My lean windows

Let's split this up in several parts:
  1. my GUI replacement Blackbox4win and its plugins
  2. some more tools for having a useable shell
  3. some misc. tools I like to have running residently
  4. some more tools I am using frequently but which are loaded on-demand
  5. Little Helpers - some more thoughts about tools with more or less overhead
  6. Zum Seitenanfang


    Blackbox4Windows - My Working Environment

    My favourite Window Manager in linux, Blackbox, has a windows relative: Blackbox4Windows.
    It is a lean window manager, with the emphasis on lean. Did I say I consider it being a lean window manager? Of course it looks nice as well (featuring window skinning by using a plugin). Support is great - choose between the forum, a wiki and a mailing list (Archives). Here is the FAQ. Also, there's an impressive list of plugins, too much for me to keep track of (but you can find some that I am using below, along with their configuration examples). (The Plugins even have a forum of their own now!)
    Finally, if you want to have the latest version with often very cool new features, but possibly a bit less well tested than the official releases, then have a look at the nightlies. (That's just short for nightly build, something compiled off the latest code as it is almost in-between the hands of the developers.) I've made very good experiences with it.

    Care to have a look first?

    Screenshot(s)
    preview of my Blackbox for windows desktop
    BB4win 0.90 nightly with the following plugins: BBKeys, BBNote, BBSystemBarEx, BBwinskin, BBpager, BBIcons, BBSlit, BBSysmon and Multiamp
    More on the other tools visible in the screenshot below.

    Setting up BB4Win

    As you might know, Explorer.exe is not only working as a file manager in your windows box, but also as a "shell", that means as the program in charge of handling the User Interface, along with all the windows, mouse and keyboard handler etc. This one is the one we're going to be be replacing.
    Normally, you'd just launch a "blackbox.exe --install" and that will replace your current shell (normally explorer.exe) with blackbox. But I'd much more recommend using another tool, ShellOn (or anyone with similar function), to allow you to select at boot-time which shell to use. So you can easily log into explorer.exe if something goes wrong or you need something that you think only explorer.exe can provide. So let's assume you're going along:

    1. Download Blackbox and unpack it in a directory of your choice.
    2. Download and install ShellOn.
    3. Add Explorer and Blackbox as your shells in ShellOn's configuration:
    4. Navigate to your blackbox installation directory and adjust your configuration files. See the next paragraph for more details.
    5. Reboot.
    (Keep in mind that changing the registry value which denotes your shell may trigger some alerts by security programs which suspect that some malware is trying to use this setting to have itself auto-started. In this special case we're having here, this alert can be ignored.)
    Here are my central blackbox configuration files:

    $BLACKBOXDIR/blackbox.rc

    session.screen0.slit.placement: CenterRight session.screen0.slit.direction: Vertical session.screen0.slit.onTop: true session.screen0.slit.autoHide: true session.screen0.toolbar.alpha.value: 100 session.screen0.toolbar.onTop: true session.screen0.toolbar.autoHide: false session.screen0.toolbar.placement: BottomCenter session.screen0.toolbar.widthPercent: 0 session.screen0.workspaces: 3 session.screen0.focusLastWindow: true session.screen0.windowPlacement: SmartPlacementColumns session.screen0.colPlacementDirection: TopToBottom session.screen0.workspaceNames: work,office,mmedia session.screen0.focusNewWindows: false session.screen0.rowPlacementDirection: RightToLeft session.screen0.fullMaximization: false session.screen0.strftimeFormat: %#d.%#m.%y - %H:%M session.screen0.edgeSnapThreshold: 20 session.screen0.focusModel: SloppyFocus session.styleFile: C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Styles\northsea session.cacheLife: 5 session.cacheMax: 200 session.opaqueMove: false session.menuFile: C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\menu.rc session.colorsPerChannel: 4 session.imageDither: false session.autoRaiseDelay: 400

    $BLACKBOXDIR/bsetroot.rc

    */.blackbox/=c:/programme/tools/shell/blackbox */.blackbox/backgrounds=styles/backgrounds c:\blackbox\backgrounds\=styles/backgrounds *blackbox=./ =styles/backgrounds/

