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Appendix A: PuTTY FAQ

This FAQ is published on the PuTTY web site, and also provided as an appendix in the manual.

Section A.1: Features supported in PuTTY

In general, if you want to know if PuTTY supports a particular feature, you should look for it on the PuTTY web site. In particular:

A.1.1 Does PuTTY support SSH v2?

Yes. SSH v2 support has been available in PuTTY since version 0.50. However, currently the default SSH protocol is v1; to select SSH v2 if your server supports both, go to the SSH panel and change the Preferred SSH protocol version option.

Public key authentication (both RSA and DSA) in SSH v2 is new in version 0.52.

A.1.2 Does PuTTY support reading OpenSSH or SSHv2 private key files?

Not at present. OpenSSH and have totally different formats for private key files, and neither one is particularly pleasant, so PuTTY has its own. We do plan to write a converter at some stage.

A.1.3 Does PuTTY support SSH v1?

Yes. SSH 1 support has always been available in PuTTY.

A.1.4 Does PuTTY support local echo?

Yes. Version 0.52 has proper support for local echo.

In version 0.51 and before, local echo could not be separated from local line editing (where you type a line of text locally, and it is not sent to the server until you press Return, so you have the chance to edit it and correct mistakes before the server sees it). New in version 0.52, local echo and local line editing are separate options, and by default PuTTY will try to determine automatically whether to enable them or not, based on which protocol you have selected and also based on hints from the server. If you have a problem with PuTTY's default choice, you can force each option to be enabled or disabled as you choose. The controls are in the Terminal panel, in the section marked "Line discipline options".

A.1.5 Does PuTTY support storing its settings in a disk file?

Not at present, although section 4.18 in the documentation gives a method of achieving the same effect.

A.1.6 Does PuTTY support full-screen mode, like a DOS box?

Yes; this is a new feature in version 0.52.

A.1.7 Does PuTTY have the ability to remember my password so I don't have to type it every time?

No, it doesn't.

Remembering your password is a bad plan for obvious security reasons: anyone who gains access to your machine while you're away from your desk can find out the remembered password, and use it, abuse it or change it.

In addition, it's not even possible for PuTTY to automatically send your password in a Telnet session, because Telnet doesn't give the client software any indication of which part of the login process is the password prompt. PuTTY would have to guess, by looking for words like "password" in the session data; and if your login program is written in something other than English, this won't work.

In SSH, remembering your password would be possible in theory, but there doesn't seem to be much point since SSH supports public key authentication, which is more flexible and more secure. See chapter 8 in the documentation for a full discussion of public key authentication.

A.1.8 Is there an option to turn off the annoying host key prompts?

No, there isn't. And there won't be. Even if you write it yourself and send us the patch, we won't accept it.

Those annoying host key prompts are the whole point of SSH. Without them, all the cryptographic technology SSH uses to secure your session is doing nothing more than making an attacker's job slightly harder; instead of sitting between you and the server with a packet sniffer, the attacker must actually subvert a router and start modifying the packets going back and forth. But that's not all that much harder than just sniffing; and without host key checking, it will go completely undetected by client or server.

Host key checking is your guarantee that the encryption you put on your data at the client end is the same encryption taken off the data at the server end; it's your guarantee that it hasn't been removed and replaced somewhere on the way. Host key checking makes the attacker's job astronomically hard, compared to packet sniffing, and even compared to subverting a router. Instead of applying a little intelligence and keeping an eye on Bugtraq, the attacker must now perform a brute-force attack against at least one military-strength cipher. That insignificant host key prompt really does make that much difference.

If you're having a specific problem with host key checking - perhaps you want an automated batch job to make use of PSCP or Plink, and the interactive host key prompt is hanging the batch process - then the right way to fix it is to add the correct host key to the Registry in advance. That way, you retain the important feature of host key checking: the right key will be accepted and the wrong ones will not. Adding an option to turn host key checking off completely is the wrong solution and we will not do it.

A.1.9 Will you write an SSH server for the PuTTY suite, to go with the client?

No. The only reason we might want to would be if we could easily re-use existing code and significantly cut down the effort. We don't believe this is the case; there just isn't enough common ground between an SSH client and server to make it worthwhile.

