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  • Unix Commands on Windows with CygWin

    posted on 31 January 2014 by Jim Moffitt

    When you’re first beginning to use one of Gnip’s products, one major benefit of working in a Linux/Unix environment is the ability to utilize simple command-line tools to interact with our APIs. These allow you to get a good idea of the available functionality and data without having to write any code first. However, if you aren’t running on Linux, Mac OS, or some other Linux/Unix variant, you will need to install a Linux emulator to take advantage of these tools. A Linux emulator brings the power of the Linux command-line and scripting to your Windows operating system.

    At Gnip we work and develop predominantly on the Mac OS, which is built on top of a Unix-like Open Source operating system called NetBSD. We can simply open the Terminal application and have a full-blown Linux-like experience. Because of this we offer simple command-line examples to quickly demonstrate how to exercise the many APIs that make up the foundation of the many data service products we provide. Most of these example commands are based on cURL.

    If you are reading this article it is highly likely that you were referred to it because you are a Windows user and have Historical PowerTrack data to download. Here is the example command provided to download Historical PowerTrack data files:

    curl -sS -u<consoleuser>:<password>
    /track/jobs/<job_uuid>/resu  lts.csv | xargs -P 8 -t -n2 curl -o

    For customers on Linux or Mac OS, this command can readily be used to automate the file downloading. For Windows-users, this command will fail, even if you have cURL installed, unless you have a Linux emulator installed since it includes the Linux xargs command. If you try this command on Windows, the odds are very high you will receive the following error:

    C:\work\dmApp>curl -sS -u<consoleuser>:<password>
    /track/jobs/<job_uuid>/results.csv | xargs -P 8 -t -n2 curl -o
    'xargs' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

    Cygwin is a popular Linux emulator and below we discuss how to install it and selected packages. We then demonstrate using the above command to download Historical PowerTrack data files.

    Installing Cygwin with Selected Packages

    Download and run the appropriate installation executable

    To install Cygwin go to the http://www.cygwin.com/ website and look for the Install Cygwin link in the upper left corner of the front page. On the “Installing and Updating Cygwin Packages” page your see links to both 32-bit Windows ([setup-x86.exe] (http://cygwin.com/setup-x86.exe)) and 64-bit Windows ([setup-x86_64.exe] (http://cygwin.com/setup-x86_64.exe)).

    If you are not sure whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system, go to the Start button, select the ‘Computer’ link on the right panel, then select ‘System properties’ from the menu bar.

    Select the install folder

    The Cygwin installation package will default to installing in the C:\cygwin64 folder. This recipe was based on that default, although Cygwin should work regardless of where you install it.

    Select Packages

    By default the Cygwin installation deploys a set of ‘Base’ packages, which includes Cygwin itself along with common Unix-like utilities such as grep, gawk, gzip, sed, which and bash. The full list can be viewed under the ‘Base’ treeview of packages. A critical package for running most of Gnip example commands is the ‘curl’ package. The ‘curl’ package is not deployed by default so you must select it under the ‘Web’ set of packages.

    Cygwin can deploy a wide variety of packages and utilities. If there is a certain type of work you commonly do, such as develop Python or Ruby software, or work with a database engine such as MySQL, there is likely a Cygwin package to install in support of that. Here are some examples:

    • Database
      • MySQL, ODBC. postgres, sqlite3
    • Python
      • python: Python language interpreter 2.7.5-3
      • python3: Py3K language interpreter 3.2.5-3
    • Ruby
      • ruby: Interpreted object-oriented scripting language 1.9.3-p448-1
      • ruby-json: Ruby JSON module 1.8.0-1
      • ruby-rake: Ruby build system 10.0.4-1
    • Web
      • Apache web services
    • Shell
      • bash-completion: Bash completion enhancements
    • Science
      • R: R Statistical computing language 3.0.1-1
    • Math
      • Tons of packages

    Download and Install Packages

    After making your selections, the installer will begin downloading the libraries and utilities, and any required dependencies. This stage of downloading and installing resources can take a while, potentially more than 30 minutes depending on what you selected.

    After the download and installation, my install threw the following error:

    Postinstall script errors:
    Package: bash
         bash.sh exit code 1

    The error message stated that this error may not indicate an actual problem. I have not noticed any operational issues, so if you see such an error it may not mean much.

    Downloading Historical PowerTrack Files

    OK, now that we have Cygwin with the cURL package installed, let try again to download a Historical PowerTrack job. At the end of the install there is an option to add a Windows shortcut to the Desktop.

    Start up Cygwin and type in the example Historical PowerTrack cURL command. This command uses the Unix ‘pipe’ mechanism to pass cURL output to the Unix xargs command:

    $ curl -sS -u<consoleuser>:<password> https://historical.gnip.com/accounts/<account_name>/publishers/twitter/historical/track/jobs/9n7q24hjjg/results.csv | xargs -P 8 -t -n2 curl -o

    Now, after getting Cygwin installed, you should see output similar to this:

    curl -o 20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg_2014_02_25_00_00_activities.json.gz https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/archive.replay.snapshots/snapshots/twitter/track/activity_streams/jim/2014/02/27/20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg/2014/02/25/00/00_activities.json.gz?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ73RGAUYVJZCDPHA&Expires=1396130624&Signature=WTs8JsXZwuBtLn3eIp80LrNusvA%3D
    curl -o 20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg_2014_02_25_00_10_activities.json.gz https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/archive.replay.snapshots/snapshots/twitter/track/activity_streams/jim/2014/02/27/20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg/2014/02/25/00/10_activities.json.gz?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ73RGAUYVJZCDPHA&Expires=1396130624&Signature=qBLqCMAzSZ5B5ecWcM08NZpE0%2Bw%3D
    curl -o 20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg_2014_02_25_00_20_activities.json.gz https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/archive.replay.snapshots/snapshots/twitter/track/activity_streams/jim/2014/02/27/20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg/2014/02/25/00/20_activities.json.gz?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ73RGAUYVJZCDPHA&Expires=1396130624&Signature=GJ9%2BcP%2FZWjkb0JklK%2B6%2FdYdU7VI%3D
    curl -o 20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg_2014_02_25_00_30_activities.json.gz https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/archive.replay.snapshots/snapshots/twitter/track/activity_streams/jim/2014/02/27/20140225-20140225_9n7q24hjjg/2014/02/25/00/30_activities.json.gz?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ73RGAUYVJZCDPHA&Expires=1396130624&Signature=InMDEzkzwdzz7BWSjHeHmfwZkZI%3D
      % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                     Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
      0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--     0  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                     Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
      0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--     0  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                     Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
      0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--     0
    Etc., Etc, Etc.

    Depending on the size of the job, you will continue to see this until all files for the job have been downloaded. When it’s complete, you can use the ‘ls’ command to see the contents of the directory, which should contain a list of all the files you just downloaded.


    We have successfully used cURL and Unix commands to download Historical PowerTrack files on Windows 7.