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Author Topic: IDEA: Windows shell that's just a desktop  (Read 9210 times)
geektechnu
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« on: April 30, 2005, 06:16:19 AM »

Something super-lightweight that mimics the behaviour of the Windows desktop.
- Icons
- Wallpaper

Once loaded as a shell, other programs could be run on top of it.
Would make a good base for people who use programs like Objectbar, or Docks.
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2005, 06:54:34 AM »

i'm not sure i fully understand this request, though it sounds intriguing..
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bob
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2005, 11:30:55 AM »

Have you checked the shell page at Shell City. There are lots of minimal shells there.
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geektechnu
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2005, 06:29:30 PM »

Had a look at the shells page just now - couldn't find what I was after.
To clarify:

- There are many programs that add to/replace the taskbar/start menu.
- I'd like a shell that emulates the desktop *only*, with the normal expected desktop behaviour.
- Windows would load this "desktop" as a shell, then you could load ObjectBar directly on top of it.

If anyone knows of something that is already available, I'm all ears smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2005, 06:05:22 PM »

i still don't really understand this request - probably because im not very familiar with what dif desktop/screen/explorer shell replacements do.. but i am curious to hear more about this idea.
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geektechnu
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2005, 02:43:34 AM »

At its simplest -

Most shell replacements replace the desktop & the windows interface (taskbar/start menu/etc).
I'm looking for a shell that loads up and has *just a desktop* - nothing else.
This "desktop" would replace the standard windows "desktop+taskbar+start menu" combination.

It would look like the taskbar was hidden, except the taskbar was never loaded to start with.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2005, 02:45:42 AM by geektechnu » Logged
Edvard
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2005, 12:15:38 PM »

To further explain...windows' own explorer.exe is what's normally running as the main interface (shell) on most windows systems. Not just a file manager, it provides the desktop (including icons) taskbar, start menu, system context menus, dde handler, etc. A replacement shell is intended to take over that job with the real purpose being to get work done without microsoft's features/limitations getting in the way, as well as being able to do some fun eye candy along the way. Some examples (and by no means exhaustive...)
Litestep: the oldest and most popular shell replacement
Geoshell: nice looking and useful
BB4Win[: a windows clone of *nix's BlackBox window manager; currently 4 branches of this project.
More info can be found at Shellfront, Shell-Shocked online mag, and Desktopian.
What is asked for is something which would provide nothing but the desktop, as not many (in fact, almost none) of the replacement shells provide this, and as ObjectBar and all its cousins are somewhat resource-hungry, using something small and useful to replace explorer would be quite desirable. I wish I had an answer for this one.
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mtp
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2005, 02:13:29 AM »

yup .. or if you want a minimal shell take GO! ...
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freewarewiki.de .. though it's not a wiki ...
Edvard
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2005, 11:12:39 AM »

I think this one may be solved...
Litestep + icondesk module. If I have time today smiley  I'll post a (totally non-ots-compliant) step.rc.
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Edvard
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2005, 05:04:21 PM »

ok, download Litestep (just the base package is all you need) here. Then get one or both of these:
Icon and IconDesk.
Unzip everything to the same folder, and here's the step.rc:
[copy or print]
;LoadModule $litestepdir$\IconDesk.dll
;LoadModule $litestepdir$\icon.dll


;--icon configuration--
IconTextColor 000000
IconDesktopFolder $desktop$
IconXstart 16
IconYstart 44
IconXoffset 80
IconYoffset 80

;--IconDesk configuration--
IconDeskGroups                  Desktop
*IconDeskDesktopFolder          .desktop
IconDeskDesktopSize             32
IconDeskDesktopX                32
IconDeskDesktopY                0
IconDeskDesktopSpacingX         4
IconDeskDesktopSpacingY         4
IconDeskDesktopDirection        right
IconDeskDesktopWrapDirection    down
IconDeskDesktopWrapCount        4
IconDeskDesktopFont             "Tahoma"
IconDeskDesktopFontSize         12
;IconDeskDesktopTextShadowDepth  1

