linux and windows tips, mathematics, and some recipes

Monday, January 09, 2006


By nature, I'm a Linux man. My dalliance with Microsoft ended at Windows 95 after I discovered the beauty and power of Linux and it's command shell. Unfortunately, Linux suffers from poor hardware support, and the purchase of a new laptop in 2005 forced my hand. I couldn't install Ubuntu (Hoary Hedgehog) as the installer didn't recognise my spanking new SATA DVD drive. I managed to install Debian on the system, but found that it didn't properly support some of the newer hardware in my laptop; notably lacking was xv support for the graphics card.

I had a busy time ahead of me and didn't want to waste it recompiling the kernel and patching drivers. Since I knew Windows XP would be able to make best use of the hardware without having to edit a configuration file, I bit the bullet and ditched Linux in favour of the Redmond OS.

Not willing to completely give up on my penguin fix, I looked into Cygwin, a Linux emulator for Windows. In a previous incarnation, I had known Cygwin as a console-based emulator, and had used it to port a Connect4-style game to Windows. However, since 2001, Cygwin has shipped with a port of the X Window System. Essentially, Cygwin allows the user to have a Linux desktop environment running on top of Microsoft Windows.

At the time of writing, there exist beta ports of GNOME 1.4 and KDE up to version 3.1.4. However, I plumped for speed and stability over a fancy desktop and went with fvwm2. This window manager needs a bit of "config file editing", but I had a ready-to-go config file from my University account. A beginner may be better off with WindowMaker, which also comes with Cygwin.

In later articles, I'll write about my experiences configuring Cygwin for LaTeX, sshd, rsync, etc.


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