Essentials to make Windows almost bareable

Okay, so I hate working in Windows, but on my employer’s equipment at least, I must live with it. After having had this machine replaced twice (faulty Dell hardware) and rebuilt more times than I can remember (Windows BSODs), for a total of at least 3 system migrations this past year, I thought I’d better keep a list of what free software to install on top of Windows, and what adjustments to make, so that at least I don’t feel like I’m wearing a straight jacket. Here goes:

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Setting up multiple Java VMs under Cygwin

It is useful to have different versions of the JVM installed, for a number of reasons:

  • Different optimisation features from different JVM implementations
  • Different language features from different JVM versions
  • Java classes compiled with “Tiger” won’t run in “Mantis”…

It is also useful to be able to quickly switch between installed JREs/JDKs depending on the task at hand.

If I’m hacking in Linux, the JPackage project provides a much nicer solution to this problem, and the Linux distro’ I’m using (SUSE 10.0) uses JPackage. It’d be nice if there was an update-alternatives for Cygwin, but since there isn't I've come up with this hack.

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