deck out your Windows XP, Linux style

May 9, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

For more Windows XP decking-out (and a much better article, heh), see Windows XP revamp part 1 and part 2.

NOTE: I use the addons/improvements I list below for Windows XP, but I think all except #5 and maybe #6 work in Vista too. edit: I read in some places that #5 (Ext2Fsd) does indeed work in Vista, but it may require some tweaking. I don’t know what kind of tweaking, so you’ll just have to try it out yourself. If it doesn’t work, try Ext2 IFS, a similar program that says it supports Vista.

I like Windows XP, mostly because I don’t have money to buy Vista. XP works alright, but after using Linux (Mint and Ubuntu) there are just a few really useful features that I miss. XP also looks pretty bad compared to newer operating systems. So here are some nice improvements I’ve found. These are best for people who use Linux as well as Windows, but most of these are useful even if you don’t use Linux.

1) QTTabBar adds tabs to Windows Explorer, as well as a new row of buttons to replace the standard Explorer ones. Very customizable, and also works in Vista.

2) This tutorial explains how to add a command prompt button to the Windows Explorer right-click menu, similar to the “Open in Terminal” button in Ubuntu.

3) Create keyboard shortcuts to open folders and to run programs.

4) If you want to change where your “My Documents” folder is, just right click on its start menu entry, go to Properties, and change the target location. Very useful if all your stuff is in your Linux partition (or just any other partition) and you want your “My Documents” links to point to there.

5) But if you want to access your Linux partition in the first place (assuming it’s ext2/ext3[/ext4?]), you need Ext2Fsd. This very useful program allows you to mount an ext partition as a drive in Windows. This way I can keep all my “stuff” (music, games, movies, etc) only in my Linux partition, and I can access it and even write to it while in XP. edit: As I said above, if Ext2Fsd doesn’t work, try Ext2 IFS.

6) Finally, the nice looks. This page has lots of cool themes for Windows XP, and also links to pages with nice icon sets and mouse cursors. There are Minimalist themes, Vista-like themes, Mac themes, dark themes, even a couple of Ubuntu/Gnome themes. Don’t forget to read the instructions at the bottom of the page!

As for a desktop background, I just discovered that MilkDrop (a visualization plugin in the music players WinAmp and MediaMonkey) has a Desktop Mode, where the visualization runs as a desktop background. It’s not very useful, but it’s just so cool. šŸ™‚

Now I can do stuff faster in Windows XP, it’s nicely integrated with Ubuntu, and my eyes are much happier.


Entry filed under: howto, Linux, software, Windows. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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