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RE: PATH and HOME in cygwin

I think the point that I'm making is that you have a good understanding
of Unix/Linux (as I'd like to think I have).  In my last 10 years (note,
I have been using Unix for almost 25 years), I've had to work with
people who need Linux for their job but have absolutely no knowledge of
anything Unixy.  The concept of a man page is completely foreign to
them, not to mention command-line.  They don't know there is a "FILES"
section that is on line 5061 of the man page.  They don't even know to
look for one.

See below for other comments...

Chris Carlson
iStor Networks, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Thorsten Kampe [] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 4:45 PM
Subject: Re: PATH and HOME in cygwin

* Chris Carlson (2004-06-02 21:47 +0100)
> I understand your frustration, but your experience is not everyone's.


[Wow!  I hate having to use a junky editor like M$ Word to respond to
text-only e-mails!]

Your tone in the e-mail sounded like you were frustrated.  It came
across as condescending and critical.

> So far, I've installed cygwin on 7 different machines.  One Windows
> two Windows XP and at least 4 Windows 2000 systems.  Of the seven, all
> were installed from the Internet, all were done at different points in
> Cygwin's development, all were clean installs (no previous version of
> Cygwin existed) and NONE of them have an /etc/profile file.

This is the reason of your missing path and $HOME.

> All have an /etc/profile.d directory.  None have gone through the
> postinstall scripts without at least one of them hanging.  Only
> after some time have I gotten man to work.

So your experience is absolutely contrary to mine. I still don't see
your point.
True.  I'm just pointing out that your experience installing Cygwin may
not be everyone's.  I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, and I don't
have the time to spend trying to figure it out.

In the documentation, it indicates the /cygwin.bat file sets environment
variables ["A .bat file is provided where the most important ones are
set before bash in launched."].  My /cygwin.bat file contains the

@echo off

chdir C:\cygwin\bin

bash --login -i

Documentation doesn't always fill in the void, especially when a user is
a beginner.

> It is clear the Mr. Fay doesn't understand bash well.  He obviously
> doesn't know the purpose of /etc/skel.

/etc/skel isn't bash related.

In an indirect way, it is.  The files under this directory are used to
set up initial .bashrc (and other files) for new user accounts.  It
makes sense that someone who doesn't know Unix might think these have
some significance in how bash starts up.

> He may not understand man.  If he's just doing a man command,
> there's a lot of information that gets scrolled by.  It takes a
> dozen or more readings before you understand it all, presuming
> you've never used a Unix shell before.

The short "files" section at the bottom isn't hard to grasp. Every
utility that uses initialisation files has a files section at the
bottom of the man page.

As I said before, non-Unix people don't even know to look here.
> I had to set PATH and HOME in my Windows environment to get them to be
> set properly in Cygwin.  I would think telling Mr. Fay that he needs
> set them in the Windows environment would have been a much more useful
> reply.

*I* set $HOME "in Windows" (because I want other non-Cygwin
applications (BlackAdder, GVim etc) to look for rcfiles there. Mr. Fay
doesn't have any problems with his path or $HOME (at least he doesn't
mention any). So it's absolutely unneccessary to modify or set these

> Suggesting the reading of a book on shells wouldn't be quite
> useful either, since Cygwin does things just a little differently.

The differences are so minor that a non-expert would hardly notice

You must not work with a bunch of Windows-only people.  I spend half my
time trying to explain how things work, what files are automatically
read, etc. to the people at this office.

> A pointer to the Cygwin document might have helped.  I'm still looking
> it.

Anyone able to type "" in to the address field of a browser
should be able to find the FAQ and the user guide.

Anyone that has all day to wander all the FAQs and all the documentation
for a simple answer.  I've watched people here try to navigate and other "documentation" sites, and I learned just how
difficult it is for a Windows user to figure out what to look for.

Mr.	 Fay has just one problem: /etc/bashrc isn't read. Why he asks.
And my answer was: because it's not a bash file (as you can see at the
bottom of the manpage.

I'm just suggesting that we show a little patience to people who may not
be as well versed in Unix as you are.  It is the impatient,
condescending tone that gives new Linux users a bad taste for the OS.  I
want Linux to crush M$ (at least to the point that they are on equal
footing in the market).  Chasing off new users is not going to encourage

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