Git under windows: MSYS or Cygwin?

I plan to migrate my projects over to git, and I'm currently wondering which is the best and / or most stable option under windows.

From what I gather I basically have 2.5 options:

  1. MSYSgit
  2. git under Cygwin
  3. (aka 2.5) MSYSgit from a Cygwin prompt (given that Cygwin git is already installed).

Note: IMO Cygwin in itself is a big plus as you can have access to pretty much all the *nix command line tools, as where with MSYSgit bash, you only have access to a rather small subset of these tools.

Given that, what option would you suggest?


Edit (2 more years later: October 2014)

Johannes Schindelin just explained (Oct. 2014) that msysgit is phased out:

we now have a light-weight Git for Windows SDK – which is essentially a standard MinGW/MSys system managed through the package manager mingw-get.

We decided to just phase out the name "msysGit" (as well as the GitHub org of the same name) and work on Git for Windows (with the corresponding GitHub org), and using the name "Git for Windows" for the installer aimed at "end-users" and "Git for Windows SDK" for the development environment targeting Git for Windows developers).

Edit (3 years later: April 2012)

MsysGit (now on GitHub) is the way to go if you want a light-weight fast start in Git world: unzip the archive, launch git-cmd.bat or git-bash.bat and you are done. Its latest release (1.7.10, April 2012) now includes support for UTF-8, also included in GitExtension. Don't forget to set your autocrlf to false though.

If you are really missing all the other unix commands not packages with msysgit, simply download a release of GoW (Gnu on Windows), aptly named "The lightweight alternative to Cygwin". I mean: 130 unix commands...

Cygwin should be a backup solution only for certain cases, like the transfer speed of large Git repositories, as mentioned below by incrementor in his answer.

June 2012: if you want to interact with GitHub, you now have (see also "Designing GitHub for Windows"). It not only will configure the ssh keys for you (and add the generated public key to your GitHub profile), but it will also install, for all git operations, a... MsysGit.

Original answer (April 2009)

I have no problem with the latest version of MsysGit: I use the option 2, which means I only add the git\bin directory to the PATH environment variable, but without overriding some built-in windows tools.

I managed to defined external tools like Notepad++ and WinMerge (or DiffMerge)

I did run successfully scripts like svn2git because, from MsysGit1.6.2+, it does include the 'git svn' command.

And finally I look forward to MsysGit1.6.2.3 for it will include finally 'git filter-branch' command! (a slow version of filter-branch, but still).

For the Unix command, I prefer to install a GnuWin32 coreutils package, and use them only when I need them.

So all in all, I do not use the Cygwin layer, and managed to run Git very well in its Windows-based release MsysGit.

Yes. Old question. New answer:

We have been using MSYSgit for about 2 years now in a large deployment. The speed of transfers from a local git repository server have been limited to less than 5 MiB/s. Earlier investigation into the issue indicated that the problem was with MSYS devs being on Windows XP and Windows 7 security limiting connections from command prompt/bash shell. This does not appear to be, in fact, the problem.

I discovered Darrell Mozingo's blog posting and tested a clone of a large (many GiB) repo using only a Cygwin install. Transfer speeds were in the 30 MiB/s range. The problem is that MSYSgit uses an antique OpenSSH binary from 2007.

To this end, until that gets fixed, I am now recommending a shift to Cygwin (even though the version of git is a bit behind). I also found Cygwin to be more stable and less likely for perl to run out of memory.

I've dabbled with using both the MSYS and Cygwin versions of git, and to be really honest, I didn't find either experience especially good. I just don't think git is really ready for windows yet.

That being said, one issue I found with the MSYS version is that it would convert the line-endings on your (non-binary) files from UNIX style (line-feed) to DOS style (carriage-return/line-feed). You may consider this a bug or a feature, but there is no way to change the behaviour that I could find. (EDIT: Set the configuration variable core.autocrlf to false. Thanks Brian.)

OTOH, the MSYS version of git has some GUI functionality that isn't available in the cygwin version unless you want to install and run a whole X server. (Thanks Joce for confirming this.)

