Setup cygwin

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Setup Cygwin

Cygwin[1] is a Linux-like environment for Windows. It consists of two parts:

  • A DLL (cygwin1.dll) which acts as a Linux API emulation layer providing substantial Linux API functionality.
  • A collection of tools which provide Linux look and feel.

The Cygwin DLL currently works with all recent, commercially released x86 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows, with the exception of Windows CE.

Download and install

Download the Cygwin installer and execute it. This installer allows you to download and install the Cygwin environment and tools. In order to make Plplot compile on Cygwin you need the following packages:

  • Devel/gcc or Devel/gcc4
  • Devel/g++ or Devel/g++4 (for C++ bindings)
  • Devel/gada or Devel/gada4 (for Ada bindings)
  • Devel/gfortran (for f95 bindings)
  • Devel/libqhull-devel
  • Devel/swig
  • Devel/cmake
  • Devel/libtool
  • Devel/make

Recommended packages:

  • X11/fontconfig - used by the cairo plotting library, among others
  • development packages for various optional components (cairo, Qt4, ...)


To configure and compile PLplot with Cygwin you need to use the Cygwin-specific version of CMake. Some environment variables need to be set: the path to the shared libraries of PLplot and possibly to LAPACK. Use, for instance, a shell script like:

  # set up the PATH
  set PLPLOTSRC=path_to_PLplot_source_directory
  set BUILDDIR=path_to_build_directory_plplot
  # for Python, add the path to LAPACK
  set PATH=/usr/lib/lapack:$PATH
  # run CMake and make
  cmake $PLPLOTSRC -G "Unix Makefiles" ... further options ...

To run the examples (built with -DBUILD_TEST=ON) you need to add the path to the PLplot shared libraries, for instance the directory $BUILDDIR/dll from above. As environment variables behave in the same way under Cygwin as they do under Linux, you need to have them set in the current process.

Experiences (PLplot 5.9.9) under Cygwin

Below is a short report on recent (september 2013) experiences with PLplot under Cygwin.

The following configuration was tested:

  • MS Windows 7, 64 bits
  • Cygwin, installed using setup.exe version 2.819 (also 64 bits)

To build PLPlot under Cygwin you need to use the version of CMake that comes with Cygwin. Other packages that are required are:

  • fontconfig: without this not all drivers can function (notably the cairo-based but also the X Window based drivers)
  • libltdl: for dynamic drivers and shared libraries

The build process requires that you extend the path with the directory to the DLLs that will be created:

   export PATH=/cygdrive/d/plplot-build/dll:$PATH

assuming you build PLplot in the directory d:\plplot-build - the prefix "/cygdrive/d" and the forward slashes are used to reflexct the UNIX syntax, where the disks are not indicated separately.

Below follow specific remarks about the various components of PLplot:

  • Python:

If you want to use PLplot with Python, you need to install version 2.7 and remove any references to Python 3 (it may be that version 3 also works, but if you have both installed, some mixture is used in CMake and that does not lead to a successful build.)

You need to install Numpy and LAPACK as well. Because the LAPACK libraries are installed in a separate directory you need to add that directory to the PATH too:

   export PATH=/usr/lib/lapack:$PATH
  • Java:

There does not seem to be a Java package in this version of Cygwin. An older version did have one as part of the GNU compiler suite, but CMake could not recognise it.

  • cairo:

If you want to use the cairo device drivers, then you need to build PLplot with static libraries and static drivers, as currently a strange error occurs during the loading of the cairo driver.

The wincairo device driver is currently turned off, because this depends on a component of the cairo libraries that is not supported by Cygwin. All other drivers work fine.

  • Qt:

You need to install the development libraries, as the build process requires several development utilities, among which qmake.

The qtwindow device driver currently terminates with an error message that would indicate a programming error in the initialisation. As it works fine under Linux, this seems related to Cygwin rather than PLplot.

  • X Window:

The X Window based device drivers (xwin, xqt) work fine, but they are very slow. It is not practical to actually use them.

This is something that requires further investigation, as this slowness is not inherent to X Window under Cygwin

  • wingcc:

The wingcc device driver (which uses the native windowing capacities of MS Windows 7) works fine and quickly, just as under Windows itself.

  • Perl:

The Perl-bindings for PLplot are part of PDL. Only when this port has been completed can this be tested.

All language components that were tested (C, C++, Fortran, Python, Tcl and Tcl/Tk) work fine. The non-interactive tests gave clean results.


  1. Cygwin Homepage
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