Cygwin is a software package that provides a Linux environment for computers running a Microsoft Windows operating system.
The main benefit of this software is that makes the popular GNU development tools available on MS Windows platforms. It also compensates for one of the main weaknesses of MS Windows OSs, which is the lack of powerful scripting functionality.
A cygwin installation creates the standard Linux directories, like bin, dev, etc, home, lib, tmp, usr, and var. There is also a cygdrive folder. Most of the commonly used Linux tools can be found under the bin directory.
You can start up a bash shell by double clicking the Cygwin icon that was placed on your Windows desktop. From there you can use the standard Linux commands, such as ls, ps, top, grep, awk, chmod, etc. and run shell scripts or Perl scripts.
Other ways to combine Linux and Windows include:
- Wubi, an installation of Ubuntu Linux as a Windows program
- Portable Ubuntu which is based on cygwin
- Wine, which enables Windows programs inside Linux, and
- Virtual Box, which can be used to run Windows inside Linux and vice versa