My impression is that the MSYS version is more popular, although that may be because you don't need to install a cygwin ecosystem to use it. (And I agree, cygwin is extremely useful.)

Personally, I would go with either Bazaar or Mercurial, either of which have better support for windows IMO.

Both Cygwin and Msys Git work fairly well for normal use-cases. If you want to use scripts such as git-svn, Cygwin is a better bet. As an old Windows users who finally jumped ship to Linux, I can definitely say that Cygwin is a great boon and worth having in and of itself.

Context is important though; what projects are these? Who are they used by? Etc.

I've also tested both worlds (CygWin and MSysgit), my experiences is also that there are some shortcomings in the MSysgit bash. Unable to run git stash sucessfully while Cygwin handled it gracefully on the same git repo.

No deep analysis done yet, though...

I currently use Msysgit together with TortoiseGit.

The MsysGit UI isn't really to my liking so I use a familiar tool like TortoiseGit and when working on the commandline (most of the time), I use the git binary from Msysgit

I'd recomment msysgit. Especially if it is used with Git Extensions: it provide easy way to configure environment: editor/diff/merge tools, and allows to do advanced git operations from the user interface.

I have run into serious bugs in MSys's cygwin implementation: some commands, especially the rebase, were quite prone to failure. Cygwin's was much more stable for me.

That said, it was a month ago, might have improved since.

I have used both Cygwin Git and Msysgit with Windows. I would suggest using Cygwin + Git. Cygwin 1.7 (currently in beta) addresses a major nuance (at least for me) while using git gui and gitk. Earlier versions of Cygwin used to open 10s of cmd windows every time I do something in git-gui or gitk. This has been addressed in 1.7. Cygwin's powerful shell brings in a lot of the goodies of linux terminal as well.

That said, Msysgit has evolved quite a bit and is really useful in Windows. I faced a couple of issues though.

Permission issue: a few files created natively in windows had mode 755 which got converted to 644 while using Msysgit. This would show up as modified files. A checkin should fix this issue.

CRLF: The all elusive CRLF as usual creates issues in Windows. Msysgit might report files as modified. This can be fixed by selecting "Leave line endings unchanged" (forgot the exact text) while installing Msysgit.

Daemon: And yeah I'm still finding it tough to setup git daemon in Msysgit.

New answer to an old question ...

I'm using git 1.7.3 from a Windows 7 cmd shell, and it works great. I use a mix of git command line and git gui, and both have been working fine for months. We did have carriage return/line feed issues, exacerbated when we added Mac developers to the team, but these were resolved with ...


Not saying you shouldn't use a *nix-y shell, just that it isn't necessary.

I have reservations towards CygWin because I only want git and not any of the other tools that Cygwin wants to shove in. Normally you want your windows computer to work like a windows computer and CygWin wants to slap on something completely different. Slapping on *nix functionality just for the kicks is not to go.

The thing is, if I ever want to work with *nix like command line, I'd go over to my Linux machine and work on that computer instead. Virtual computers and remote desktops work like a charm nowadays and is accessible enough for developers.

There really needs to be a legitimate reason for you to be using CygWin. If it is just for using git I'd suggest you use MSysGit instead which is my preference. It works really well with the gitk and git-gui tools that are bundled. I've been working on both Eclipse and Visual Studio using msysgit and it works like a charm.

The only thing I'm waiting for now is a fully working Tortoise clone for git.

There is one scenario under Windows where you simply have to use Git via Cygwin: This is when you want to use Git against a SVN server, which expects SVN client versions higher than 1.5. There exist SVN pre-commit hooks which block commits when there's no 'mergeinfo' argument - and the 'mergeinfo' argument is default in SVN only since version 1.5. The problem with msysGit is, that it is build against an older SVN version (1.4.6), so you can't successfully commit in this case. But it is possible with Cygwin's Git, since it is build against newer SVN versions.

If you just want to do simple actions like push/pull/branching you could try SourceTree from Atlasian. A very simple and clear UI for Git command. However it has short coming.

If you need to use the command-line git tool, just get the Git for windows tool. It should be enough, unless you start looking in bash scripting.

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