Jump to content

Most Liked Content

#700 Mojmir's Build

Posted by pitkon on 10 March 2014 - 06:55 AM

latest is RC6:

Attached File  bbZero_install_1.18.0-rc6_mojmir.rar   22.73MB   4879 downloads


* fixed bb version detection in bbinterface_itunes

* added twapi 4.1.27 to bbTcl



older releases:



Attached File  bbZero_install_1.18.0rc5_mojmir.rar   19.1MB   748 downloads

RC5 changes:

* fixed compact mode

* bbfoomp unicode

* unicode for window captions, tooltips etc (bbleanbar) * bbsearch: fix of crash when reconfiguring while indexing

* zero initialization of styleitem

* bbsearch crash when lookup not created, but reloaded





Attached File  bbZero_install_1.18.0_rc4.rar   19.13MB   40 downloads

RC4 changes:


* fixed wallpaper bug (bsetbg/bsetroot/.. ) under windows "susan boyle" 8.x

* merged bbSearch into main branch (new feature, may be bit unstable)

* fixed [inspath] in menu

* some menu related crash

* per core usage sysmonitor for bbinterface

* added /norestart for 1st redist on x64 platform (avoiding to restart twice)

* fix of bbstylemaker ui from user KillingSpree

* fix of bbLeanSkin titlebar actions from user Kaze




Attached File  bbZero_1.18rc2.rar   18.7MB   586 downloads

RC2 changes:

* bbiconbox issues fixed

* alpha/saturation/hue ranges fixed

* other minor fixes


  • edom, AlterEgo, fireal and 22 others like this

#4404 xoblite bb5 RC4+ is now available! :D

Posted by xoblite on 13 September 2020 - 07:27 PM



Welcome to xoblite.


This post and/or thread will be continuously updated with new information following new releases.

  • The latest version of the full distribution - xoblite bb5 RC4 ( - was released on December 13th, 2020 (related post).
  • An interim update of the core binaries only - xoblite bb5 RC4+ ( - was released on February 14th, 2021 (changes, related post).

Downloads -> http://xoblite.net/docs/?Downloads


The full distribution .zip bundle also includes my new plugins...

  • xDesignerGUI (release candidate) - a "privileged plugin" providing a GUI for the xoblite bb5 Designer Mode, placed in the core shell main folder and loaded/unloaded automatically when said mode is enabled/disabled.
    (nb. as this is tightly coupled to the core shell itself, please post any comments on this topic directly in this thread).
  • xDesktopAnimation (official release) - an advanced bitmap animation plugin. The default bb5 theme uses no less than 9 (!) instances of this plugin...  :sweat:
  • xDesktopLauncher (release candidate) - a sophisticated button matrix launcher plugin.
  • xDesktopMeter (release candidate) - a system meter plugin. The default bb5 theme uses 3 instances of this plugin (one each for CPU, network and memory).
  • xDesktopNowPlaying (early beta) - a work-in-progress "now playing" plugin for Spotify users. (nb. being an early beta, I have not created a sub-forum for this plugin yet).

More on these later too perhaps, but in the meanwhile, please share your experience of them in the related sub-forums!  :thumbsup: (and btw, each plugin's configuration menu is opened using Right click or Ctrl+Right click depending on the plugin and sometimes its current mode/state).


Oh, and while the full documentation is not yet ready - see continuously updated works-in-progress at http://xoblite.net/docs/ and http://xoblite.net/docs/plugins/ respectively - please read the short included README.txt at least. More details will follow, but I figured you're probably savvy enough around here...  :wink:


Enjoy!  :yes:


BR//Karl aka qwilk/@xoblite

  • pitkon, Sivleem, lyrae and 12 others like this

#3718 Major Blackbox Rehaul

Posted by pitkon on 26 October 2016 - 08:31 AM

mojmir had been real busy all those months, folks.

He is working on a major Blackbox rehaul that will bring BB to the Windows 10 century.

We all have our reservations about Blackbox and Win 10, since for some users the new Microsoft OS doesn't seem to like alternative shells, but mojmir hopes all our woes will be over when he finishes with that monster of an endeavor.

