Windows: Making my laptop *nix friendly

Update: Download UnixUtils. Extract to C:\ and then add to PATH by right clicking on My Computer, click Properties -> Advanced (tab) -> Environment Variables (button). This gets the best unix untilities available on command prompt.

I usually do most of my development on my Linux machine and only use my Windows XP laptop for using Outlook (mail and calendaring) and browsing (Firefox, of course).

I decided to work from home due to weather conditions and had to use my laptop more and finally took the steps to make my laptop more unix friendly.

I already had my favorite editor Vim installed on the machine and ruby one click install (which did not required the forbidden admin priviliges thank God) made quick experimenting easy while I was commuting to work. Also rubygems installation work pretty smoothly (similar to on a linux/mac osx system) on windows also.

I already had configured my laptop to use have tab completion for windows lesser shell (cmd or Command Prompt) so cd into directories was a breeze.

Two things that I missed the most still were ls (which I often typed and got error on windows shell) and typing vi filename and opening file and I was fed up with using edit to open files all the time which is far from a decent text editor at least by my standards.

Finally I was motivated enough to do something about these. Here is what I did:

Added the path to the directory where vim was installed to my environment variable:

1. Right Click on ‘My Computer’ and click ‘Properties’
2. Click on ‘Advanced’ tab and click ‘Environment Variables’ button, click ‘PATH’ if already exists or create new if it is not already there.
3. Add the absolute path of directory where vim.exe exists at the end (semi-colo {;} separated list).

Create shortcuts for vi and ls

1. Now open command prompt (Start -> Run -> cmd -> OK)
2. cd into the directory where vim is installed (e.g. C:\>cd “Program Files\Vim\vim70”)
3. edit vi.bat
4. type “C:\Progra~1\Vim\vim70\vim.exe %1 %2 %3” save and exit (Alt – F – X) the file
4a. %1, %2 … are the arguments passed to the bat (shell) script
Since I am lazy I will create the ls bat also here but you can create it in any directory in your path
5. vi ls.bat (now you can use your new shortcut)
6. type “dir %1” save and exit (:wq) the file

Enjoy!