Win-Win with Cygwin

Creating a Multisystem Install Point

A multisystem install point, as I call it, is a Cygwin installation that you install on a network drive so that multiple Windows systems can map a drive to it and use the applications and utilities from that location. Cygwin does not need to be installed locally to work well because the installation makes no changes to the system folders, nor does it add any files to system folders. All Cygwin files reside under the Cygwin directory tree.

To install to a network drive, create a new share on your network storage or file server and map a drive to that location – I’ll call it drive X: . Direct the Cygwin installation wizard to install Cygwin under the X:\Cygwin folder and use X:\Temp for the installation source folder.

Performing a complete installation is convenient so you have every possible application and executable available for your work. When the wizard displays the categories list, click All (at the top of the Window) until it reads Install . This will change each of the categories to Install as well. A complete installation might take an hour or more to perform.

Once installed in this network location, you can map a drive from any system with access to it. You can add X:\Cygwin\bin permanently to the PATH environment variable by editing the system PATH. You can add temporary access by issuing


at an administrator CMD prompt. Although it’s a bit cumbersome to do so, you can also use a NetBIOS-style path, such as \\system\share\cygwin\bin\ to each command you issue. For example:


Any system on which you might use Cygwin regularly should have a permanent (persistent) drive mapping created to the network share and have its PATH variable altered.


What Cygwin does for you, as a Windows administrator, is provide a consistent set of scripting tools like those you’ll find on *nix systems. It also presents you with a basic level of compatibility between two very different platforms. Cygwin transforms your Windows servers and workstations into advanced hybrid operating systems. Cygwin gives Windows administrators the tools and utilities needed to interact effectively with other data center operating systems.

For more information, read Cygwin’s FAQ and documentation. Also consult *nix man pages for any command-related questions.

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