Notice in the 'LoadModule' section, both are commented out. That's because I had trouble starting Icondesk but it may work for you, so uncomment ONLY ONE at a time and do a recycle (from commandline: Drive:\path\to\litestep.exe !recycle)
Icon is just quick&dirty icons from your desktop folder no mycomputer, recycle bin, etc. Icondesk is a little more advanced.
Now, if you're into shells, you proabably know what to do from here. If not, the quick & dirty way to run litestep is to open task manager, kill explorer and start Litestep.exe from 'File -> New Task (Run)'. After that you're on your own, RTFM, and welcome to Litestep.
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mouser
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« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2005, 06:13:39 PM »

thanks edvard.

do you happen to know a good very newbie introduction to these replacement shell type things and what they are good for etc., i have to admit i am totally ignorant of them.
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geektechnu
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« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2005, 01:15:16 AM »

Thanks Edvard.
I've used litestep before (back in the good ol' win98 days)., so I'll definitely give this a shot!

I also recently found a shell called iceSphere: http://www.shellfront.org/shells/icesphere/.
It has a module called iceDesk.exe that can run on its own... no icons tho - I was thinking that icons could be handled using a widget program like AveDesk or Konfabulator.

Thanks to everyone for all the advice.
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Edvard
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2005, 05:06:09 PM »

I was just scooting around the web looking at different shell-related sites and there seems to be no one repository of knowledge with regard to replacement shells in general. If I had the time and web space, I'd give my take on it, but I don't, so I'll do my best here. See my post above (reply #6) and here is a tidbit from Desktopian's "What are Replacement Shells" page:
Quote
"Replacement Shells" are programs that are run in place of the normal Microsoft explorer shell to give your
desktop a completely different look & feel. In simplest terms, they replace the default Windows interface (Start
Button, Task Bar, icons on desktop) with an interface either borrowed from other operating systems (like Unix,
MacOS, or the Amiga) or something completely new and different.

Note, in almost every case, these applications are doing things that Microsoft never intended to happen on their
operating systems. In addition, many are in early beta (or even alpha) release. That means that some bugs and
minor incompatibilities are to be expected. But the good news is that many are in active development, which means
that bugs and incompatibilities are rapidly being addressed.
A (fairly) comprehensive list of alt shells past and present can be found at Shellfront's list page. Many of the links are broken but Google can help, and a link copied and pasted to the WayBack Machine can get you some shells that are long dead support-wise, but still work. Many developers of dead shells are now working in active shell projects, so hit the forums and take names.
 My best advice is; 1- Read all you can before divng in. Check out online documentation as well as the shells 'readme' files. The easiest shells to start with are bbLean,GeoShell (get the installer) and the Litestep Installer.
2- I recommend you get a 'back door' app to get back to explorer in case things go wrong. There are many alt-shell managers like shellon, Litespawn and Carapace can handle getting you out of a bad spot, but I have written a small script in AutoIt3 to do just that; get you back to explorer quickly. I'll post my script (and perhaps an exe? Mouser?) in another topic. Maybe someone can re-write it in C or C++ for efficiency.

Hope that helps, and to geektechnu: If you're good with litestep, check out xDesktop1.7. It's just about as easy to config as it gets, does at least 95% of what explorer's desk does and in the readme it tells how to use jdesk to interface with your actual desktop folder. Which is almost the remaining 5%. sweet. For wallpaper, I recommend bsetroot from the bb4win download site. It not only handles wallpapers, (bmp and jpg maybe others) but it'll do nice gradient washes so your "plain' paper is not so plain.
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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2005, 04:51:30 AM »

thanks edvard, that's a good description and some useul links.
i guess im one of those traditionalists that likes my windows to look like win2k (the first thing i did after installing win xp is turn off all the horrible looking xp stuff), but i'm still curious about these shells.
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