    $BLACKBOXDIR/extensions.rc

    blackbox.workspace.wheeling: true blackbox.appearance.bullet.unix: true blackbox.appearance.metrics.unix: true blackbox.editor: "C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Plugins\bbnote103.exe" blackbox.tasks.followActive: false blackbox.tasks.currentOnly: true blackbox.slit.transparenxy: true blackbox.slit.alpha: 160 blackbox.menu.transparency: true blackbox.menu.alpha: 220 blackbox.menu.scrollSpeed: 10 blackbox.submenu.openDelay: 40 ! blackbox.windowHooks: true

    $BLACKBOXDIR/plugins.rc

    Plugins\BBDDE.dll Plugins\BBKeys.dll Plugins\BBPager.dll Plugins\BBSystemBarEx.dll &Plugins\BBIcons.dll Plugins\BBSlit.dll &Plugins\BBSysmon.dll Plugins\BBnote.dll Plugins\multiamp.dll &Plugins\BBWinskin.dll

    $BLACKBOXDIR/menu.rc

    [begin] (Bang!) [exec] (Explorer) {c:\W2k\explorer.exe} [exec] (X-File) {c:\programme\tools\xpt\2004\x-file.exe} [exec] (Xplorer²) {c:\programme\tools\shell\x2\xplorer2.exe} [exec] (CommandPrompt) {c:\w2k\system32\cmd.exe} [exec] (X-Pad) {c:\programme\tools\xpt\2004\x-pad.exe} [exec] (UEdit) {c:\programme\tools\editing\ultraedit\uedit32} [exec] (BBNote) {c:\programme\tools\shell\blackbox\Plugins\bbnote103.exe} [exec] (InCtrl5) {c:\programme\tools\cleaning\InCtrl5\inctrl5.exe} [exec] (GPGTray) {c:\programme\tools\privacy\GnuPG\GPGShell\gpgtray.exe} [nop] (------) [path] (Net) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\All Users\Startmenü\Net"} [path] (Tools) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\All Users\Startmenü\Tools"} [path] (Sec) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\All Users\Startmenü\Sec"} [path] (Updates) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\All Users\Startmenü\Updates"} [path] (Programme) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\All Users\Startmenü\Programme} [path] (Desktop) {"C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Administrator\Desktop"} [nop] (------) [workspaces] (Workspaces) [submenu] (blackbox) [exec] (Control Panel) {c:\w2k\explorer.exe /root,,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}\::{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}} [config] (Configure Blackbox) [submenu] (Default Shell) [exec] (install Blackbox) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Blackbox.exe -install} [exec] (uninstall Blackbox) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Blackbox.exe -uninstall} [end] [stylesmenu] (Styles) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Styles} [submenu] (Docs) [exec] (Readme) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Docs\index.html} [exec] (Change Log) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Docs\changes.txt} [exec] (License) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Docs\license.html} [exec] (About Blackbox) {C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Blackbox.exe -help} [aboutplugins] (About Plugins) [aboutstyle] (about style) [end] [exec] (Toggle SoundEffects) {@bbsfxToggle} [toggleplugins] (Toggle Plugins) [editplugins] (Edit plugins.rc) [editextensions] (Edit extensions.rc) [editmenu] (edit menu.rc) [editstyle] (edit style) [reconfig] (reconfigure) [restart] (restart) [exit] (exit blackbox) [end] [submenu] (Shutdown Menu) [lockworkstation] (Lock Workstation) [shutdown] (Shutdown) [reboot] (Reboot) [logoff] (Log Off) [hibernate] (Hibernate) [suspend] (Suspend) [exit] (exit just blackbox) [end] [nop] (------) [shutdown] (Shutdown) [end]

    Until I am going to find the time to document the settings in these configuration files, I'd suggest reading the dox/faq/searching the forums for detailed information about what settings affect what behaviour. I've just posted them above so you can see what is a running (well, at least in my case, that is) setup, get an idea of how (easily) bb can be configured and maybe draw some inspiration from it.

    Then, there's my only very very slightly modified version of the northsea style along with the corresponding wallpaper image (to be put in $BLACKBOXDIR/styles and $BLACKBOXDIR/styles/backgrounds, respectively).
    More styles can be found at the usual places: themes.freshmeat.net, deviantart.org etc.