If someone else wants to use bits of PuTTY in the process of writing a Windows SSH server, they'd be perfectly welcome to of course, but I really can't see it being a lot less effort for us to do that than it would be for us to write a server from the ground up. We don't have time, and we don't have motivation. The code is available if anyone else wants to try it.

Section A.2: Ports to other operating systems

The eventual goal is for PuTTY to be a multi-platform program, able to run on at least Windows, MacOS and Unix. Whether this will actually ever happen I have no idea, but it is the plan. A Mac port has been started, but is only half-finished and currently not moving very fast.

Porting will become easier once PuTTY has a generalised porting layer, drawing a clear line between platform-dependent and platform-independent code. The general intention is for this porting layer to evolve naturally as part of the process of doing the first port. One particularly nasty part of this will be separating the many configuration options into platform-dependent and platform-independent ones; for example, the options controlling when the Windows System menu appears will be pretty much meaningless under X11 or perhaps other windowing systems, whereas Telnet Passive Mode is universal and shouldn't need to be specified once for each platform.

A.2.1 Will there be a port to Windows CE?

Probably not in the particularly near future. Despite sharing large parts of the Windows API, in practice WinCE doesn't appear to be significantly easier to port to than a totally different operating system.

However, PuTTY on portable devices would clearly be a useful thing, so in the long term I hope there will be a WinCE port.

A.2.2 Is there a port to Windows 3.1?

PuTTY is a 32-bit application from the ground up, so it won't run on Windows 3.1 as a native 16-bit program; and it would be very hard to port it to do so, because of Windows 3.1's vile memory allocation mechanisms.

However, it is possible in theory to compile the existing PuTTY source in such a way that it will run under Win32s (an extension to Windows 3.1 to let you run 32-bit programs). In order to do this you'll need the right kind of C compiler - modern versions of Visual C at least have stopped being backwards compatible to Win32s. Also, the last time we tried this it didn't work very well.

If you're interested in running PuTTY under Windows 3.1, help and testing in this area would be very welcome!

A.2.3 Will there be a port to the Mac?

A Mac port was started once and is half-finished, but development has been static for some time and the main PuTTY code has moved on, so it's not clear how quickly development would resume even if developer effort were available.

A.2.4 Will there be a port to Unix?

I hope so, if only so that I can have an xterm-like program that supports exactly the same terminal emulation as PuTTY. If and when we do do a Unix port, it will have a local-terminal back end so it can be used like an xterm, rather than only being usable as a network utility.

A.2.5 Will there be a port to EPOC?

I hope so, but given that ports aren't really progressing very fast even on systems the developers do already know how to program for, it might be a long time before any of us get round to learning a new system and doing the port for that.

Section A.3: Embedding PuTTY in other programs

A.3.1 Is the SSH or Telnet code available as a DLL?

No, it isn't. It would take a reasonable amount of rewriting for this to be possible, and since the PuTTY project itself doesn't believe in DLLs (they make installation more error-prone) none of us has taken the time to do it.

Most of the code cleanup work would be a good thing to happen in general, so if anyone feels like helping, we wouldn't say no.

A.3.2 Is the SSH or Telnet code available as a Visual Basic component?

No, it isn't. None of the PuTTY team uses Visual Basic, and none of us has any particular need to make SSH connections from a Visual Basic application. In addition, all the preliminary work to turn it into a DLL would be necessary first; and furthermore, we don't even know how to write VB components.

If someone offers to do some of this work for us, we might consider it, but unless that happens I can't see VB integration being anywhere other than the very bottom of our priority list.

A.3.3 How can I use PuTTY to make an SSH connection from within another program?

Probably your best bet is to use Plink, the command-line connection tool. If you can start Plink as a second Windows process, and arrange for your primary process to be able to send data to the Plink process, and receive data from it, through pipes, then you should be able to make SSH connections from your program.

This is what CVS for Windows does, for example.

Section A.4: Details of PuTTY's operation

A.4.1 What terminal type does PuTTY use?

For most purposes, PuTTY can be considered to be an xterm terminal.

PuTTY also supports some terminal control sequences not supported by the real xterm: notably the Linux console sequences that reconfigure the colour palette, and the title bar control sequences used by DECterm (which are different from the xterm ones; PuTTY supports both).

By default, PuTTY announces its terminal type to the server as xterm. If you have a problem with this, you can reconfigure it to say something else; vt220 might help if you have trouble.

