When comparing cmder vs Cygwin, the Slant community recommends cmder for most people. In the question“What are the best power user tools for Windows?” cmder is ranked 6th while Cygwin is ranked 19th. The most important reason people chose cmder is:
Cmder builds on [ConEmu](https://code.google.com/p/conemu-maximus5) console emulator, by adding enhancements from [clink](http://mridgers.github.io/clink/) (such as bash-style completion in cmd.exe and PowerTab in powershell.exe) and optionally extending it with [msysgit](http://msysgit.github.io), that brings Unix tools to Windows.
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Pro Minimal and portable version available
There is a portable version of cmder available which is just 10 MB in size. It can be put on an external device, like a USB stick, and run off it. There's no installation required.
Pro File explorer integration
Cmder can be added to the right-click menu, allowing the user to start a terminal session from the selected directory with a "Cmder Here" command. The functionality can be enabled by opening up a terminal with administrator privileges, navigating to the Cmder folder and executing
.\cmder.exe /REGISTER ALL.
Pro Has built-in Quake style drop-down mode
This is an extremely useful mode whereby the console hides and shows on ctrl+~ similar to a gaming console. This feature is inherited from ConEmu.
Pro Monokai color scheme
Cmder pretties up the default look of ConEmu using Monokai color scheme out of the box and allows flexible color and transparency schemes, including custom out-of-focus opacity.
Pro Works nicely with command line applications
Such applications include CMD, Powershell, and MinTTY.
Pro Integrates with graphical applications
Portable GUI applications can be integrated directly into the interface of the terminal emulator.
For example, it's possible to integrate ST3 with cmder by moving the portable version of ST3 to
/cmder/vendor/ and editing alias file in
/cmder/config/aliases to include
subl="%CMDER_ROOT%\vendor\Sublime Text 3\sublime_text.exe" $1 -new_console:s75V. Now writing
subl in the command line will open ST3. The alias of subl can be changed to whatever's needed and similarly, the
-new_console option's parameters can be changed to alter how the text editor integrates with the terminal emulator. It can be horizontal or vertical splits of varying sizes or tabs, etc.
Pro Works with VS Code, Hyper and IDEs
Cmder can be used with popular editors such as VS Code, which delivers aliases and clink as well as its color scheme to VS Code.
It can also be used without ConEmu and Hyper as an alternative terminal emulator, which makes customizing the UI through NPM plugins much easier.
Pro Highly flexible
Pro Works with ZSH and Oh My ZSH through WSL (using ubuntu 18.04)
Set ZSH as shell using "chsh" command, and launch the console using "ubuntu1804" command.
Pro Works with WSL bash.exe
CMDer works great with the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Just change your startup task to point to the bash.exe file.
Pro Additional packages available via Cygwin Ports project
Pro Better default terminal
Cygwin's default terminal "Mintty" is far better than CMD.
Pro You can run graphical applications
It has X Server.
Con Issues with non-unicode characters
'ls' command can have issues with non-unicode characters such as cyrillic. As of 1.1.2, 'dir' can be used as a substitute that will properly display non-unicode characters. Unfortunately, it's an issue with msysgit that isn't being officially addressed (a workaround is available) thus no official ETA on the bugfix is available.
Con Slower than ConEmu
Con Not as portable as advertised
Even though cmder is advertised as a "portable terminal emulator for Windows", it's not adequately minimalistic to be considered truly portable. In fact, one of the dependencies required to use it is the Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2015.
Con Issues with escape codes
Sometimes it doesn't interpret terminal escape codes correctly and the output gets mangled using tmux over ssh, for instance.
Con The portable (mini) version does not have UNIX commands
UNIX command support is only available for the full version.
Con Lots of conflicts with OS keybindings
By default, things lke ctrl-w will close your window unexpectedly when using nano or trying to delete a word in bash.
Con Very slow
Scrolling in vim lags the screen and can crash.
Con Many incompatibilities
A lot of tools don't actually work with Cygwin, and documentation is often sparse, so for many use cases, it's worth the small bit of extra effort to just run a full virtual machine.