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Emacs build on Windows: Prerequisites

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Emacs build on Windows: Prerequisites
Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 01:55:46 +0900

dhruva writes:

 > Hi,
 >  I have been building emacs on windows so far with no issues as I had
 > all the required executables in place.
 >  I had to move to a new machine and realized that I did not have some
 > of the UNIX shell utilities (ex: cp, rm..) on my windows box.

Indeed, that is annoying.

 >  Why should Emacs build on windows need those tools? Why can't it use
 > the windows equivalents?

Because they're not equivalent.  They are by and large much less
powerful, with idiosyncratic syntax that often does not mix well with
scripts and idiosyncratic semantics such as rather low limits on
number of command line arguments, causing mysterious build failures.
They also do not stay the same across Windows versions.  I haven't
heard of them changing across SPs in Windows XP, but indeed some of
the utilities lost options or changed their spelling across SPs in
both Windows 2000 and Windows NT.

 > This will make it easier for me to build.

That has not been our experience at XEmacs.  Easier for the users,
perhaps.  But that came at a high cost in developer and tester time, a
cost you will bear alone.

Be that as it may, other users and the Emacs developers will be less
able (and possibly less willing) to provide assistance if perchance
you have some difficulty in building.  I don't think you really come
out ahead on the deal.  YMMV, of course.

 > Is there any particular reason to make the availability of the UNIX
 > commands mandatory?

It's free software, nothing is mandatory except the license under
which you redistribute, if you do.<wink>

However, many Emacs functions depend on running utilities, and you
will find aspell, diff, patch, ... in the same place that you find the
fileutils.  I wouldn't be surprised if dired works better with ls than
with dir, and so on and so forth.  Having the usual suite of utilities
is likely to make your Emacs experience much more enjoyable.

BTW, IMO David is too sensitive; your post was quite reasonable,
especially given the well-known policy of Emacs to give precedence to
support for free platforms.  However, AFAICS it's not a question here
of regretfully allocating scarces resources away from support for
native Windows solutions; it's simply better all around to ask Windows
users to spend a few minutes and a few megabytes downloading and
installing the standard utilities from Cygwin or MSYS.

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