[GTALUG] Unix on Windows -- VirtualBox, BusyBox, Cygwin

William Park opengeometry at yahoo.ca
Thu Jan 7 10:04:53 UTC 2016

Something I (re)discovered recently...

Windows is unavoidable at work.  So, you're working on Windows machine, but you need your favourite Unix tools and utilities to process some file.  What do you do?  So far, I found 3 solutions:

1. VirtualBox -- virtualbox.org

Keep VirtualBox running minimized, with shared folder enabled.  Then, bring it up whenever you need it.  This is what I usually do, because VirtualBox is needed for other things.  But, this only works on your desktop.  If you have to move around to many machines, then this may not be ideal, because even though you can put VMs on USB stick, you need to install VirtualBox on those machines. 

2. BusyBox (for Windows) -- frippery.org/busybox/

It's single binary, and it's ideal for USB stick.  You get all the programs that BusyBox comes with.  But, sometimes, you need a full set of options that you're familiar with.

3. Cygwin -- cygwin.com

It's single directory which you can put on USB stick.  That directory becomes your root filesystem, but you can access other drives through /cygdrive which acts like /mnt.  This is my recent (re)discovery.  I knew about it, but totally forgot.


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