For years, I have been using the Unix Tools for Windows and it's been a great package. It's lightweight, simple and includes just about anything one could need. Been using it for years.
Seems it's a dead project though. Tools are over 10 years out of date and we're running into versioning problems ('make', for example, is v3.80 in the update pkg from the website but our build system needs 3.81).

Looking for a replacement suite. I know about Cygwin … hate it! Bloated, heavy, overkill, overgrown, installs waaaaaaaay too much and is just not to my liking. Did I mention it's bloated and overkill? I don't want 100+ MBs installed for just a few tools. I don't want a full X environment for a 'find' tool. Make it go away!

Is there another suite, like UTfW, that offers some current, natively compiled tools I can drop into a folder, add to the path and carry on?

  • 2
    Not using this myself, but you might wish to take a look at the UnxUtils page at Wikipedia, which mentions several alternatives such as Interix (last release 2010) and MinGW (last release 2013).
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 10:11
  • You might also be interested in PowerShell, which is built-in in Windows.
    – ComFreek
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 16:04
  • 1
    For what it's worth, Cygwin only installs the everything under the sun if you accept the default installation. If you do a custom installation, you can deselect everything and then just cherry pick the packages you want. If you find after a while that your chosen solution isn't quite cutting it, I'd encourage you to just give Cygwin one more try.
    – ATG
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 16:04
  • You're right. Recently, I had the opportunity to retry cygwin. First time installing the 32bit tools and it was actually quite lightweight, compared to my prev experience. I actually had to search for and install more packages in order to get the setup I wanted. #notsomuchacygwinhateranymore
    – Jon
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


Best is opinion based.

However GOW is a pretty nice collection of gnu tools

  • The maintainer uses it, so you have fairly recent builds that have been tested to be stable
  • Single installer that adds these tools to your path, so you can use them right away, and without needing to remember where they are, just like in linux.

Before that I was using busybox for windows , which while not as recent, is a single executable, which can be better for some uses.

  • That does appear to be a nice suite, I will give that a try at some point. I am working with mingw at present which is fitting the bill, but it;s nice to have options.
    – Jon
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 13:25
  • Accepting this as the answer as it (GOW) offers make v3.81, is lightweight and easy to install and use. I have yet to try it, being that I've already installed mingw, but, I grabbed the make.exe and the three dll's it required and it fired right up. I have high confidence that this is a great replacement suite! I wonder about its relation to mingw; when I launch it via make -v, one of the output lines reads: "This program built for i386-pc-mingw32".
    – Jon
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 13:38
  • Its probably compiled using mingw32, and/or uses components of it. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 8:25

Within the comments of Unix Tools for Windows, there is actually another one called GnuWin32. This seems to be a little more relevant (last code update was 2010), and it seems to have quite a number of packages to its name. See if this helps you out!


Microsoft has recently introduced Bash on Windows 10 in Insider Preview.

Here is how to download and install it: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2016/04/06/bash-on-ubuntu-on-windows-download-now-3/

Probably it's the best choice on the current moment (if you have Windows 10, of course).

  • 1
    This is a good choice, but there are lots of limitations; chief among which is that you cannot access the Windows filesystem from withing the linux runtime. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 6:59
  • @BurhanKhalid Actually you CAN. Via /mnt/c, /mnt/d and so on.
    – vladon
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 7:02
  • This could be very interesting!
    – Jon
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 16:16

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