A.4.2 Where does PuTTY store its data?

PuTTY stores most of its data (saved sessions, SSH host keys) in the Registry. The precise location is


and within that area, saved sessions are stored under Sessions while host keys are stored under SshHostKeys.

PuTTY also requires a random number seed file, to improve the unpredictability of randomly chosen data needed as part of the SSH cryptography. This is stored by default in your Windows home directory (%HOMEDRIVE%\%HOMEPATH%), or in the actual Windows directory (such as C:\WINDOWS) if the home directory doesn't exist, for example if you're using Win95. If you want to change the location of the random number seed file, you can put your chosen pathname in the Registry, at


Section A.5: HOWTO questions

A.5.1 How can I make PuTTY start up maximised?

Create a Windows shortcut to start PuTTY from, and set it as "Run Maximized".

A.5.2 How can I create a Windows shortcut to start a particular saved session directly?

To run a PuTTY session saved under the name "mysession", create a Windows shortcut that invokes PuTTY with a command line like

\path\name\to\putty.exe @mysession

A.5.3 How can I start an SSH session straight from the command line?

Use the command line putty -ssh Alternatively, create a saved session that specifies the SSH protocol, and start the saved session as shown in question A.5.2.

A.5.4 How do I copy and paste between PuTTY and other Windows applications?

Copy and paste works similarly to the X Window System. You use the left mouse button to select text in the PuTTY window. The act of selection automatically copies the text to the clipboard: there is no need to press Ctrl-Ins or Ctrl-C or anything else. In fact, pressing Ctrl-C will send a Ctrl-C character to the other end of your connection (just like it does the rest of the time), which may have unpleasant effects. The only thing you need to do, to copy text to the clipboard, is to select it.

To paste the clipboard contents into a PuTTY window, by default you click the right mouse button. If you have a three-button mouse and are used to X applications, you can configure pasting to be done by the middle button instead, but this is not the default because most Windows users don't have a middle button at all.

You can also paste by pressing Shift-Ins.

A.5.5 How do I use X forwarding and port forwarding? I can't find the Tunnels panel.

This is a new feature in version 0.52. You should upgrade.

A.5.6 How do I use all PuTTY's features (public keys, port forwarding, SSH v2, etc.) in PSCP, PSFTP and Plink?

The command-line tools are currently rather short of command line options to enable this sort of thing. However, you can use most of PuTTY's features if you create a PuTTY saved session, and then use the name of the saved session on the command line in place of a hostname. This works for PSCP, PSFTP and Plink (but don't expect port forwarding in the file transfer applications!).

A.5.7 How do I use PSCP.EXE? When I double-click it gives me a command prompt window which then closes instantly.

PSCP is a command-line application, not a GUI application. If you run it without arguments, it will simply print a help message and terminate.

To use PSCP properly, run it from a Command Prompt window. See chapter 5 in the documentation for more details.

A.5.8 How do I use PSCP to copy a file whose name has spaces in?

If PSCP is using the traditional SCP protocol, this is confusing. If you're specifying a file at the local end, you just use one set of quotes as you would normally do:

pscp "local filename with spaces" user@host:
pscp user@host:myfile "local filename with spaces"

But if the filename you're specifying is on the remote side, you have to use backslashes and two sets of quotes:

pscp user@host:"\"remote filename with spaces\"" local_filename
pscp local_filename user@host:"\"remote filename with spaces\""

Worse still, in a remote-to-local copy you have to specify the local file name explicitly, otherwise PSCP will complain that they don't match (unless you specified the -unsafe option). The following command will give an error message:

c:\>pscp user@host:"\"oo er\"" .
warning: remote host tried to write to a file called 'oo er'
         when we requested a file called '"oo er"'.

Instead, you need to specify the local file name in full:

c:\>pscp user@host:"\"oo er\"" "oo er"

If PSCP is using the newer SFTP protocol, none of this is a problem, and all filenames with spaces in are specified using a single pair of quotes in the obvious way:

pscp "local file" user@host:
pscp user@host:"remote file" .

Section A.6: Troubleshooting

A.6.1 Why do I see "Incorrect MAC received on packet"?

