MinGW Installation Notes

MinGW and MSYS are a minimalist set of GNU tools for software development. MinGW seems to refer to the compilers, and MSYS to a terminal program with a shell and other tools you will need to compile source code.

Installation notes are as follows:

  • Download the setup program mingw-get-setup.exe and double-click the icon to launch it. Detailed instructions are given in the "Graphical User Interface Installer" section of the Getting Started page. Note: The setup program refers to software with names starting with mingw32, which suggests it is for 32 bit Windows only. However, the software works for 64 bit Windows too.
  • The setup program will first install a "base" system and prompt you with a series of questions about your system and preferences. It is OK to give the default answers to all questions. 
  • Second, after the base install is done, a window will pop up to allow you to install additional "packages". The documentation for the different packages is not very good, so I selected all except mingw32-gcc-ada to be on the safe side. After selecting packages there was no obvious way to proceed to the installation. I ended up trying the close the installation manager window, which prompted me to "commit my changes" and then the program did the required installations.
  • You can access the compilers and other tools from MinGW using the MSYS shell that you installed, or through the Windows Command Prompt.
  • To use MSYS, there are two post-installation steps you must take, described in the "After Installing You Should ..." section of the Getting Started page.
    1. The first task is to create a file called fstab. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the
      directory and copy the file fstab.sample there to fstab. Edit fstab so that it includes a line
       C:\MinGW /mingw
      (it probably does already) and a blank line at the end of the file.
    2. Second, create a shortcut on your Desktop to the MSYS.bat file in
      as follows. Navigate to C:\MinGW\MSYS\1.0, right-click the MSYS.bat file, and then click Create Shortcut. Drag the new shortcut to an open area on the desktop.
  • If you choose to access MinGW with the Windows Command Prompt, you must add MinGW to your path:
    • From the Windows Start icon (bottom left of the computer screen) go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced system settings -> Environment Variables.
    • In the list of "System variables", find "Path", click to highlight it and then click the "Edit" button.
    • Scroll to the end of the (long) "Variable value" and add a semi-colon and the full path to the MinGW bin directory (probably C:\MinGW\bin)
    • To start the Command Prompt, click the Windows Start icon and then click All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt