Windows Software for Unix Users

The purpose of this page is to provide a list of pointers to free (mostly open-source, but some zero-cost commercial) software that Unix people can use to create a useful and familiar operating environment on a Windows box as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Contents: Acrobat Reader | Cygwin | dos2unix | Emacs | Ghostscript | GIMP | Gnuplot | ImageMagick | MikTeX | PC Pine | Perl | PGP | PuTTY | Tera Term | UWIN | VIM | VNC

There are binaries available at all of the sites listed here, so you won't have to compile anything. The sophistication of the Windows ports varies - some software installs and uninstalls Windows-style, and some you just untar and use.

I've run all of this software under Windows NT 4.0, and most of it under Windows 2000. I assume that it works under Windows 95/98/Me as well, but I'm not sure since I don't have machines running these.

Suggestions and corrections are welcome. Drop me a line at

Simon Peyton Jones has made a nice win32 cheat sheet.

Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is the standard utility for reading and printing PDF files.


Cygwin is a very useful package that creates a Unix-like environment under NT. It contains the basic GNU tools: bash, gcc, tar, gzip, diff, m4, etc.

dos2unix and unix2dos

dos2unix and its partner make it a bit easier to deal with the obnoxious carriage return characters that make sharing text files between Windows and Unix machines a pain.


Whether I'm using Unix or Windows I spend most of my time in Emacs. The Windows port of Emacs is the main reason that I can do serious development under Windows at all. The Emacs for NT documentation contains a list of pointers to Unix tools that have been ported to Windows 95/NT.


You will want Ghostscript and GSview (a GUI front-end) to be able to view PostScript documents.


The GIMP is a free, graphical image manipulation tool that looks a little like Photoshop. Last time I used it, the Windows port was useful but somewhat buggy.


Gnuplot is an interactive, command-line program for plotting functions and data.


ImageMagick is a powerful set of command-line image manipulation tools. Calling these programs from a perl or shell script is the easiest way to automate repetitive image processing tasks.


MikTeX is a distribution of the TeX and LaTeX typesetting systems, including a DVI viewer.

PC Pine

PC Pine is a small, friendly, text-mode email and usenet client for NT.


ActivePerl is a nice port of the pathologically eclectic programming language to Windows.


PGP provides strong encryption and key management.


PuTTY is a free telnet + SSH client.

Tera Term

Tera Term is a terminal emulator. Be sure to also get TTSSH, an SSH extension.


David Korn's UWIN is similar to Cygwin - it provides a Unix compatibility layer over Win32.


VIM is an improved version of the venerable vi text editor. Also see WinVI and Vile.


VNC is a remote display system for Windows, Unix, and several other platforms.

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Last modified: Tue Mar 13 19:32:32 2001