So I’ve been liking msys2 so far. I’ve replaced the default git install with msys2’s utilities in C:\tools\msys64\usr\bin and they seem to work from Windows command prompt just fine, except for bash, which complains of cygwin1.dll mismatch, but that’s OK, I’ll just run the msys2_shell.cmd which is how it’s intended to be used anyway (inside Mintty – or, alternately ConEmu or defterm). So it’s slightly less flexible (git-bash’s bash.exe could be run from inside a standard cmd.exe terminal), but I’m OK with that since I now have man files in Windows (!) and I can update the utilities using pacman, instead of waiting for updates to come through git-bash updates (I have my doubts that it ever happens).
Why do all of this hacky 3rd-party linux sublayer stuff instead of just enabling Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)? Simple: I am fairly certain you cannot run WSL binaries from Windows (please correct me if I’m wrong!).
Continuing along in my series about how to make Windows more palatable for Linux users, one thing that’s been more difficult to find a workaround for is the man command
For about an hour, I went on a wild goose chase for some sort of alternative in Windows, and found relatively little. I discovered a win32 implementation of mandochere, which sounds interesting, but I decided not to explore it further than seeing if it’d run (spoiler: it does), since where would I download all the man files for the utilities that were included with git-bash? Sounded like too much of a chore.
Instead, I opted to go with an entirely new shell framework, called msys2. It’s slightly different than git-bash, in that, although both link to cygwin.dll for their tools, it starts logins an entirely new user folder in the C:\tools\msys64\home\user directory, and uses pacman as a package manager. You can supposedly compile tools that are totally win32 compatible with minGW (also included in the installation package) without having to link to cygwin.dll, but I’ve yet to see that in action.
Besides, all I really cared about at the time was getting my man back! Does that sound like you? Are you also a Windows user missing your man? Well, read further!
Ok, so obviously if you hate Windows, you probably just shouldn’t be using it. But what if you love the way Linux operates, but have a plethora of Windows-only applications you have to have at your fingertips at any moment’s notice?
Here are some ways the discerning Linux user who’s stuck by vendor lock-in can make Windows a little more palatable in the command line:
OK, so practically everyone who uses Linux has come to this menacing prompt at least once or twice. Typically, unless you’re a seasoned sysadmin, it’s a harbinger of death, requiring more than you bargained for to be able to use the computer that day without dire intervention.
But if you know how to navigate the GRUB prompt, you can get back to work just like you were hoping.
These two skills are extremely useful to have in your arsenal of command-line fu, because if you can knowledgably tackle a GRUB prompt in a reasonable amount of time, it can save you hours of headaches and hassle.
So don’t be afraid, embrace the unknown and learn how to navigate GRUB!