What to do if Cygwin Does Not Work Properly in Vista

So, I tried to install Cygwin on my Windows Vista Business machine today.  The install, via the setup.exe that downloads what you want to install, launched and completed as it always had in WIndows XP. I was pleasantly surprised considering how Vista has refused to install things normally before. Just when I was about to be happy, I clicked on the Cygwin Bash Shell shortcut, the prompt came up, but no commands worked.  Not ls, not dir, not anything! I let out my usual sigh of annoyance and cursed Vista (for the millonth time).

I then proceeded to Google to find a solution.  Nothing. The forum posts pleading for help were responded to with the usual worthless suggestions (such as “Don’t use Vista“) and RTFM talk. I don’t really want to use Vista, but it has been forced upon me and I have little recourse but to use it.  Anyway, after trying a few things that didn’t work, I finally figured out what to do: Set your system path environment to the Cygwin bin directory and everything works fine!

To do that, all you gotta do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Install Cygwin normally with the setup.exe program, selecting what you want to install.  For the purposes of this walkthrough, I’m going to assume you installed Cygwin in the default C:\cygwin location.
  2. Click on the Start Menu (or Windows Orb, for those of you Vista fanboys).
  3. Right Click on Computer, and choose Properties.
  4. Click Advanced system settings in the left-hand context sidebar (and accept the UAC prompt to go proceed as an Administrator).
  5. Click the Advanced tab
  6. Click the Environmental Variables button at the bottom of the dialog.
  7. In the Environment Variables list box, find the variable Path and double click on it
  8. In the resulting Variable Value box, move your cursor to the end of the line of paths already there and add ;C:\cygwin\bin Do not forget the semicolon before the path!

That’s it! Remember, if you installed Cygwin somewhere other that C:\Cygwin, you’ll have to change your path to be different from my example. I’m hoping that if you did a non-standard install that you can figure out how to adjust the path!  I hope this helps somebody!

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