A colleague of mine was out for a few days this week and, for reasons of efficiency in our hectic, you-never-know-what-is-going-to-happen schedule, I moved from a back room to his desk. Of course, I had to borrow his PC with the desk, as lugging PCs around for a couple of days would be a waste of time. So, I settled down to bang out code on his Vista box, where I have been spoiled all this time on a Kubuntu 8.04 desktop running KDE 3.5. Now, to put this in perspective, my ideal IDE is screen, a shell (bash being my favorite, for now), and my array of other tools (grep, find, awk, sed, etc.). This friend of mine had installed Cygwin which, by default, runs under the DOS terminal emulator under Windows. I do not think it unfair to say that the DOS terminal emulator is, perhaps, the worst I have ever used. Being spoilt on far better terminals and perferring to work from the terminal, I went off in a quick search for what general purpose terminal emulators there are out there for Windows. Here is what I found:

• Putty - putty has a built in terminal emulator that, in my opinion, is wonderful. However, it is only for SSH connections so I can't run a Cygwin shell through putty without pulling some stupid trick like running the SSH service from Cygwin and then logging in through putty.
• Poderosa - very nice emulator, written in .NET 2.0 (so it is Windows specific) and backed, from what I understand, by the Japanese government. Poderosa sports a tabbed interface and nice point and clicky love for configuration. In that sense, it is not unlike Konsole or Gnome's console.
• Rxvt - Cygwin ships with its own terminal emulator, rxvt. This emulator is, almost inexplicably, not installed by default but, rather, an add on package. To make it the default, you also need to edit C:\cygwin\Cygwin.bat
• Terminator - Terminator is, according to the author, written primarily in Java with a smidgeon of Ruby and [what was it?]

In addition to making life quite livable on someone else's PC, I have also gone ahead and added these to my own Vista partition. As for which is my favorite...I can't really say, though I think that Poderosa is becoming a favorite as it is the roughest equivalent to Konsole that I have seen for Windows. Putty, on the other hand, has long been a companion of mine. A single, small executable, Putty is, perhaps, the most convenient way to get an SSH connection going from a borrowed computer. Rxvt is, of course, more in the *NIX tradition of terminal emulators.

The point here is less to indicate a preferance than to create a good old fashioned list.

* http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/