The changes may be dramatic at some points, some old plugins may not work at all, but the new shell will be super fast, extra stable and just unbeatable.

There is no ETA yet, but good things take some time. Our best and our support go to you, mojmir, may the god of shells bless you.

  • Paz, meanmechanics, maxnort and 11 others like this

#312 Sed

Posted by pitkon on 10 February 2014 - 04:38 PM

Sed, an accomplished wallpaper artist from Cleveland, Ohio, officially started his artistic endeavors by joining WinCustomize back in 1999, because he wanted to skin his Windows 95 PC.

Begun skinning windows with WindowBlinds but gave it up after seeing adni18’s designs, as he says. Turned to wallpapers which comprise the major percentage of his output till today.

In the same year he went on to Windows 98 and found Photoshop. “I had a designer teach me that and some tricks that still work on Adobe CS Photoshop. Lot of old school”, he says.









Attached Images

  • under_stress_by_sed-d4qpddc.jpg

  • Paz, sed, teddybearcholla and 8 others like this

#4054 Blackbox phoenix

Posted by sphaira on 29 June 2017 - 11:29 AM



I am happy to see the revival of bb4win.


I started using bbLean in 2009 after some year of using Litestep. Being a fervent user of Unix/Linux systems I recreated on Windows (using Blackbox and Cygwin/ConEmu) a similar environment.


Here is my current desktop (Windows XP, bbLean, I soon consider switching to Windows 10 and bbZero.



Attached Images

  • bbLean2.jpg

  • pitkon, Paz, sed and 7 others like this

#4321 BB5 on the way

Posted by xoblite on 08 May 2020 - 04:00 PM

Hello all,


first of all, let me emphasize how happy I am to discover that there is still some interest out there for *box in general and obviously xoblite in particular!  :smile:


When I picked up the then roughly 8-year-old (!) xoblite bb4 RC3 codebase back in early October last year, it was more like a just for fun, revisiting an old love kind of thing. However, some of the foundations I had worked on for bb4 before losing interest (read: after having been at *box in a leading role for almost 10 years) turned out to be pretty solid foundations for further development, and I also had a pretty clear vision for what I thought a new xoblite release and shell for 2020 and (hopefully) beyond should be, and not be - often the more important prioritization in any form of product management. I will tell you more about everything in xoblite bb5 later, but at least in my own opinion it has turned out really well so far, and also way beyond what I was envisioning back then. I hope when I manage to wrap everything up that you will like it too, but the message is still the same as it was back in October:

xoblite will return. Expect different. Switching to bb5 mode, stay tuned... :D


With that I mean you should expect great things, but also something different compared to maybe what you're used to. For those of you who haven't been along for the entire journey, the xoblite and bb©Lean(Mod)(Zero) codebases have very little in common, so don't expect full feature parity with every little nitty gritty feature of those shells. Expect the old xoblite extra-large-supercharged and then some, with a long list of features not supported by any of the other branches - some of which you've seen hinted about in my various screenshots here and on boxshots. All in all, it's a pretty massive release - probably one of the biggest I've worked on at least. But again, more on this some other time.


So, apart from the many tens of thousands of lines of code of a project the size of xoblite, what else keeps a guy like me busy?


  • Hey, I'm 48 years old nowadays, and I have a wife and two kids. They probably (ahem) think (ahem) I am a bit geeky polishing pixels again, but obviously they deserve some love still...  :wink:
  • I have quite a lot to do at work, which with the covid-19 situation on top means being at home, in front of a screen, 40-50 hours a week, even before considering additional "in front of a screen" pet projects like these.
  • A good shell developer needs to properly eat his own dogfood, and I do that by working on plugins to test/harden various aspects of the shell as well as the plugin API. Last I counted (hehe), I had 6 new plugins lined up for release with or shortly after the release xoblite bb5; I will tell you more about these later too. But as a small teaser (in addition to my previous screenshots that is), they are called xDesignerGUI, xDesktopLauncher, xDesktopMeter, xDesktopAnimation, xDesktopNowPlaying, and BBCorsairCUE. Guess away!  :tongue: (and no, these are not half-assed efforts either, I don't do that really :blush2:).
  • The more mundane stuff: Packaging (read: I don't outsource anything, so I need to create some nice styles/themes/etc to go with any release), documentation especially, but also website (and later some GitHub) updating, miscellaneous logistics, suitable grassroots marketing, etc - they all need at least some level of attention. With regards to documentation, keep in mind that not all users are equal, even though everyone in this thread are of course 1337 *box die-hards. Just sayin'...  :cool:
  • Keeping a certain Greek guy with an endless list of feature requests at bay. This is probably the toughest of them all...  :wallbash: :wink:. The rest of you are peanuts by comparison...  :thumbsup:
  • Finally, maintaining the fun is key as always - without the fun it's simply not worth the hard work, and as you can understand by now, it's a LOT of work. Taking pauses and time-outs every now and then is simply necessary - in all walks of life.

