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It is my understanding the MSYS is basically equivilent to Cygwin, but with
special machinery to make it foolproof with MinGW, and easy for new users to
get into with having to go through the hassle of Cygwin.
I have two general sorts of problems with MSYS.
1) For one, for better or worse, I've been through a whole lot of MSYS bugs.
I've had MSYS installed for as long as its existed, and my perception is that
"there's always something." Bugs are OK; this is community software, after
all. However, in the past, I've had a lot of trouble seeing them fixed.
a. There is a lot less maintanance effort going into MSYS. This is OK, but
it results in certain catagories of bugs that noone in particular wants to fix.
b. It appears the MSYS is not getting as much testing as Cygwin. A lot of the
sorts of bugs I've had in the past noone else had even reported.
c. Many of these bugs Cygwin apparently has never had in the first place.
(What bugs? The important ones for me were a few shell bugs that made building
many configure scripts impossible, occasional CRLF problems that are a real
pain, and the apparently chronic problems with RXVT/W11.)
2) Its out of date. Some of the tools still have known bugs, such as the gawk
that comes with MSYS that will mis-generate the GCC option list. Its also more
hassle to rebuild newer versions of the tools on MSYS, for various reasons.
Last time I checked, config.guess didn't recognize MSYS.
Do not misunderstand me. I think MSYS is valuable for acheiving the goal of
a small system that will allow configure scripts to run, and easily provide
the tools users need to enjoy a command-line GNU development environment.
However, for a more experienced user, who is having some sort of problem with
whatever, why not use Cygwin? If I understand correctly, MSYS shares the same
general underlying machinery and codebase as Cygwin.
Sure, I could try to debug my program--and I have, on some occasions, with little
luck. I remember how much time I wasted trying to track down that bug that
makes RXVT lock up sometimes when the terminal beeps on some WinME configs,
that I think still exists. But why? If Cygwin doesn't even have a particular
bug, why should I spend time debugging something that has already been fixed?
Or if I need a newer or modified version, why should I try to build it on MSYS
when, in Cygwin, the binary package is probably up-to-date anyway, and if it
isn't, the source tarball will probably build out-of-box quickly?
Aaron W. LaFramboise
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