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My notes on getting Xfree86 to run under Win32

These notes are incomplete. If you have anything worthwile to add, feel free to send me mail.

With the release of the Services For Unix toolkit by Microsoft, I recommend the MS X server over the cygwin one. Your mileage may vary.


Downloading the interesting stuff

I assume you already have downloaded and installed Windows.

To download and install the required parts of the Cygwin packages, some steps are necessary :

  1. Download and run setup.exe from
  2. Select the "download only" or "install from the internet" feature. I recommend the "download only" feature for easy reinstallation even if your internet access is broken.
  3. Now comes an ugly part, as the setup utility will always try to bring you the full installation, which takes a long time to download and is unnecessary and contains some stuff you might not want on Windows. I deselected all but the following packages :
    • tar-1.13.19-1 (unnecessary but nice to have)
    • wget-1.6-1 (unnecessary but nice to have)
    • gzip-1.3-1(unnecessary but nice to have)
    • man-1.5g-2 (unnecessary but nice to have)
    • mingw-20010424-1 (unnecessary but nice to have)
    • sh-utils-2.0-2
    • zlib-1.1.3-6
    • ncurses-5.2-5
  4. Now, if you haven't already installed the stuff directly from the internet, start the setup.exe again, and install the stuff. The proposed default is c:/cygwin, I chose d:/Programme/cygwin as the cygwin base directory, because all my programs go under D:/Programme/.
  5. You might want to add the path to the cygwin /bin/ directory (default would be c:\cygwin\bin, in my case, it's d:\Programme\cygwin\bin) to your PATH environment and possibly reboot to make the environment current in all your (future) console sessions,
  6. A small test drive by running bash and having a look around is now in order. If bash isn't found, your path is broken. Fix it.

Now comes the second part of downloading, namely, all Xfree stuff needed to get it running.

  1. Visit and download the following packages :
    • Xbin.tgz (some programs for X, possibly not needed)
    • Xxserv.tgz (the X server itself. Without this, it won't run at all)
    • Xfnts.tgz (Fonts for your X server. Reuse of TTF fonts is something not already included)
    • startup-scripts.tgz (Startup scripts for your Xserver)
    Those files should be extracted into c:/cygwin/usr/X11R6/bin/ if you use the default locations, I extracted them into d:\Programme\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin.
  2. Now just double-click on the batch file startxwin.bat, and an X server should come up. The installed default window manager is twm, which is not everybodys choice. It requires manual window placement, so just click into the server window to place your Xterm. So far so good. Now install your favourite software, like Lyx and use X.