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For beginners using Windows who are interested in the C/C++ language (anyway, you need to compile your C/C++ programs) or Linux embedded system development, the big headache is switching back and forth between Windows & Linux. Even you have to continuously reboot system in order to achieve the purpose, very troublesome. Cygwin just solved this problem.
Cygwin (short for GNU + Cygnus + Windows) is a UNIX-like simulation environment running on Windows platform began in 1995. It was developed and released as freeware by Cygnus Solutions company (their another famous tool eCos had been acquired by Redhat). It's pretty useful for developers who are using Windows but want to learn UNIX/Linux operating environment, study C/C++ language, port apps from UNIX to Windows, or perform special development work, and especially use the GNU tool sets to start with embedded systems development on Windows.
Cygwin is so powerful because she has the library that can be called Unix functions from. Once the software installation is completed, you can call the Microsoft Win32 API functions and Cygwin API functions to write 32-bit console or GUI applications. In that case, your Windows can be linked with Unix programs effectively without too much change.
Of course, this tool can also be used to develop many GNU software. In addition, even if this tool itself is not very useful for you, yet you're probably interested in so many standard Unix tools it contained.
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