Last but not least - mea culpa, I'm a bit perfectionist, and my "Release Candidates" are typically pretty solid. But though sometimes slow, I am making great progress, even though I don't want to commit to a certain release date. So, when it's done. Keep the faith!  :yes:


Over and out


BR//KHH (qwilk/@xoblite)

  • pitkon, meanmechanics, Sivleem and 6 others like this

#3085 BBZero 1.18 rc6 by mojmir Released

Posted by pitkon on 22 June 2015 - 07:37 AM

mojmir released his latest version of BBZero 1.18, build rc6. Main changes:


* fixed bb version detection in bbinterface_itunes

* added twapi 4.1.27 to bbTcl


Get it from here [color=rgb(188,188,188);font-family:'Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:14px;]http://blackbox4wind...h&attach_id=825[/color]

  • cthu1hu, fireal, AustinBeets and 6 others like this

#2 Welcome!

Posted by pitkon on 19 January 2014 - 07:44 AM

Seems like yesterday, but it’s more than 14 years when the first Blackbox for Windows build was released to an enthusiastic audience. Blackbox, a Windows shell based on its Linux Window Manager counterpart, owes its existence to many creative developers that I won’t mention here in fear of forgetting someone. Of course, topics about What Blackbox Is and A History of The Shell, including main contributors, can be found in other sections of this site.
That original build bloomed and diversified and at the peak of its popularity included more than 6 different branches. At the same time, Blackbox 4 Windows sites grew and bloomed. bb4win and boxshots by NC-17 offered news and styles respectively, while lostinthebox by tres’ni was a Blackbox forum that sometime included over 4,000 members. And I had the pleasure and honor of being an administator/moderator for all three sites.
Sadly, they all went recently down, due to attacks and/or lack of interest leaving behind a void I felt had to be covered. Members may be fewer nowadays, programmers may have left for other pastures, but there are still developers working on Blackbox (xzero450, nocd5, qwilk, DBlake, mojmir, diabol to mention a few) and there are hundreds of people still using the shell. And themers and ardent fans, like me, that hated to see something so beautiful and powerful go down the drain.
This site is for you. Created by me and my good friend adni18, one of the most prolific Windows artists/themers around, it will be our new niche, where all aspects of Blacbox (news, forum, uploads and downloads) will be discussed and analyzed. In short, it’s all three old sites merged into one, where each one of us can contribute in one way or the other.
Here you can ask for help or give help, you can download any build and plugin released so far, you can upload your screenshots, your styles or even your themes, you can discuss Blackbox and anything that has to do with the community. Feel free to add topics and chat live. The site is still under construction and you can contribute to its looks, subject matter and diversity. This goes not only for Blackbox users, but for artists who may honor us with their wallpapers, their icons, their visual styles and their input. After all, Blackbox needs decoration too. And, lastly, this is more than true in the case of Linux users, the place where the original Blackbox started. There is a special section for you, *box WM users, where you can upload your skins, themes and screenshots and a forum thread just for you.
So, my deepest and humblest respects to the creators of Blackbox and all who worked for/with it all these years and, all of you Blackboxers out there, this is YOUR site. Because it’s up to us to keep one of the most beautiful and powerful Windows shells alive.
Welcome home! 

