Desktop hacks give me the best that XP, OSX, and Ubuntu could offer

FROM JASON’S REPRESSED ARTIST PERSONA — I’ve been toying endlessly with my Windows XP desktop lately, getting rid of the WinDross that’s irritated me for years.

Now, I like a lot of things about Windows. And I like a lot of things about OSX. And I hate a lot of things about both. So I was looking for a happy medium.

What I found were a lot of third-party apps and registry hacks that let me have the best of each OS’ desktop.

First, I installed DeskSpace, a Win32 application that replicates the Ubuntu desktop.

Holding a hotkey and dragging the mouse lets you switch between six desktops, each with its own shortcuts, wallpapers, and applications. It’s not really necessary in the least, unless you want to have Photoshop running on one desktop and then click over to another for web browsing or iTunes.

It’s also helpful for quickly hiding your screen from your wife or boss (sometimes they’re the same) if you’re Christmas or anniversary shopping. Not looking at pr0n. Nope, not that. Never.

But more than anything else, it’s a way to use lots of wallpapers at the same time and switch effortlessly between them.

Our forum friend Sonic from the Geeknights forum shows you how it works:

Next, I co-opted OSX’s launchbar by installing RK Launcher. I have since switched over to RocketDock, which lacks a few features but excels at using docklets (widgets) that make life a lot easier. Those include clocks, weather reports, and menu stacking right on the launch bar.

You’ll notice that’s not the standard XP color and style scheme on the taskbar. I used UXPatcher to crack the Plus! protection for *.msstyles files. (TIP: Once you run the patcher, run it again to enable the patch.) Then I could get skins without having to use another memory hog like Windows Blinds.

Next, I went in search of great wallpaper, but I didn’t want to trawl 4chan until my brain ‘sploded. So I took a clue from another forumite, Dkong1026, who suggested 4scrape. It indexes image boards and delivers lots of wallpapers quickly. There’s no real way to search it — just keep hitting F5 until you see what you want — but bulk wins in this case.

Watch out for the pornography, if you care about such trivial things.

You god-damned prude.

At this point, I started incorporating widgets onto the desktop, both for asthetic and functional reasons. I’m using Yahoo! Widgets here, but Google has a similar service, and third-party programs often do the same thing.

These customizable ones I’m using show hard drive, RAM, and CPU usage, let me control the system volume, and give me an iTunes remote control/cover art viewer. They can be independently anchored on the desktop and come with a bunch of options.

There was still more to be done, though. I’ve always disliked the taskbar, and using its autohide function just wasn’t cutting it. The damned thing kept popping up on mouseover and getting in the way, so I hunted for a reg hack to remove it completely and found KaneBT to do it for me.

Now I have a nice, clean, functional desktop customized to my needs:

How nice is that? There’s absolutely nothing I like better than a perfectly organized system without a bunch of icon clutter. It’s all streamlined, which looks better and saves me time.


One Response to Desktop hacks give me the best that XP, OSX, and Ubuntu could offer

  1. This is a very detailed walk through of how you customized your desktop! You have given me many tips such as the 4scrape wallpaper site & the kanebt program to remove task bar & start menu.

    I use RocketDock too, Its the number one tool to keep my desktop clean & uncluttered just as you have shown on your screenshots :)

    I keep certain applications separated into categories for better productivity, like design related, word related, etc :)

    I pity the fool who doesn’t like RocketDock :D

    BTW, Here is a great video tutorial on how to install, setup, beautify & organize RocketDock: RocketDock, Increase Productivity And Coolness Factor To Your Desktop

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