Monday, June 04, 2012

Get going with Gow (Gnu on Windows)

Matt Harrington - From UNIX to Windows: Run GNU commands on Windows with Gow

"The bulk of my career so far has been spent in the UNIX world on RISC workstations and Linux PCs. When I switched to developing on the Microsoft stack a few years ago, it took a little time to get used to doing things differently from the command line. I thought I’d document some useful tips here in my blog, and this post will be the first in a series. To find related articles, click on the from-unix-to-windows tag at the bottom of this article.

There have been many flavors of UNIX throughout its history, since it dates all the way back to 1970. Let’s just concentrate on Linux for now, strictly speaking a UNIX-like operating system. When we speak about a Linux distribution such as Fedora, we’re actually talking about two things: the Linux kernel and the GNU userland applications. The GNU commands can run on any operating system which has the GNU system libraries, which can be ported as long as POSIX support is available. For example, Nexenta combines the OpenSolaris kernel with GNU userland applications.

In the Windows world, the Cygwin project is a rather comprehensive implementation of lots of what we usually call Linux. However, if all you need are common commands such as grep, curl, gzip, and tar, then take a look at Gow: GNU on Windows. As of version 0.5.0, 133 commands are included:


Gow - The lightweight alternative to Cygwin

Gow (Gnu On Windows) is the lightweight alternative to Cygwin. It uses a convenient Windows installer that installs about 130 extremely useful open source UNIX applications compiled as native win32 binaries. It is designed to be as small as possible, about 10 MB, as opposed to Cygwin which can run well over 100 MB depending upon options.

Features and Benefits

  • Ultra light: Small, light subset (about 10 MB) of very useful UNIX binaries that do not have decent installers (until now!).
  • Shell window from any directory: Adds a Windows Explorer shell window (screenshot) so that you can right-click on any directory and open a command (cmd.exe) window from that directory.
  • Simple install/remove: Easy to install and remove, all files contained in a single directory in a standard C:\Program Files path.
  • Included in PATH: All binaries are conveniently installed into the Windows PATH so they are accessible from a command-line window.
  • Stable binaries: All commands are stable and tested.

Win32 Utilities Overview

Below are just a few of the 130 applications found in Gow.

  • Shell scripting: bash, zsh
  • Compression: gzip, zip, bzip2, compress
  • SSH: putty, psftp, pscp, pageant, plink
  • Download/upload: cURL, wget
  • FTP: NcFTP
  • Editing: vim
  • Text search/view: grep, agrep, less, cat, tail, head
  • File system: mv, cp, du, ls, pwd, rmdir, whereis
  • Development: make, diff, diff3, sleep, cvs, dos2unix, unix2dos


I had missed this when it was mentioned in a comment on this post, With SUA being deprecated in Windows 8, time to look again at other options... (sorry (sa)MAMMON) but I guess better late than never? The latest version (0.5.0) was released 7 months ago, but these are not really the kinds of things that need constant updates (and really 7 months is not that

If your looking for this functionality, and don't want to go the full Cygwin route, then this looks like a great download to have in your utility folder...


Related Past Post XRef:
With SUA being deprecated in Windows 8, time to look again at other options...
“Utilities and SDK for Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications” Updated for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2
Subsytem for Unix (SUA) Utilities and SDK For Windows 2008 and Vista SP1
Windows Services for UNIX 3.5 Downloads

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