When you register, you are considered validating members (light blue text coloring) until you reply to our confirmation/validation e-mail.

Unfortunately, in many occasions this e-mail ends up in your spam folder, you never reply and we have no way of knowing if you are a legit validating member or a spammer.

Please check your spam folders and reply so you can become a full member (white text coloring).

While validating, you can only participate in the shout box. You can’t download or upload, or post any query – so please make sure our validation e-mail finds you before your temporary account is automatically deleted. Thank you – AND CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDERS REGULARLY!

  • adni18, Paz, sed and 6 others like this

#5 A New 64-bit Build by DBlake

Posted by pitkon on 19 January 2014 - 07:56 AM

Yes, a new 64-build for BB is a reality. BBLean Revived, the provisional title used by DBlake, its creator, is out since last November.


That's what DBlake says:

"The reason this build is x64 is because the older bbLean x64 was compiled with a much older GCC (4.5 IIRC) with performance regressions and issues; it would also refuse to compile under any newer GCC versions. I fixed those compilation and performance issues and here it is. SystemBarEx was the biggest pain to get compiled, but it works now. This bbLean branch is based on xZero's, just with a lot of changes in most of the makefiles (and minor changes to few source files) to help it build on x64; also with changes to the menu.rc structure (split in multiple files) to assist with adding menu entries. I decided that the original bbLean branch was far too out of date to work with x64 (or on modern systems) and most of it wouldn't even compile properly on x86 GCC. 

The version of SystemBarEx included is also a combination of fixes from his source (some older source I found on his github) and the original. I tried to keep everything as vanilla as I could. There are still a few regressions I have to fix yet (menu separators disappearing on reboot, menu glyphs disappearing on reboot), but for the most part it's stable."


Attached File  bblean_revived_1.18.0-x64.zip   1.08MB   709 downloads

  • innn, test member, AustinBeets and 5 others like this

#1228 Running Windows without explorer.exe

Posted by yereverluvinunclebert on 24 June 2014 - 01:27 AM

Running Windows without explorer.exe - Or running Windows whilst using as little of the windows shell as possible.

I've been trying to minimise Windows for years, and I don't mean the little application windows but the windows operating system shell. I want a lot of what the windows operating system offers but without all the pain and all the junk that Microsots (sic) gives us. One of the biggest pains for me has always been the Windows file explorer, explorer.exe.

It isn't the file explorer functionality that I dislike, in fact I quite like it. It is the total integration of explorer.exe into the operating system as part of the command shell. For those that don't know the Windows shell is a piece of software that provides the interface to the operating system, ie. the taskbar, the desktop, file explorer and the start menu.

So why don't I like the Windows shell? Two main reasons spring to mind. The first is personal preference and the second is technical.

When XP was shipped it came with a look and feel  (luna) that I can only describe it as "windows for teletubbies". As well as being a waste of resources it somehow manages to be condescending in graphical form in a way that only software manufactured by corporations can be. It has ended up imposing a corporately-neutral GUI on all desktops throughout the world.

Windows theme-ing is not its strong point, in fact Windows themeing was deliberately crippled my Microsots (sic) and the O/S does not allow easy transfer of its functions to another method or skin. The end result is that most windows XP desktops are the default luna theme and most vista boxes use the default aero skin. Boring, boring, boring. My opinion is "if you are going to waste resources with a GUI then at least make it interesting".

However it is the technical reason that is the most pressing, there are faults built into explorer.exe that can make your system inaccessible. For example, when you have a file on the desktop that is too big it can cause explorer to consume 100% cpu. When you use explorer to open a CD or device that is faulty, unwritten or slow to respond it can lock up the whole GUI.

The result is that killing explorer.exe can be a regular task and a chore.

I have resorted to alternative file explorers like Q-Dir, Freecommander or Explorer2. The latter two aren't as good as the in-built windows file explorer with regard to functionality but they have the significant benefit of not causing the whole o/s to lock up when it has a 'wobble'. These 3rd party file managers can be deleted easily enough when they go 'rogue' and there is no further impact on the o/s. Conversely, when you kill explorer.exe you lose the desktop, taskbar, start menu and then you are simply stuck. 

