Cygwin was: Re: Linux without sighted help

Tony Baechler tony at
Mon Feb 4 15:42:40 UTC 2008


You made some rather offensive comments here which should have been 
taken off list.  This is clearly off topic and will be my only response 
on this subject here.  I have changed the subject.  My intention was not 
to offend you and I'm sorry if you feel offended, but I don't appreciate 
you making incorrect assumptions.  Since you responded on a public list, 
I will do likewise but this will be my last response.

Lee Maschmeyer wrote:
> If I remember correctly, Tony is running a version of Cygwin which is 
> several years out of date. Statements about what it won't do should 
> probably be taken in context.

This is no longer correct.  I completely reinstalled from scratch last 
July.  Most software is newer than what I have on Debian Etch.  I gave 
it a dedicated directory to avoid conflicts.  As it turned out, the 
older version was far more stable and worked better, both under XP and 

> Obviously there are things that absolutely won't compile; there are 
> also things that absolutely will. One can throw out the baby with the 
> bath water; I prefer to keep the baby for what the baby is worth, not 
> expecting it to turn into a non-baby. For a beginner who won't jump 
> right into compiling kernels the first day, Cygwin is a good learning 
> tool, and for the things it works with it's a good use tool also. The 
> concept is obviously not deemed valueless by its developers since 
> multiple updates per week generally occur, most of them from generic 
> sources.

I would not say that it's a good beginner tool because knowledge of 
*nix, bash, etc is expected.  Look at the docs for proof of this.  I 
agree that many things do compile but very few will compile out of the 
box without patches.  Again, the proof is in the docs.  Also, using a 
seof console apps under XP with a Windows screen reader clearly not 
designed for the purpose is not a good example of true Linux access and 
will probably result in frustration for said beginner.  I gave up on it 
for years because of this very issue.  On the other hand, it isn't 
intended for compiling kernels and more developers are supporting it 
natively without said patches.  Again, those same developers are moving 
to MinGW instead which uses the native win32 API and not the Cygwin dll.

> Brltty worked on Cygwin long before it worked on DOS, and the DOS 
> version still isn't really ready for prime time. (Samuel or Dave, 
> please correct me if this is no longer true.)

I don't use this program so I can't comment.  All I know is that it 
apparently compiles under djgpp which is DOS only and predates Cygwin by 
many years.

> Bottom line: Tony doesn't like it; I do. Pay your money (free!) and 
> take your choice.
This is the assumption that I don't appreciate.  I said several times on 
this list that I do like it and I use it every day.  It is the best ssh 
implementation I've found so far.  I use Lynx almost every day.  I tried 
Screen as you suggested but it crashed the command prompt window.  As it 
turns out, I don't know that I need C-Kermit either, but if you look at 
the mailing list archives with Google, you'll see that I'm not the only 
one with frustration that it won't compile.  There was a CP/M version 
for gosh sakes!  It has every BSD and Linux configuration imaginable in 
the Makefile.  There is no reason why it shouldn't compile out of the 
box on Cygwin.  In conclusion, yes, I do like Cygwin which is why I've 
used it since 2003.  I just disagree that it's not a good beginner tool 
and it has many shortcomings.  It's far from a Linux/BSD emulation and 
there are many things that won't run or aren't the same.  Another thing 
that was not addressed is that, even on a fast XP machine, Cygwin is far 
slower than a slow Linux machine.  I know from experience.  I would say 
that for any serious tasks, Cygwin is painfully slow.  I've literally 
waited over 24 hours for it to process some xml files trying to convert 
to text, less than 100 MB in size.

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