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    Blackbox Plugins

    BBKeys

    BBKeys is a plugin which allows you to define keyboard shortcuts for all kinds of things: regular commands like launching a program (I'm using Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O to launch Opera, e.g.), switch between workspaces (e.g. with Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Left/Right), adjust sound volume, handle windows (make them larger, wider, smaller, always-on-top, minimize etc.) and now even send special Blackbox commands called Bro@ms that allow you to access even more cool things (like special features of other plugins).

    Here's my $BLACKBOXDIR/plugins/bbkeys.rc:
    KeyToGrab(Left), WithModifier(Alt+Ctrl+Shift), WithAction(PrevWorkspace) KeyToGrab(Right), WithModifier(Alt+Ctrl+Shift), WithAction(NextWorkspace) KeyToGrab(Up), WithModifier(Alt+Ctrl+Shift), WithAction(ShadeWindow) ! This moves the current window to another wspace, not pixel-wise in it. KeyToGrab(Left), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(MoveWindowLeft) KeyToGrab(Right), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(MoveWindowRight) KeyToGrab(F2), WithModifier(Alt), WithAction(Run) KeyToGrab(F6), WithModifier(), WithAction(ShowMenu) KeyToGrab(F6), WithModifier(Shift), WithAction(ShowWorkspaceMenu) KeyToGrab(F10), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Logoff) KeyToGrab(F10), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(LockWorkstation) KeyToGrab(F11), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Reboot) KeyToGrab(F11), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(Restart) KeyToGrab(F12), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Shutdown) KeyToGrab(F12), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(Hibernate) KeyToGrab(F12), WithModifier(Alt+Win), WithAction(Suspend) KeyToGrab(2), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\x2\xplorer2.exe) KeyToGrab(3), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Security\Scanner\TroDefSuite-3\trods-drei.exe) KeyToGrab(B), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\MultiMedia\FooBar\foobar2000\foobar2000.exe) KeyToGrab(D), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(c:\w2k\system32\cmd.exe) KeyToGrab(D), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(c:\w2k\system32\control.exe desk.cpl) KeyToGrab(E), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(c:\w2k\explorer.exe /e,c:\) KeyToGrab(F), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\MultiMedia\FooBar\foobar2000\foobar2000.exe) KeyToGrab(G), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(GatherWindows) KeyToGrab(H), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(MaximizeHorizontal) KeyToGrab(I), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\WonderfulIcon\wonderfl.exe) KeyToGrab(K), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\NEt\Browser\K-Meleon\k-meleon.exe) KeyToGrab(K), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(c:\programme\tools\shell\blackbox\Plugins\bbnote103.exe c:\programme\tools\shell\blackbox\plugins\bbkeys.rc) KeyToGrab(M), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis("C:\Programme\Net\Mail & News\MailWasher\MailWasher.exe") KeyToGrab(M), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(EditMenu) KeyToGrab(N), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(c:\programme\tools\shell\blackbox\Plugins\bbnote103.exe) KeyToGrab(N), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Minimize) KeyToGrab(O), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Net\Browser\Opera\Opera.exe /nosplashscreen) KeyToGrab(P), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Net\Proxomitron\Proxomitron.exe) KeyToGrab(P), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(EditPlugins) KeyToGrab(P), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(TogglePlugins) KeyToGrab(Q), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Quit) KeyToGrab(R), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Run) KeyToGrab(R), WithModifier(Win+Alt), WithAction(Restart) KeyToGrab(R), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(Reconfigure) KeyToGrab(S), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\ShellWM\shellwm.exe) KeyToGrab(S), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(EditStyle) KeyToGrab(T), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@BBTrans WindowToggle) KeyToGrab(T), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ToggleTray) KeyToGrab(U), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\Editing\Ultraedit\uedit32.exe) KeyToGrab(V), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(MaximizeVertical) KeyToGrab(W), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis("C:\Programme\Apps\MS Office\Office\Winword.exe") KeyToGrab(W), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\MultiMedia\Winamp\winamp.exe) KeyToGrab(X), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\XPT\2004\x-pad.exe) KeyToGrab(X), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(MaximizeWindow) KeyToGrab(Z), WithModifier(Ctrl+Shift+Alt), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(C:\Programme\Tools\XPT\2004\x-file.exe) KeyToGrab(1), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Workspace1) KeyToGrab(2), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Workspace2) KeyToGrab(3), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Workspace3) KeyToGrab(PageUp), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Raise) KeyToGrab(PageDown), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Lower) KeyToGrab(Delete), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(Close) KeyToGrab(Insert), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(StickWindow) KeyToGrab(Home), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(http://desktopian.org/bb/) KeyToGrab(End), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@bbsfxToggle) KeyToGrab(Pause), WithModifier(Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(control.exe sysdm.cpl) KeyToGrab(#), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maPower) KeyToGrab(Enter), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maPlay) KeyToGrab(Spacebar), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maPause) KeyToGrab(Left), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maPrev) KeyToGrab(Right), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maNext) KeyToGrab(Add), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maOpenFile) KeyToGrab(Mul), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maMenu) KeyToGrab(Up), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maVolumeUp) KeyToGrab(Down), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maVolumeDown) ! KeyToGrab(Num0), WithModifier(Ctrl+Win), WithAction(ExecCommand), DoThis(@maStop)