So, what is my solution? Well, I have previously installed RocketDock as a replacement taskbar along with a suite of customised icons. This gives me the ability to initiate my processes without using the windows taskbar. One of the icons on the rocketdock initiates JetStart a very good alternative to the Windows launcher.

I use Q-Dir as an alternative to Windows Explorer. It looks and acts just like explorer but allows tabbed and multi window browsing. Other than that it almost seems like Windows Explorer. No crashing though and no taking the o/s with it. I also have the yahoo widget engine which runs without needing explorer.exe, giving me access to a whole raft of operating system tools for showing the date/time, cpu temperature and usage &c &c. I can change volume, start the task manager, open the control panel, the lot, all without explorer.exe.

I use the Microsoft coolswitch task switcher allowing me to alt+tab between processes with an image of each process. All these apps give me functionality over and above what windows explorer provides. It still works without explorer.


I had installed these tools to enhance the windows GUI, to provide a customised look and feel to the O/S but there was a unexpected and positive side effect. It started like this - something happened while I was using my laptop, explorer.exe had another wobble and hung - again - and it started using 100% cpu, locking up the whole GUI. Temperature was climbing, I could do nothing. I typed a quick CTRL+ALT+DEL and up popped the task manager and I killed explorer.exe just before it overheated my laptop.

Just before I restarted explorer I realised that with all these tools running I might not actually need explorer.exe anymore. I tried running all my apps from RocketDock and the whole shebang worked. The realisation came, I don't need it, I can run without explorer.exe executing. I do not need the explorer shell. Many people know this already (especially here) but it is a realisation that I had not quite been willing to accept or try.

My desktop is now far more like the Mac desktop, clean and tidy and free of windows clutter. It seems more reliable and it works, so I am going to give it a go for a while. I will even kill explorer.exe the next time the laptop starts and see how it goes then too. I may even do some research on running an alternative shell... :wink:

Limitations, the desktop is gone but the wall paper is still there, the icons are not accessible as they aren't there anymore, the side effect is that it leaves a clean desktop. In their place I have widgets that I can resize and assign functions to. They look and act just like icons and I can move them around my desktop. They are no longer limited to tiny sizes...


Another limitation, the windows key does not work, meaning you can't minimise all your apps to the desktop as easily. Ctrl/esc does not fire up the menu bar. I am working on getting an alternative to the system tray working but at the moment it doesn't. That's all the negatives I have encountered at the moment and I aim to have workarounds in place for most if not all.


What has this got to do with blackbox? Not a lot except it proves you don't need explorer and with a little bit of ingenuity it can be 'almost' done away with, except for booting that is. I even installed a little yahoo widget kill switch so that I could kill explorer.exe at will if I wanted to.


Below is my desktop as of 2014, it all works, nothing is purely eye-candy. Oh yes, I didn't just install them, I designed and wrote them. My graphics, my icons, my widgets, my code, my desktop, my goodness. Happiness at last.


Posted Image

  • pitkon, Paz, scruffty and 5 others like this

#4524 State Of The Union, 2020 - and a Suggestion to Validating Members

Posted by pitkon on 31 December 2020 - 05:07 AM

Another year passes by, a very important year in the history of Blackbox, the Windows' alternative shell and, by the looks of it, the only surviving shell around.

It was an important year because, after so many years, a new Blackbox build finally appeared, the brainchild of qwilk, creator of the famous xoblite branch. This build brought - finally, again - 8-color gradients, rounded corners, gradient borders and a LOT of other goodies, last but not least new plugins qwilk developed to go with this new build of his.

And we now have more than 4,000 members, another reason to celebrate, a number that increases almost daily and would be even greater if we were not attacked - daily - by countless fake validating "members" who, actually, are spammers using one-off addresses. It's very hard now to tell who is a valid Blackbox fan and who is a spammer who tries to log in and cause havoc, so please forgive me if I happen to delete a valid account while getting rid of daily garbage. So, please, if you are a legit validating member and are reading this, drop me a line at my personal e-mail addy, pitkon@otenet.gr It's now - perhaps - the only way to tell a valid member from a fake one. I am sure the older members among you will remember that fake members were one of the main reasons lostinthebox went down.