This is due to a bug in old SSH 2 servers distributed by Version 2.3.0 and below of their SSH 2 server constructs Message Authentication Codes in the wrong way, and expects the client to construct them in the same wrong way. PuTTY constructs the MACs correctly by default, and hence these old servers will fail to work with it.

If you are using PuTTY version 0.52 or better, this should work automatically: PuTTY should detect the buggy servers from their version number announcement, and automatically start to construct its MACs in the same incorrect manner as they do, so it will be able to work with them.

If you are using PuTTY version 0.51 or below, you can enable the workaround by going to the SSH panel and ticking the box labelled "Imitate SSH 2 MAC bug". It's possible that you might have to do this with 0.52 as well, if a buggy server exists that PuTTY doesn't know about.

In this context MAC stands for Message Authentication Code. It's a cryptographic term, and it has nothing at all to do with Ethernet MAC (Media Access Control) addresses.

A.6.2 I clicked on a colour in the Colours panel, and the colour didn't change in my terminal.

That isn't how you're supposed to use the Colours panel.

During the course of a session, PuTTY potentially uses all the colours listed in the Colours panel. It's not a question of using only one of them and you choosing which one; PuTTY will use them all. The purpose of the Colours panel is to let you adjust the appearance of all the colours. So to change the colour of the cursor, for example, you would select "Cursor Colour", press the "Modify" button, and select a new colour from the dialog box that appeared. Similarly, if you want your session to appear in green, you should select "Default Foreground" and press "Modify". Clicking on "ANSI Green" won't turn your session green; it will only allow you to adjust the shade of green used when PuTTY is instructed by the server to display green text.

A.6.3 Plink on Windows 95 says it can't find WS2_32.DLL.

Plink requires the extended Windows network library, WinSock version 2. This is installed as standard on Windows 98 and above, and on Windows NT, and even on later versions of Windows 95; but early Win95 installations don't have it.

In order to use Plink on these systems, you will need to download the WinSock 2 upgrade:

A.6.4 My PuTTY sessions close after an hour and tell me "Server failed host key check".

This is a bug in all versions of PuTTY up to and including 0.51. SSH v2 servers from will require the key exchange to be repeated one hour after the start of the connection, and PuTTY will get this wrong.

Upgrade to version 0.52 and the problem should go away.

A.6.5 After trying to establish an SSH 2 connection, PuTTY says "Out of memory" and dies.

If this happens just while the connection is starting up, this often indicates that for some reason the client and server have failed to establish a session encryption key. Somehow, they have performed calculations that should have given each of them the same key, but have ended up with different keys; so data encrypted by one and decrypted by the other looks like random garbage.

This causes an "out of memory" error because the first encrypted data PuTTY expects to see is the length of an SSH message. Normally this will be something well under 100 bytes. If the decryption has failed, PuTTY will see a completely random length in the region of two gigabytes, and will try to allocate enough memory to store this non-existent message. This will immediately lead to it thinking it doesn't have enough memory, and panicking.

If this happens to you, it is quite likely to still be a PuTTY bug and you should report it (although it might be a bug in your SSH server instead); but it doesn't necessarily mean you've actually run out of memory.

A.6.6 When I run full-colour applications, I see areas of black space where colour ought to be.

You almost certainly need to enable the "Use background colour to erase screen" setting in the Terminal panel. Note that if you do this in mid-session, it won't take effect until you reset the terminal (see question A.6.7).

A.6.7 When I change some terminal settings, nothing happens.

Some of the terminal options (notably Auto Wrap and background-colour screen erase) actually represent the default setting, rather than the currently active setting. The server can send sequences that modify these options in mid-session, but when the terminal is reset (by server action, or by you choosing "Reset Terminal" from the System menu) the defaults are restored.

If you want to change one of these options in the middle of a session, you will find that the change does not immediately take effect. It will only take effect once you reset the terminal.

A.6.8 I can't type characters that require the AltGr key.

In PuTTY version 0.51, the AltGr key was broken. Upgrade to version 0.52.

A.6.9 My PuTTY sessions unexpectedly close after they are idle for a while.

Some types of firewall, and almost any router doing Network Address Translation (NAT, also known as IP masquerading), will forget about a connection through them if the connection does nothing for too long. This will cause the connection to be rudely cut off when contact is resumed.

You can try to combat this by telling PuTTY to send keepalives: packets of data which have no effect on the actual session, but which reassure the router or firewall that the network connection is still active and worth remembering about.

