November 22, 2008


Filed under: linux,usability — jonEbird @ 10:02 am

For years I thought the best way to enhance my Windows experience, with the common Unix/Linux tools I’m most comfortable with, was to do so with cygwin. That was until now. At work, where we are forced to use Windows, I recently had my laptop rebuild and afterwards my re-install of cygwin wasn’t going too well. Finally fed up, I then recalled seeing reviews about colinux and how it was advertised as being tightly integrated into the Windows experience. Before looking for the install media, I then saw that there are a couple of distros which are then built on top of colinux. One of which, andLinux, is a full Ubuntu release and I presumed that their layering on top of colinux was naturally providing additional support and/or features and decided to go with andLinux for the install.

After completing the install, I must say, I am very pleased and impressed with the work they have done. I’m not sure how much of the credit goes to colinux and how much goes to andLinux, but they both get a A+ in my book. Here are my top reasons for choosing andLinux over cygwin:

  1. Full Linux operating system running on top of Windows.
    Not actually being virtualized and is therefore quick. It is a special patch to the Linux kernel which allows this tight integration with winblows.
  2. Each window / app launched takes the same look&feel decorations as each other windows app.
    Translation: Doesn’t look like crap.
    Also, each app’s icon is properly displayed in the task bar instead of the same, repeated icon used in cygwin.
  3. Transition from wired to wireless is seamless.
    This was a piece a co-worker asked me to test out and I’m writing this up while on my wireless network at home. After suspending my laptop at work, I then un-suspended it at home and I didn’t have to touch a thing. My existing terminal window could still query hosts and I even tested an install of a quick package.
  4. It’s running Ubuntu.
    Means to get additional apps, which you might be missing, you get to do "apt-get install <missingapp>" instead of re-launching setup.exe.
  5. Clean terminal.
    What is this bullet point doing here you ask? Well, it is what motivated me to move away from cygwin in the first place today. I was previously trying to use mrxvt and after multiple issues, decided to punt.
    The default terminal appears to be gnome-terminal and yet I choose the XFCE version over the KDE version.
  6. Xming X11 Server included.
    No need for hummingbird’s crappy X server. This is discrete and works very well.
  7. Automatic TAP (bridged) networking configured.
    There is about 4 screens used during the install and none were about networking. Just works.
  8. “cofs” filesystem
    My C:\ drive is mounted at /mnt/win via their ‘cofs’ filesystem. Sweet.

If you are like me and are stuck using Windows for whatever reason, I would highly suggest checking out andLinux. They are currently in beta but I’m okay with dealing with any minor hiccups. I have used it for only two days and already feel light-years away from my previous cygwin days.

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