Install and Run on Windows 10/11

Running Medley on Windows can be done with some ease if you have WSL (Windows System for Linux). There’s now also the possibility a “native” install.

The two ways result in similar Medley experiences, but differ in how Medley is installed and run, how the Windows file system is seen, and possibly some unforeseen challenges (the “native” install is relatively new).

Medley native works within the ordinary Windows environment. Installation uses standard Windows installer and you start Medley from a standard Command (or Powershell) window. Medley native is best for users who prefer to stay (almost) exclusively in the Windows environment.

Medley on WSL and native Medley both require 64-bit Windows 10/11.

Running on Windows natively**

When running on Windows natively, Medley will be installed into a directory (of your choice). This directory will contain an isolated copy of the Cygwin environment and a version of Medley that runs within that specific Cygwin environment. This complexity, however, is largely hidden from the user and Medley behaves as if it is a native Windows app.

To install and run Medley natively

  1. Download the Medley Windows installer from under the Windows 10/11 heading here.

  2. Start the Medley installation app (e.g., by double clicking on the .exe just downloaded).

The installation app will ask for the directory in which to install Medley. Any directory that you have read/write access to will suffice. (We will refer to this directory as the Medley install_dir.)

The installation app will then copy the Medley files into the specified directory. It will also run the Cygwin installer to install Cygwin into the specified directory as well.

**Note:**  To run the installation app, you may have to bypass the Windows security protections against running .exe files downloaded from the web.  For example, if the following dialog appears, you will need to select the `More info` link and then click on the `Run anyway` button that appears.
Windows Protection Dialog


  1. Run Medley: Once it is installed, you can start Medley from either a Command window or a Powershell window. You cannot (currently) start Medley from the Start Menu or from an icon on the desktop.

    From a Command window, type:

    cd <install_dir>
    medley <flags and options>

    From a Powershell window, type:

    cd <install_dir>
    cmd /C medley <flags and options>

Documentation for the <flags and options> to the medley command can be found here

For first-time users: medley --apps --interlisp --noscroll or, equivalently, medley -a -e -n is a good starting point. This will give you a fully populated Medley system, including the applications built on Medley such as Notecards and Rooms.


  1. One anomaly of the native Windows install is that the file system from within Medley does not map directly to the file system as seen from the Windows Explorer. Specifically, within Medley, the {DSK} and {UNIX} file system root (i.e., “{DSK}/” and “{UNIX}/”) is mapped to install_dir. Medley will find the Windows C: drive as {DSK}/c/ (or “{DSK}”).

Your Medley LOGINDIR will be /home/<name>/il (or <install_dir>\home\<name>\il from the Windows perspective), where <name> is your Windows username. Medley code is stored in /medley (or <install_dir>\medley from the Windows perspective).

Also, from within Medley you can refer to any file in the Windows file system using /<drive letter>/<windows path using “/” instead of “\">. Example: C:\User\Frank\Downloads\foo in Windows will be /c/User/Frank/Downloads/foo in Medley. (Note that this means that within Medley, /medley/foo and /c/<install_dir>/medley/foo will be references to the same Windows file.)

  1. If you want to work with the Medley code using git, etc. You will probably find it easier to work with git within Cygwin rather than work with git in Windows. To work within the Medley-specific Cygwin, within a Powershell or Command window:

    cd <install_dir>
    .\bin\bash -login

    This will get you a bash terminal running under the Medley-specific Cygwin - which means that the file mappings will be the same as in Medley.

  2. The Medley-specific Cygwin install is rather minimal, so if you find you need other Linux tools to work with the Medley code, the Cygwin setup tool (which also functions as its package manager) is available at <install_dir>\cygwin\setup_x86_64.exe (in Windows) or at /cygwin/setup_x86_64.exe (from within Cygwin bash).