Introduction to MinGW

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  • DevynCJohnson
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    The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is a popular set of developer's tools used by Linux users. However, because of its popularity and the fact that GCC is open-source, GCC can be ported to Windows. This ported GCC is called MinGW.

    Minimalistic GNU for Windows (MinGW - http://www.mingw.org/) provides a way to use the GNU developer tools (such as GCC) on Windows. In other words, MinGW is a GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) port to Windows. Programs compiled using MinGW can be run on Windows. Also, the MinGW cross-compilers allow developers to compile programs for Windows from a Linux system. The MinGW compilers supports C/C++, Objective-C/C++, Ada, and Fortran.

    Not all Unixoid applications compiled using MinGW will work on Windows. When using Linux to develop software and cross-compile, remember that some applications may not compile or port successfully. Some developers may need to change some of their code. For instance, try to use cross-platform or ported libraries such as SDL, GTK, Qt, etc.

    Mingw-w64 (http://mingw-w64.yaxm.org) is a fork that provides newer features such as gcc-5.x support (while MinGW supports gcc-3.4.5). Another fork of MinGW exists called "MinGW Distro" as seen at http://nuwen.net/mingw.html .

    "mingwPORTs" are user-made additions to the MinGW software collection.

    Xming is an Xorg port for Windows to provide the X11 protocol and display server (http://www.straightrunning.com/XmingNotes/).

    Minimal System (MSYS - http://www.mingw.org/wiki/msys) is a MinGW-related package that consists of GNU utilities. Such utilities include Bash, make, grep, and others. It is strongly recommended that MSYS and MinGW both be installed together. MSYS does not have all of the features that Cygwin can offer.

    msysDTK (MSYS Developer Tool Kit) is a collection of tools such as openssl, cvs, openssh, autoconf and more. msysDTK is a subcomponent of MSYS.

    With MinGW, MSYS, msysDTK, and Xming, Windows users can have a Unix-like environment on their MS-Windows system. Qt and GTK can also be installed on Windows to better achieve a Linux and Unix like look and feel. However, if a POSIX environment is desired, Cygwin should be used.

    MinGW can be downloaded at http://sourceforge.net/projects/mingw/files/ which is the official downloads location for MinGW and MSYS (msysDTK included). If installing MinGW on a Linux system, check the default repositories first.

    NOTE: When installing MinGW, install it in a location that does not contain a space in the path address (such as "C:\Program Files).

    Further Reading

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