Can I even ask about how to "best" install Vim on windows? I generally a have a unix problem there... and it affects vim in that gVim mostly works, but then some odd things aren't working (like tab completing help topics nor commands nor files) and running vim in the cmd.exe messes up the colors very much (compared to in Mintty, but that's another issue where I have multiple vims around now just because some environments come with their own).

Actually you might look at this question and let me know if it can be adapted to be basically: here's all the ways I could run vim, is there a right way? https://superuser.com/questions/1016899/windows-10s-story-for-unix

Oh and that's deleted now. Allow me to um... include the text here for reference:

What's the story for Unix on Windows 10?

I recently moved from MacOS X 10.11 to Windows 10, and am sorely missing the one true unix installation for the operating system.

I ask due to the following experiences:

  1. I installed git for windows and got a little compact bit of unix in C:\Program Files\Git\git-bash.exe which runs
    • mintty using
    • mingw64 running with bin dev etc tmp usr confusingly mounted out of the aforementioned directory yet there being a mingw64 directory that similarly contains bin etc lib libexec share ssl that don't seem to get mounted and refers to C:\Users\MyUserName\ as the home dir.
    • If I run vim it runs the /usr/bin/vim contained version that's build differently than the windows version, and opening :e %MYVIMRC opens ~/.vim/vimrc
    • It maps C: to /c/
  2. Cygwin which runs
    • mintty too, out of C:\cygwin\ with bin dev etc home lib sbin tmp usr var in it where the home dir is within that home instead of my windows homedir.
    • If I run vim it hangs until I press control-c, which closes the window too.
    • It maps C: to /cygdrive/c/
    • It is noticeably slower, even at the prompt.
  3. Github Desktop for Windows, which has an executable called git shell which can be configured to run bash and then runs a prompt that is not mintty using
    • mingw64 but out of somewhere like C:\Users\MyUserName\AppData\Local\GitHub\PortableGit_ahashofacommit\
    • It maps C: to /c/
    • If I run vim it runs the windows installed version that read :e $MYVIMRC from ~/vimfiles/vimrc/
  4. Gnu on Windows, which gives some exe files in a C:\Program Files (x86)\Gow\bin these can run in any of the previous environments and also the Windows cmd.exe prompt/shell.
    • Fast, easy to install, but quite limited in adding anything onto them.
    • Run with cmd.exe it maps C: to C:.
    • Run with cmd.exe vim runs in the window with off colors and reads :e $MYVIMRC from ~/vimfiles/vimrc.
  5. Vim for Windows, which can run gVim right from the start menu, or gvim/vim from the command prompt.
    • It reads :e $MYVIMRC from ~/vimfiles/vimrc/
    • gVim maps C: to /

I won't get into the oddness around supposed cross-platform software ranging from Eclipse, Visual Studio Code, to MySQL, and more niche items like MIT-Scheme. I'll just say they're imperfect even if the first two are nearly well polished. The Java environment is relatively interoperable, but retains a preference for a Unix style that seems un-native.

It gets even more confusing as one moves forward trying to install and run something like Apache Drill or another generally for unix tool which has a Windows version. You can't run it in anything but the cmd.exe prompt, but in that prompt it unhooks input accidentally piping the input to the prompt. For example.

So were is the unifying Unix toolset for windows? Is it still Cygwin, if so, why is it so slow and painful and hard to add non-standard packages to? Does everyone just run Linux/FreNetBSD/Minix in a virtual machine or what's going on that this mess is the new normal? Microsoft HAD Windows Services for Unix, but that was neither here nor there and it's deprecated. Does Microsoft have no reason to try making an official way to get, or build ported unix software in some light semi-virtualized posix way?

2 Answers 2


I guess a question along the lines of "How do I install Vim on Windows? What are the pros and cons of each way of installing?" would be on-topic, and not overly broad (see similar questions discussing the plugin managers and installing plugins).

It might get some downvotes, but I expect such a question to remain open.


some odd things aren't working (like tab completing help topics nor commands nor files) and running vim in the cmd.exe messes up the colors very much

It looks like you're having a few problems with Vim on Windows. I'm pretty sure the tab completion is just some setting; and running Vim from cmd.exe is a different question entirely. It's not immediately obvious to me what the pasted question is asking exactly, but I think you want to run Unix tools (grep, sed, etc.) from Vim on Windows? That doesn't directly relate to the first two questions either.

In other words, it looks like you can ask three questions: "Tab completion doesn't work in Windows", "Colours don't work when running Vim from cmd.exe", and "How can I run Unix tools from Vim in Windows?"

Putting them all in a "I'm having a bunch of problems with Windows"-question doesn't really work very well. Just ask three (or more) questions, one for each problem.


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