Installing GrADS v2.0 on Microsoft Windows

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The OpenGrADS distribution of the Windows version of GrADS comes in two flavors. Most users will be interested in the Win32 Superpack, which bundles the GrADS binaries, user defined extensions, and all else that is needed to run GrADS on Windows. For those experienced users working on a Cygwin environment, a lighter weight version is also available, although it requires the same level of setup as on a Linux platform.

Downloading the software

These are available on sourceforge:

The Win32 Superpak is available with package grads-windows. The i686-pc-cygwin binaries are now also available under package grads-windows.

The Win32 Superpack

A full description of the Win32 Supperpack can be found in the Getting Started with Win32 GrADS document. This distribution is designed as a turn key system and under normal circumstances it requires no configuration whatsoever. The distribution comes in the form of a self-installing EXE file or as a single ZIP file for those users who do not have the necessary privileges to install software. The Win32 Superpack is designed to be relocatable: one can move the whole GrADS20/ directory to a CDROM or memory stick and take it on the road. This feature is particularly useful for bundling the software in DVDs and CDROMs containing large datasets.

For ease of maintenance, this Windows release contains exactly the same X Windows code base used in the Linux/Unix versions. As such, it requires an X server to be installed on Microsoft Windows. In previous releases of Win32 GrADS the installation of this X Server was a separate step. And it was also inconvenient, because no reliable free X Server was available. In the past few years, though, the situation has changed. The Cygwin/X Project has produced a very stable free X Server, and more recently, the Xming project is producing a fast, small, (and relocatable) X server that builds natively on Win32 without the need for the Cygwin POSIX layer (which the main GrADS binaries still use). The Xming server is currently bundled with the Win32 Superpack.

To create the illusion of simplicity, each GrADS binary fires up the Xming server whenever it starts. (However, Xming is smart enough to keep only one copy of itself running at a time.) As in previous versions of Win32 GrADS, it detects its own location and sets the relevant environment variables (GADDIR, GASCRP, etc) automatically. As long as you keep the directory tree intact, no user intervention is necessary. However, if you want to take the PCGrADS directory tree apart you can still do so, but in this case you will need to setup the environment variables yourself. See the notes on Installing GrADS on Linux/MacOS X/Unix for a description of the environment variables involved.

Binary installation for Cygwin users

If you have Cygwin installed, then proceed to install the GrADS binaries, data and extension files as described on Installing GrADS on Linux/MacOS X/Unix. The binary tarball that you want to download is grads-x.x.x-bin-i686-pc-cygwin.tar.gz from

In addition, make sure that you install the X windows client libraries from the Cygwin repository, the usual way with Cygwin's setup.exe utility. The next step is for you install an X server. As you install the X11 client libraries you may want to install the Cygwin/X sever as well. Or else, download and install Xming from

Xming is fast, compact and easily relocatable. You can find more information about Xming here:

FAQ/Known Issues

Where are the dynamic extensions we had in v1.9.0-rc1

Status: Pending

GrADS v2 does not yet dynamic extensions.

Even after setting my firewall to grant GrADS and Xming access, grads stll does not start Xming automatically.

Status: Issue appear to have been resolved with the February 25, 2008 build.

One solution is to prepare a small batch file to start Xming

c:\PCGrADS\Xming\Xming -multiwindow :7

and set the environment variable 'DISPLAY to localhost:7.0. You can do this from the control pannel (see your installation instructions.)

I miss the white screen with blue fonts of Win32e GrADS v1.8. How can I bring it back?

If you liked the previous rxvt based command line window you should be able to bring it back with something like:

rxvt -sb -sl 2048 -bg white -fg blue -fn fixedsys -e gradsdods

You should be able to create a rxvt shortcut passing the options above. Instead of the fixedsys font (option -fn above), you can use any font you choose. I particularly like the Monaco font which is a Mac programming font. You can find a free version of Monaco for Windows here. Get file MONACO.TTF, install it from the Control Panel, and then use it with rxvt

rxvt -sb -sl 2048 -fn monaco -e gradsdods

or whatever background (-bg)/foreground (-fg) color you like.

I am a Linux/Unix user that find myself forced to use Windows. How can I make it more usable?

You may find this page useful.