Cygwin makes it bearable
I recently switched employers. At my new place of employment management has made no provision for UNIX administrators running a UNIX-based workstation OS. So for the first time in about 10 years I am (attempting to be) using Microsoft Windows as a workstation OS.
From this experience I have gathered a few things:
- The Microsoft Windows user experience has not changed in any noticeable ways
- A significant number of third party applications are required to make Microsoft Windows a usable workstation OS for a UNIX administrator
- Cygwin has improved significantly
- Cygwin is still incomplete, and slightly buggy
Here are some of the things I have done to improve the situation on my installation of Microsoft Windows:
- Install Cygwin (it may be slow, incomplete, and slightly buggy but it's better than the nothing Microsoft Windows ships with)
- Install PuTTY's SSH Agent (pageant) (actually, PuTTY SC's SSH Agent, for smartcard support)
- Install "charade" to connect Cygwin OpenSSH to PuTTY's SSH agent
- Install VirtuaWin to get multiple desktops
- Setup Cygwin/X
- Install Google Chrome
- Install Mozilla Thunderbird
At this point I only see the warts of Microsoft Windows when the Cygwin abstraction fails.
The UNIX team has requested a UNIX workstation installation image for our systems, and the workstation management team has responded that they have never heard of this "UNIX" application.