After reading this one wonders why we spend good money for commercial back-up solutions, especially in a Linux environment.
Using Explorer as the shell for Windows XP can be a bit of a drag. With the defaults, Explorer ties up a big chunk of memory and it has some issues as far as usability. If you’ve had any experience with X in the *nix world or the Mac’s OS X desktop, you know there are better solutions than the XP Desktop. Luckily, you don’t need to live with it. I’ve experimented with alternative desktops and utilities for Windows quite a bit over the years, and I think they have now matured to the point where they are usable. This piece describes what I’m using on my laptops and it is not intended to be some sort of general listing of utilities and shells.
Most folks don’t realize that you can replace the Windows default shell, Explorer. In early versions of Windows, it was easier, but it can be done in XP. There are lots of possibilites here, but I went with bblean, an offsheet of the X window manager Blackbox. Just download the zip archive, drop it on your C:\ drive and it runs. I chose it because it doesn’t use the XP registry, it has a relatively small memory footprint, has a lot of available styles, does a good job of grabbing existing desktop folders and such, is very configurable, and includes an utitlity to install it as the default shell, replacing Explorer as the Windows desktop.
I added 2 utilities that provide a bit of advanced functionality to the desktop. YzDock is a neat little application launcher for Windows that behaves like the app launcher on the OS X desktop. You can add your favorite apps to it and let it rip.
Konfabulator is desktop widget maker/manager that was ported to Windows from the Mac world. It adds little utilities to your desktop including things like weather, a basic search box, to-do list, and more. Best part is that you can easily create your own Konfabulator widgets.
Some Other Modder Resources
- Athene Operating System
Athene is a high performance multimedia operating system for desktop computers.www.rocklyte.com/athene/index.html
- xtort.net – Dedicated to being massive directory of freeware
Dedicated to being massive directory of freewareLots of links to MSFT Windows shells and tweaks.www.xtort.net/sys/sys8.php
- :: Geoshell ::
PowerPro Features. PowerPro incorporates these features: Starting Programs. Any number of small-footprint button bars (e.g. fits over title bar of maximized window).powerpro.webeddie.com/xfeatures.htm
- ShellON Features
- Aston – Desktop manager and Shell replacement for Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP
A skinnable desktop and browser program. Offers skins, themes, plug-ins, for many programs. Alternate interfaces for Windowswww.astonshell.com/aston/index.html
- Talisman Desktop. Program for desktop management, shell replacement, 32bit XP icons, themes, skins, visual styles
The creators of desktop manager and shell replacement software for the Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP system. IF you need fast, high-customized, skinable interface builder program(instead standard Windows Desktop) then you must try our software…www.lighttek.com/talisman.htm
BetaNews | Opera Voice Enables the Living Room
“Opera Software, best known for its Web browser, is venturing into the living room. Opera’s voice-enabled Electronic Program Guide (EPG), featuring IBM Embedded ViaVoice, fuses together the tasks of many different remote controls into basic voice commands.
With EPG, users tell their DVD player or cable box what they want to happen by talking to it. The announcement comes just weeks before Opera is expected to make available a voice-enabled version of its Web browser.”
Slashdot | SUSE Awarded EAL4 Certification
“Following in the wake of its previous certifications, Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 has achieved EAL4 certification on ‘an IBM eServer.’ This puts SLES9 in the same league as Windows 2000 for sales in the government sector and is the first Linux distro to achieve an EAL4 certification.””
Slashdot | QEMU Accelerator Achieves Near-Native Performance
An anonymous reader writes “QEMU is a generic and open source processor emulator which achieves a good emulation speed by using dynamic translation. Its sporting a new module called the ‘Accelerator’ which can achieve near native speeds, and currently runs on Linux 2.4.x and 2.6.x kernels. This means you could theoretically run Windows (or another OS) on a Linux machine at near native speeds without buying a commercial emulator. The catch is that although QEMU is released under various open source licenses, the Accelerator uses a free (as in beer) license because the module is a ‘closed source proprietary product.’ Fabrice Bellard does mention that he would consider open sourcing the Accelerator under certain conditions.”
I’ll be looking into this. A viable OS alternative to the great VmWare would be mighty cool.
A quick note on my tools for this little endeavor. I’m using WordPress, obviously, for the blogging engine. I’m running pretty stock at the moment, though will surely change:) I was also in need of a server based aggregator to track all those bloody feed. I went with FeedonFeeds, which does a lot of what I’m looking for in an aggregator. Most spectacularly, it does not mimic some lame 3 panel email client. I get a list of news items in chron order, new at top. Again, it’s stock, but I’ve already got a sketch for adding direct posting to WordPress. Generally, I’m happy with how fast this has gotten up and running.
Welcome to <CONTENT /> v.4! (btw, the title is an old joke by now, but I like it:) ). I’ve decided to bring version 4 of my blog into existance using WordPress because I need to do 2 things: make my life simpler and find my voice. Besides new software, I have a new URL, and I moved hosting back in-house. It’s all about total control, baby!