    BBNote

    BBNote is both a plugin and an executable program. The executable program is a lightweigth text editor, perfectly suited to edit those small text configuration files. The plugin is loaded into blackbox and has bb call the executable for some standard editing tasks.

    BBNote has been around for a very long time, and, unlike most other plugins, the settings are specified in a bbnote.ini file, whereas the bbnote.rc file contains style specs.
    So, first, here is my $BLACKBOXDIR/plugins/bbnote.ini:
    [bbnote] textfont=lucida console textfontsize=10 textfontweight=400 open_new_window=0 smarttabs=0 writetabs=1 tabsize=4 wrapcursor=0 mousewheel=10 wx0=318 wy0=69 wxl=704 wyl=489 searchfor=.rc replaceby= searchmode=0 lastdirectory=C:\Programme\Tools\Shell\Blackbox\Plugins
    Then, here's my $BLACKBOXDIR/plugins/bbnote.rc:
    (you might want to experiment, possibly bbnote can also read in the settings of bb's main style and you don't have to specify something there. just try what happens when you rename the file. If you don't like the result, simply put the file back in place.)
    style.name: bbnote.rc style.author: grischk style.date: 02/2003 style.credits: style.comments: stylefile for BBNote toolbar: raised bevel1 solid toolbar.color: black toolbar.textcolor: #adaeaf toolbar.justify: center toolbar.font: tahoma toolbar.fontheight: 12 toolbar.fontweight: 700 toolbar.label: flat solid toolbar.label.color: black toolbar.label.textcolor: #aeadae toolbar.windowlabel: flat solid toolbar.windowlabel.color: #454647 toolbar.windowlabel.textcolor: white toolbar.clock: flat solid toolbar.clock.color: black toolbar.clock.textcolor: #adaeaf toolbar.button: flat solid toolbar.button.color: #777674 toolbar.button.piccolor: #c5c4c5 toolbar.button.pressed: flat solid toolbar.button.pressed.color: #808181 toolbar.button.pressed.piccolor: #e1e1e2 menu.title: flat solid menu.title.color: #5d5c5d menu.title.textcolor: #c5c5c3 menu.title.justify: left menu.title.font: tahoma menu.title.fontheight: 12 menu.title.fontweight: 700 menu.frame: flat solid menu.frame.color: gray22 menu.frame.textcolor: #e5e5e4 menu.frame.justify: left menu.frame.font: tahoma menu.frame.fontheight: 12 menu.frame.fontweight: 400 menu.hilite: flat solid menu.hilite.color: gray60 menu.hilite.textcolor: white menu.bullet: triangle menu.bullet.position: right borderwidth: 1 bordercolor: #868687 bevelwidth: 0 rootcommand: bsetroot -solid #0b0b0b

    BBSystemBarEx

    BBSystemBarEx Descr.

    BBSystemBarEx Config

    BBPager Descr.

    BBPager Config

    BBIcons Descr.

    BBIcons Config

    BBSlit Descr.

    BBSlit Config

    BBSysmon Descr.

    BBSysmon Config

    MultiAmp Descr.

    MultiAmp Config

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    My Shell Enhancements

    My Resident Tools

    NOD32,

    More tools, to be launched on-demand

    I am using Xplorer2 as a file manager.
    In the tray, you're seeing: UltraEdit, ProcGuard, FooBar, RegRun, Look'n'Stop, Windows' Volume applet and battery management applets...

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