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Introduction: the Problem for Windows Users on OSM

This is a user page where I am working out some guidelines for Windows users who want to duplicate the various Linux (e.g., GNU) command-line examples on several OpenStreetMap Wiki and Talk pages. It is inefficient for every article with such an example to duplicate advice for Windows users on how to download particular GNU tools.


  • Introduce the problem
    • Many (most?) of the technical leaders on OpenStreetMap seem to use Linux or Mac OS X.
    • We can expect them to solve many text-file processing problems with Unix/Linux/GNU tools, and then to document their procedures with command-line examples.
  • List all OSM Wiki and Talk pages having GNU command-line examples.
    • Search for references to particular tools, e.g.:
    • Search for characteristic words or formatting patterns that suggest command-line examples.
    • Send a message to an OSM mailing list asking authors to send me URLs of any articles I missed that contain command-line examples.
  • Help for Windows users.
    • Windows does not have GNU tools by default.
    • Windows users following along with the Linux/GNU command-line examples have two options:
      • Install one tool at a time, as they need it.
        • Pro: quick and uses little disk space, for users who only want to run one particular command.
        • Con: slow and hard to maintain, for users who will want to run many commands now or in the future; lack of a Unix-compatible shell in Windows might prevent some commands that use Unix shell syntax from working as-is.
      • Install a Unix-like compatibility layer such as Cygwin.
        • Pro: gets all the GNU tools in one step, plus Unix shells, and a whole operating environment very similar to Linux; the Windows user can then run most if not all of the command-line examples without delay. For a Windows user with Unix/Linux experience, Cygwin makes Windows much more comfortable.
        • Con: Cygwin uses considerable disk space; users with no Unix experience will have some learning to do (although not as much as switching to a Linux box, since they retain their familiar Windows interface alongside Cygwin); overkill for a user who really does only want to run one particular tool, and won't be running more later.

List of OSM Wiki and Talk pages having Unix/Linux/GNU command-line examples

In this section, I am accumulating a list of OSM Wiki and Talk pages that contain Unix/Linux/GNU command-line examples. Cygwin should allow the Windows user to execute most if not all of them (I (or someone else) should test each one). My initial checking in Cygwin is to run the which [1] command on each program the command-line example(s) in the article use, to see whether Cygwin has them. If they are present in Cygwin, the examples should work, although some examples may require some setup first.

More to follow.

Category: Unix command examples

On 17:49, 26 Jul 2006 (BST) I realized a more efficient way to inventory the OSM Wiki and Talk pages containing Unix/Linux/GNU command-line examples would be to categorize them. To do this, I added the following code to the bottom of each such page:

[[Category:Unix command examples]]

Then all these pages became visible on the category page: Category:Unix command examples.