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Cygwin - what is this thing? - the first wobbly steps of a Linux noob

[July 27, 2006] 
For some time I have been wanting to learn more about Linux, but I never seem to be able to get that extra hardware together to have a dedicated pc to test on, also my work space is very limited. I do have an extra - and quite new Dell Server available - but I do not fancy sitting in a noisy server room for hours  trying to learn something  about Linux - also I did not want to spend the extra cash to get one of the PC emulators, so as to be able to emulate more motherboards on the same pc.

So... enter the world of cygwin!   .... I think.... as I am a complete noob with this program. I am however looking forward to testing this thing!?

Home of cygwin is: www.cygwin.com  

I suppose cygwin is not exactly Linux, but with access to the source files of whatever runs under Linux, I expect to be able to run most of these programs under cygwin. This is one of my goals anyway.

Setup and maintenance of cygwin seems wonderfully simple.
1) Click the setup icon   and run the program.
At a later time you can download the setup.exe program and store it locally, like in the folder that is pointed to in step 5 of this blog.
2)  I have chosen "Install from the Internet"
3) Next you choose a folder where the system/programs are to be run from
I install all my programs on P: drive, this keeps my windows partition small and easier to ghost (partition backup) so I will run this program from P:\cygwin
You could also choose c:\cygwin or c:\linux\cygwin or..... your choice
4) The you point to a storage space where all the "packages" will be installed.
cygwin calls this Local Package Directory.
I use R:\download\internet\cygwin as I keep all my downloads on a separate partition. This makes all the other partitions I use more manageable. You can read a bit more about  my windows setup here  
5) "Connection to the internet". I have a local network in the apartment, and its connected to an ADSL line by a router, so here I choose "Direct connection"
6) All the installable packages/modules are placed on servers around the world, for easy download, choose one close to you.
7) The first file being downloaded is the list of packages/modules/programs (setup.bz2) that are available under cygwin.
Next you will be shown this list. 
8) You are shown the list of packages/modules/programs. I started out with only instaling all the defaults.

This gives you a Linux like command prompt - or as it is called under cygwin: a bash! Or what was known in the DOS days as: the DOS screen.

Not a lot of fun or very entertaining, when you are used to windows and the graphical user interface, so I'll make haste and install KDE and X, two graphical user interfaces that run under Linux and have been ported to cygwin.

Installing more of the cygwin modules.
1) click the cygwin install program icon again, or activate setup.exe from your storage directory.
2) clik next on every setup screen until you reach the list of modules
3) From the list,  find KDE and click the icon until it says "install" 
4) At the end of the list at X click the icon until it says "install" 

You should now have a new entry in your windows start menu under programs, called "cygwin-X"

I'll now explore how X runs under cygwin. Mind you this will be the first time ever I try out X
From what I have read, it seems like X has two components, a server component and a client component. Both can run on the same pc, or the server can run on one pc, like o a powerful unit, and the client can run on some old or small pc. Many clients can be connected to one server.
I'll tell you more when I know more!

[July 27, 2006 - part 2] 
Well, clicking any of the X icons seems to give me... nothing!
So on to the x.cygwin.com  site and read the documentation. Aha! a batch file called startxwin.bat needs to be activated. This is said to be located at /usr/X11R6/bin/startxwin.bat
Looking at my drive (P:) I now have a whole range of new folders under cygwin:
All right!!! now I see all the folders I have seen so often looking at Linux manuals. The BIN, the USR folder and more. GREAT! this is exactly what I wanted to get more familiar with.
And in the USR folder there is the startxwin.bat file.
The startxwin.bat  now has a shortcut in my startmenu.
And its started.....and the firewall tells me that xwin is listening on all ports.
Here is a picture of a few Xwindows running - on my windowsXP machine.
There is the terminal program and an editor, a calculator and a graphics demo program.
This experience gives me some peace of mind, as I now hope to be able to have better remote control options of a dedicated Linux PC. 
A dedicated Server PC have been waiting for a couple of months in the server room in the basement of our building association, but I have been reluctant to install anything on it, as I do NOT want to spend hours and hours sitting in a noise server room, trying to learn more about Linux. And as I have already mentioned, I also have to little room around my work desk.
Yes, this is a good feeling for a few hours of work - getting to grips with some cygwin - and some Linux stuff.