If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


GnuWin32 is the Shortcut for the Old and Feeble

I wrote about getting round the simple LUA bug in Steam. Essentially, the installer runs as an admin, which is fine, and it permits the entire installation directory to the admins only, which is not fine, because to use the app, you need write acces to at least some of the files. To get it working, and because the only documentation suggests that you have to be an admin to run steam, the simple route is to set permissions on that directory to Users/Full.

That's a bit of a challenge in XP on an isolated workstation, because the security tab is hidden, and on XP home, at least, it's hard to get it back. Last time, I bodged it with SubInACL. A bit like writing a program in COBOL to change the name of a file.

What I wanted to do was use chmod -- the Unix command. That's because I'm a crusty old fart, and it's hard for me to imagine anything easier than writing chmod -R a+rw "C:/program files/steam/" That may look involved, but the Windows command line equivalent, cacls, is way tougher and you have to use a different program to make it recurse. That's why I ended up with SubInACL.

I'm not the only person to prefer to work this way, but be stuck using Windows. (Because I am, OK?) A lot of people turn to CygWin -- a complete *nix environment hosted on Windows. That's good -- you get shells, utilities, compilers, familiar filing system, the lot, but the very compatibility makes it alien within Windows, and it's really too much of a commitment for me.

So instead, I move further back along the compatibility spectrum, and get to GnuWin32, and that makes me happy. Essentially I can download the stuff I want: grep, less, the core command line tools like ls and chmod, and OpenSSH without making a big production out of pretending to be on Unix. The working ports come as nice friendly installers and the only manual step is to set your path. Because it's not Cygwin, there's no issue using these tools alongside Activestate Perl, or Windows scripting. And the license is impeccable, of course.

Perfect? Almost. Some problems just can't be mentioned ("where's the GNU vi? Tee hee!") and some systems would suit me but aren't there. (I know RCS is obselete, but I don't want to learn SVN.) But GnuWin32 is part of the toolkit.

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