Cygwin Book?

Christopher Faylor
Mon Oct 15 16:22:00 GMT 2007

On Mon, Oct 15, 2007 at 05:29:03AM -0600, Warren Young wrote:
> Christopher Faylor wrote:
>>I have gotten periodic requests to write a cygwin group from various
>>publishers but it has always seemed like a daunting task to me.
>The trick is in deciding what to cover.

Yes, exactly.

>It seems to me that just getting Cygwin installed could be stretched to
>maybe fill a chapter.  The hardest part is just finding the packages
>you need in the tree, and because you can do it iteratively, it doesn't
>come to much of a practical problem.  If I were writing it, I'd
>probably make this Appendix A, not Chapter 1.
>You could fill a book with chapters that are basically "how to use
>Linux on Windows", but really, aren't 99% of Cygwin users *ix
>transplants anyway?  Everyone knows how to use the tools, which is why
>they've sought out Cygwin in the first place.  I guess there are a few
>who get Cygwin foist upon them as a prerequisite for something else --
>some embedded systems compilers are like this, for instance -- but I'd
>bet this is a tiny minority of users.

It seems like more and more people are using Cygwin because they want a
package that is part of the distribution.  We get too many ignorant
questions for me to think that many of these people are at all familiar
with *IX systems.

>I point all this out because I think I know what would be the most
>useful book, and you, cgf, are indeed one of the few people who can do
>it justice: a book on how Cygwin works and why it is the way it is.
>Not just cygwin1.dll internals, but how setup.exe packages work, the
>way various POSIX features are distorted by the Windows lens (symlinks,
>mounts, IPC, fork, PIDs, permissions...), etc.
>The Cygwin story is one of compromises, accommodations, and probably
>even some outright hackery.  This is the story that those of us who
>wish to understand Cygwin need to read.

Actually, this is a book that I wouldn't mind writing (assuming I could
get Corinna's help).  I don't know how many people would be interested
in this though.

Writing a book with screen shots of setup.exe and instructions about
hitting "Next" is not something that I relish.  It may be what people
really need though.

Whenever I think about doing that, I always think about how many
problems people have with the concept of setup.exe and then I start
thinking that we should redesign the GUI and provide a command-line
utility.  Then I get discouraged and just fire up Unreal Tournament 2004
to forget about things.

I guess my point is that I'd hate to document the warts in Cygwin when
the most profitable use of time would be to fix the warts.  But I guess
that doesn't really matter since these days, I'm not doing much
documenting or fixing.  I've been focused on my "real job" for a couple
of years now while Corinna does the heavy Cygwin lifting.


More information about the Cygwin-talk mailing list