will need to be installed to provide one with the capability to emulate a unix platform on windows. The tool is “cygwin”, available at www.cygwin.com. Cygwin is a unix emulator designed to be installed much like a windows program, and provides a lot of the functionality one would find on a traditional unix operating system. It even comes with a command line prompt.

In interacting with the command line shell you will notice a lot of similarities to unix, and some differences. Notice our output from the “df” command:

$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
C:\cygwin\bin         223G  106G  118G  48% /usr/bin
C:\cygwin\lib         223G  106G  118G  48% /usr/lib
C:\cygwin             223G  106G  118G  48% /
c:                    223G  106G  118G  48% /cygdrive/c

All of your windows files can be accessed by /cygdrive/c, since this is where the windows partition is mounted.

Another nice feature of cygwin is that it has the vi and emacs editor, an absolute must for unix’ers.

Cygwin provides an easy emulated unix environments to a windows platform, and is well worth the install.