Mintty to the rescue


I am stuck on a Win7 machine at work. I used to run Linux on it but then the company changed their VPN to this Windows and sorta-Mac supported only solution. I had to dump the penguin so I could have access outside the office, kinda important that. So yeah, other than my world passing me by at half the normal pace there is little difference, oh wait no, that’s completely inaccurate. The thing I miss above all else is the command line. I tried to replace it with the Windows Powershell but I seriously didn’t feel like learning everything from scratch, I did give it a concerted try though.

Just for comparison, take all the nifty bash/zsh commands you love and enjoy on a daily basis, now rename all of them, and don’t get cute by naming them something easy to remember. No, use something long, and make sure there are plenty of hyphens. Now take all the options you were used to passing to those commands and rename them too, almost there hang with me. Now close your eyes and just mash your head against the keyboard to get a rough idea of what it feels like to replace the Linux command line with Powershell.

Well I did what any self respecting Linux lover would do when relegated to Win-land, I installed Cygwin. Yes, that bastardization of *nix on a Windows shell. Or something, I couldn’t come up with anything snarky there. Regardless, running Cygwin offers a glimpse of home without actually letting you get there. It’s slow sure, but it offers enough familiarity that I actually enjoy using it over the endless point and click of a standard Windows user experience. The standard cygwin command line is terrible, running RXVT native makes it manageable. However, I just found Mintty! It’s sort of like Putty (based on some Putty code I gather) and with the proper amount of tweaking can actually result in a likeable experience. Couple that with screen and I hardly miss Linux…who am I kidding, I still go home at night and just poke around my laptop (running Xubuntu) just to feel better about myself.

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  1. #1 by Tom on March 7, 2013 - 9:02 pm

    I have to use Windoze for work as well, but I run it in a VM on Fedora XFCE (I’ve also used Ubuntu and Kubuntu.) I also have to use a VPN for work, and running it in the VM works fine. I’ve used both VirtualBox and VMware – the biggest issue with either option is video support.

    As for Linux commands on Windoze, I do two things: Locate32 is a file search tool that comes with a DOS “locate” command that works similar to the Linux version. Combine that with either UnxTools or GnuWin32, and you get grep, less, wc, locate and more, all in Windoze.

  2. #2 by jeffro on March 16, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    @Tom

    I was wondering the VPN would work with Windows running in a VM. The problem for me is the process our company makes everyone jump through to get VPN certs, almost more work than it is worth.

    I got a surprise last week when my manager got me a MacBook Pro. I am still getting used to it but the native command line is like coming home. I’ve still managed to crash it twice since I got it though, so the legendary stability of OSX is overstated slightly IMO.

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