Many times we have to use some programs that are not really meant for Windows, but are designed exclusively keeping Linux users in mind. For such programs, you can either install any flavor of Linux like Ubuntu, Mint etc., or you can install Cygwin in your Windows PC. Cygwin is the closest experience of Linux that you can have in your PC without actually installing any type of Linux on your computer. It has a large collection of open source programs that are ported for Windows to give a Linux like functionality for Windows users. Unfortunately, Cygwin offers online a web based installer, i.e., you have to download the different packages every time you choose to install it on your PC. But you can still manage to have your own packages repository to be used as many times as you want for any later times. Here is how:
- Create a folder on your hard disk for storing the Cygwin repository. For example, I have created E:\Cygwin.
- Download the Cygwin installer from the Cygwin website and save it in the same folder you just created. There are 32-bit and 64-bit installers for Cygwin, so you should choose appropriately. In my case, I have downloaded the setup-x86.exe because I have 32-bit Windows.
- Launch the downloaded Cygwin installer and choose the option Download without installing when it asks and then click on the Next button.
- Choose the Local Package Directory to be same folder that you created earlier in the step 1 above and proceed by clicking on the Next button.
- Choose one of the mirrors from the list to download the packages from. I prefer the kernel.org server myself, as it always works and has the latest version of Cygwin packages ready for download.
- When it comes to selecting the packages, you can change the Default to Install for All packages as shown in the following picture. You can also choose any other special packages not selected by default, for example, the “ncurses” packages.
- It will take some time to download all of the selected packages. In the meanwhile, you can go out and take a breath of fresh air or have a cup of hot coffee that you were waiting for since the morning.
- When download is finished, close the Cygwin setup window and relaunch the setup all over again. This time, you can choose to Install from the local directory and then select the package folder that you create in step 1 above. All the packages shall be installed from your hard disk instead from the internet.
By choosing to download and save the packages from the Cygwin repositories on the internet, you can create your own local repository for offline use. But this local repository has a single drawback – it will not be updated unless you make the effort to keep it updated.