bbLean + cygwin: Windows 7, #! Style

As I’m currently stuck with Windows on my Asus 1215N (at least until I get the chance to try out Bumblebee), I spent a couple of evenings to make my preinstalled Windows 7 act more like a decent OS (i.e. #! Linux or CTK). Here’s what the result looks like:

The most important component for a #! Style desktop is bblean, a Blackbox implementation for Windows. Although the project seems to be more or less dead since 2009, I still find it very useful on 32Bit (there’s a 64 Bit version, too, but with a lot of problem reports). Before installing, make sure to switch to “Windows Classic” theme, otherwise window borders will be totally messed up. You should also enable the “classic” menu in Firefox 4 or install the Movable FF. Button extension – the new integrated menu button will not work (same as the integrated tabs of Google Chrome). After this you can just install and configure bblean as described in the Readme (refer to the “Hotkeys” section to assign #! keyboard shortcuts). The style is used in the screenshot is called simplicity v3, btw.

The other thing I’m missing on Windows is a decent command line environment – Cygwin is taking care of that, including a decent terminal (mintty) and a full blown bash enviromnent with almost every Linux command line tool you could think of. Only real drawback is the missing compatibility between cygwin Links and Windows shortcuts, a usable workaround for me is using the mklink command (cmd only), which can be read by both, Cygwin and Exlorer.

The basic bblean / cygwin setup is completed by a couple of other tools, namely Launchy as program starter (instead of gmrun / Win7 start menu search), Rainmeter as conky replacement and TotalCommander file manager (bought a license once, otherwise FreeCommander is the best alternative).

For “getting things done” almost all the classic Open Source applications offer a Windows version, I’m using e.g. Firefox, LibreOffice, Gimp, Pidgin, SMplayer, VLC, … and I’m glad I can use some of my Windows only favourites again (like IrfanView, 1by1 MP3 player, Notepad++ or AutoIt).

Unfortunately there are some shortcomings that cannot be addressed by tools – the missing software repository for example (at least the update checking part can be addressed by installing Sumo), a decent user / rights management the frequent security issues (can be partly addressed by installing Avastfree antivirus) and the comparatively long boot time keep me convinced that, once my hardware is supported, Linux is still the better alternative. But until then, this configuration gives me at least something I can live with.


5 thoughts on “bbLean + cygwin: Windows 7, #! Style

  1. Pingback: DesktopInfo – Conky for Windows « Axel's Blog

  2. Malte

    I tried, but it didn’t work for me.
    My computer freeze everytime.

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