How to Install Cygwin

Cygwin is an awesome tool that allows you to access a Linux-like environment from within Windows, you get access to almost all the same binaries as a normal Linux install but without having to run a full-fledged Linux distribution, this can be very handy for when you either just want to learn one particular tool or make use of one particular program.

The best thing is that Cygwin is also really easy to install and use so even if you are a total Linux newbie there is no excuse not to give it a go.

Installing Cygwin is as simple as this:

  1. Download the latest release from (or download the setup.exe directly).
  2. Run the setup.exe installer.
  3. In most cases tell it to download packages via the Internet and install to the default location (c:\cygwin), for all users.
  4. When asked to select a Local Package Store, change this so it points to a folder in your Cygwin installation directory, c:\cygwin\packagestore would be one example.
  5. Cygwin will now download a list of available download mirrors, select one from the list that is near to your location to ensure fast download speeds.
  6. Cygwin will download a list of available packages and then load the Package Manager.
  7. If you are just wanting to try out Cygwin then you can click next and it will install a set of default packages, these are common programs that are on all Linux based systems and should allow you to do most basic tasks.
  8. If you are wanting to install any additional packages then you can either add them here now or run the setup.exe at any time to add or update packages later. For example if we wanted to install OpenSSL the easiest way to find it is to use the search box at the top which gives us results like this:Installing OpenSSL
  9. As you can see the search found three results for OpenSSL, we can ignore the results in the devel and libs categories however as we are not developing anything using OpenSSL nor are wanting just the library files to be installed, we want the full OpenSSL environment.
  10. To select what to install simply click on icon next to where it says “Skip”, you should see this change to show a version number, this is the version of OpenSSL that will be installed, you should also see a small box with a cross in it appear under the “B” column, this tells us that it will install the binary file which lets us run the program (if we select the “S” column too then this installs all the source files which are only really needed if you are developing software).
  11. Select Next to start the install process, this will download all the desired packages and install them to your Cygwin install folder (c:\cygwin in most cases), depending on the number of packages you chose to install and the speed of your internet connection this could take a while.
  12. Once the Installation has completed you can access Cygwin by either using the shortcut on your desktop or by using the cygwin.bat file inside the installation folder, a Cygwin command prompt looks like this:Cygwin Command Prompt
  13. Finally, copy the setup.exe file into the Cygwin install folder, this will allow you run the process again and either add new packages or update or remove existing packages.

You should now be able to use Cygwin to give you a Linux-like environment you can use for learning or making use of the many Linux tools that are available!


Im a Sys-Admin for a growing UK company working down on the sunny South Coast of England, I love all things techie, especially Exchange and Virtualisation stuff. When not tinkering I can normally be found playing online games such as Planetside 2, Dayz and Battlefield 4.