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Cygwin suddenly prohibitively slow (conflicts?)

I have run Cygwin under Windows XP/Pro for years without noticeable problems. I am currently running :

"CYGWIN_NT-5.1 barnhartr 1.5.25(0.156/4/2) 2008-06-12 19:34 i686 Cygwin" on a Dell Lattitude 830 portable (2.5GHz Intel CoreDuo, 3.5GB RAM, 111GB disk).

Yesterday, cygwin was fine. Today, a bash window takes 30-60 seconds to startup, and simple commands (ls, man, ps, vi) take 10-30 seconds to start running. Once they start, they seem to run fine. For example "time ls -l" in my home directory (only 6 files and 5 directories) shows:

real??? 0m9.296s
user??? 0m0.046s
sys???? 0m0.171s

Cygwin is the only reason I tolerate Windows but this performance renders it effectively useless.

I suspect a couple of things that might be affecting cygwin since yesterday:

1) I installed VMware Player 2.5.0 build-118166, but have not run it yet.
2) I loaded a VM image of about ~30GB onto my hard drive, but did not execute it.
3) Our company (SAIC) may be remotely installing Windows services, patches or even software IAW company policies. I can't necessarily? tell when this ?is happening.

Are there any known problems with VMware and cygwin? 

Does anyone have any ideas what might be causing this crippling performance degradation?

Bob Barnhart

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