Keepalives don't solve everything, unfortunately; although they cause greater robustness against this sort of router, they can also cause a loss of robustness against network dropouts. See section 4.12.3 in the documentation for more discussion of this.

A.6.10 PuTTY's network connections time out too quickly when network connectivity is temporarily lost.

This is a Windows problem, not a PuTTY problem. The timeout value can't be set on per application or per session basis. To increase the TCP timeout globally, you need to tinker with the Registry.

On Windows 95, 98 or ME, the registry key you need to change is


(it must be of type DWORD in Win95, or String in Win98/ME).

On Windows NT or 2000, the registry key is


and it must be of type DWORD.

Set the key's value to something like 10. This will cause Windows to try harder to keep connections alive instead of abandoning them.

A.6.11 When I cat a binary file, I get `PuTTYPuTTYPuTTY' on my command line.

Don't do that, then.

This is designed behaviour; when PuTTY receives the character Control-E from the remote server, it interprets it as a request to identify itself, and so it sends back the string "PuTTY" as if that string had been entered at the keyboard. Control-E should only be sent by programs that are prepared to deal with the response. Writing a binary file to your terminal is likely to output many Control-E characters, and cause this behaviour. Don't do it. It's a bad plan.

To mitigate the effects, you could configure the answerback string to be empty (see section 4.3.6); but writing binary files to your terminal is likely to cause various other unpleasant behaviour, so this is only a small remedy.

A.6.12 When I cat a binary file, my window title changes to a nonsense string.

Don't do that, then.

It is designed behaviour that PuTTY should have the ability to adjust the window title on instructions from the server. Normally the control sequence that does this should only be sent deliberately, by programs that know what they are doing and intend to put meaningful text in the window title. Writing a binary file to your terminal runs the risk of sending the same control sequence by accident, and cause unexpected changes in the window title. Don't do it.

A.6.13 My keyboard stops working once PuTTY displays the password prompt.

No, it doesn't. PuTTY just doesn't display the password you type, so that someone looking at your screen can't see what it is.

Unlike the Windows login prompts, PuTTY doesn't display the password as a row of asterisks either. This is so that someone looking at your screen can't even tell how long your password is, which might be valuable information.

A.6.14 One or more function keys don't do what I expected in a server-side application.

If you've already tried all the relevant options in the PuTTY Keyboard panel, you may need to mail the PuTTY maintainers and ask.

It is not usually helpful just to tell us which application, which server operating system, and which key isn't working; in order to replicate the problem we would need to have a copy of every operating system, and every application, that anyone has ever complained about.

PuTTY responds to function key presses by sending a sequence of control characters to the server. If a function key isn't doing what you expect, it's likely that the character sequence your application is expecting to receive is not the same as the one PuTTY is sending. Therefore what we really need to know is what sequence the application is expecting.

The simplest way to investigate this is to find some other terminal environment, in which that function key does work; and then investigate what sequence the function key is sending in that situation. One reasonably easy way to do this on a Unix system is to type the command cat, and then press the function key. This is likely to produce output of the form ^[[11~. You can also do this in PuTTY, to find out what sequence the function key is producing in that. Then you can mail the PuTTY maintainers and tell us "I wanted the F1 key to send ^[[11~, but instead it's sending ^[OP, can this be done?", or something similar.

You should still read the Feedback page on the PuTTY website (also provided as appendix B in the manual), and follow the guidelines contained in that.

Section A.7: Security questions

A.7.1 Is it safe for me to download PuTTY and use it on a public PC?

It depends on whether you trust that PC. If you don't trust the public PC, don't use PuTTY on it, and don't use any other software you plan to type passwords into either. It might be watching your keystrokes, or it might tamper with the PuTTY binary you download. There is no program safe enough that you can run it on an actively malicious PC and get away with typing passwords into it.

If you do trust the PC, then it's probably OK to use PuTTY on it (but if you don't trust the network, then the PuTTY download might be tampered with, so it would be better to carry PuTTY with you on a floppy).

A.7.2 What does PuTTY leave on a system? How can I clean up after it?

PuTTY will leave some Registry entries, and a random seed file, on the PC (see question A.4.2). If you are using PuTTY on a public PC, or somebody else's PC, you might want to clean these up when you leave. You can do that automatically, by running the command putty -cleanup.

A.7.3 How come PuTTY now supports DSA, when the website used to say how insecure it was?

DSA has a major weakness if badly implemented: it relies on a random number generator to far too great an extent. If the random number generator produces a number an attacker can predict, the DSA private key is exposed - meaning that the attacker can log in as you on all systems that accept that key.

The PuTTY policy changed because the developers were informed of ways to implement DSA which do not suffer nearly as badly from this weakness, and indeed which don't need to rely on random numbers at all. For this reason we now believe PuTTY's DSA implementation is probably OK. However, if you have the choice, we still recommend you use RSA instead.

Section A.8: Administrative questions

A.8.1 Would you like me to register you a nicer domain name?

No, thank you. Even if you can find one (most of them seem to have been registered already, by people who didn't ask whether we actually wanted it before they applied), we're happy with the PuTTY web site being exactly where it is. It's not hard to find (just type "putty" into and we're the first link returned), and we don't believe the administrative hassle of moving the site would be worth the benefit.

In addition, if we did want a custom domain name, we would want to run it ourselves, so we knew for certain that it would continue to point where we wanted it, and wouldn't suddenly change or do strange things. Having it registered for us by a third party who we don't even know is not the best way to achieve this.

A.8.2 Would you like free web hosting for the PuTTY web site?

We already have some, thanks.

A.8.3 Why don't you move PuTTY to SourceForge?

Partly, because we don't want to move the web site location (see question A.8.1).

Also, security reasons. PuTTY is a security product, and as such it is particularly important to guard the code and the web site against unauthorised modifications which might introduce subtle security flaws. Therefore, we prefer that the CVS repository, web site and FTP site remain where they are, under the direct control of system administrators we know and trust personally, rather than being run by a large organisation full of people we've never met and which is known to have had breakins in the past.

No offence to SourceForge; I think they do a wonderful job. But they're not ideal for everyone, and in particular they're not ideal for us.

A.8.4 Why can't I subscribe to the putty-bugs mailing list?

Because you're not a member of the PuTTY core development team. The putty-bugs mailing list is not a general newsgroup-like discussion forum; it's a contact address for the core developers, and an internal mailing list for us to discuss things among ourselves. If we opened it up for everybody to subscribe to, it would turn into something more like a newsgroup and we would be completely overwhelmed by the volume of traffic. It's hard enough to keep up with the list as it is.

A.8.5 If putty-bugs isn't a general-subscription mailing list, what is?

There isn't one, that we know of.

If someone else wants to set up a mailing list for PuTTY users to help each other with common problems, that would be fine with us; but the PuTTY team would almost certainly not have the time to read it, so any questions the list couldn't answer would have to be forwarded on to us by the questioner. In any case, it's probably better to use the established newsgroup for this purpose.

A.8.6 How can I donate to PuTTY development?

Please, please don't feel you have to. PuTTY is completely free software, and not shareware. We think it's very important that everybody who wants to use PuTTY should be able to, whether they have any money or not; so the last thing we would want is for a PuTTY user to feel guilty because they haven't paid us any money. If you want to keep your money, please do keep it. We wouldn't dream of asking for any.

Having said all that, if you still really want to give us money, we won't argue :-) The easiest way for us to accept donations is if you go to, and deposit your donation in account number 174769. Then send us e-mail to let us know you've done so (otherwise we might not notice for months!).

Small donations (tens of dollars or tens of euros) will probably be spent on beer or curry, which helps motivate our volunteer team to continue doing this for the world. Larger donations will be spent on something that actually helps development, if we can find anything (perhaps new hardware, or a copy of Windows 2000), but if we can't find anything then we'll just distribute the money among the developers. If you want to be sure your donation is going towards something worthwhile, ask us first. If you don't like these terms, feel perfectly free not to donate. We don't mind.

A.8.7 Where can I buy silly putty?

You're looking at the wrong web site; the only PuTTY we know about here is the name of a computer program.

If you want the kind of putty you can buy as an executive toy, the PuTTY team can personally recommend Thinking Putty, which you can buy from Crazy Aaron's Putty World, at

A.8.8 How do I pronounce PuTTY?

Exactly like the normal word "putty". Just like the stuff you put on window frames. (One of the reasons it's called PuTTY is because it makes Windows usable. :-)

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