Hours before the dawn of a new year, I'd like to thank all of you, administrators, moderators, developers and members alike, for your dedication and unending interest, without which this site would have no reason of existence. Blackbox, if you really think about it, is much more than an alternative shell. It's a struggle against uniformity, a rebellion against the shape of things that Windows and corporations are trying to shove down our throat. We defend our right to be different and do things in another and even better way.

Happy 2021, my good friends, and keep Blackboxing!

  • Paz, lyrae, knowom and 4 others like this

#324 Sed

Posted by sed on 11 February 2014 - 10:02 PM

Hmmmm ... I like this artist!!  :cool:

  • pitkon, Paz, teddybearcholla and 4 others like this

#2203 doctorfrog

Posted by pitkon on 02 November 2014 - 06:25 AM

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]doctorfrog has been around since the early days of Blackbox for Windows – the shell. Being quite active in the community, he has created lots of styles and is known for his witty posts both on lostinthebox and, yes, this site.[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]“My real first name is Matt”, he says. “I live in the Bay Area of California. I do not know what I want to do when I grow up. Right now, I do human resources management for a small mental health services company. My primary career title has been technical writer, and it's in juggling the many windows and roles in that line of work that finally cemented my use of bb4win in the early 00's. That, and multiple desktops make for a good "boss button." ;-)[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]This is the first style that I felt like I was really happy with, and I'm a little sorry to say that it's mostly... very blue and gray, which are very lazy standbys in the world of user interfaces. But all the same, it served me well for some time. It marks the first time I felt like a style I made was complete in of itself.[/font]


[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]1) When did you start using BB and had you used any other shells before?[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]I started tinkering with alternative shells in the late nineties, starting with the venerated LiteStep. The idea of ditching the Windows '95/'98 look was rebellious, and I was working in a call center, which was a high-control environment that was nonetheless poorly managed from the top. I was bored and needed something to tinker with that could legitimately be linked back to work. I could easily argue that a custom shell would allow me to do this (and to a point, it did).
I was probably introduced to the idea of alternative shells through Wired or Slashdot, which I checked daily back then. Windowblinds was ideal for very small children, but LiteStep was king of the highly configurable shells. LiteStep probably deserves the adoration and attention it got, but I wanted something more elegant and simple, self-sufficient and put-together. In trying to create a theme for LiteStep I grew dissatisfied with the complications involved and started looking elsewhere.
I switched to GeoShell, a wonderful little shell based on bars you could create and stick anywhere, usually to the edge of your screen. You'd have launchers, weather and news plugins, and of course task and tray bars. Or you could combine all of them into one long bar. On top of that, all it took to skin GeoShell was three little bitmaps: two endcaps and something to skin the main of the bar. Elegant and effective! But there was something even more enticing: bb4win, and its equally minimalistic spawn.
Grischka's fork of bb4win, bblean, locked me in. It was small, complete in itself, yet not self-assuming. There's a humility about blackbox that bblean echoes. It worked fantastically right out of the installer with minimal tinkering, but made tinkering a very real option if you wanted it. On top of that, bbstylemaker made designing styles a total joy. I was sold. I've been using it ever since, and I still hold onto hope that old grischka someday wanders back onto his old site and picks the project back up, especially if Windows 8, 10, or whatever breaks it beyond use.[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]This was one of the first styles that I tried to wow myself with, to take risks and move beyond the comfortable blues and grays that I tended to use. It was fun to experiment, and I still like the look of a bright red stretched balloon that the "zombeh_sunset" style has.[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]2) What was BB's most notable characteristic that made you use the shell?[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]Honestly, what brought me to bb4win was the idea that you could create an entire skin ("style" in Blackbox lingo) with a text editor. No faffing about with paint programs, worrying about pixels matching up or creating a repeated tile effect. The shell would handle all that for you, as long as you precisely spelled out what you wanted in RGB or hex. The counterbalance is that you'd have some serious limitations in what you could do with your style. If you wanted to add a reptilian skin to your windows, you'd have to be happy with what simple gradients could accomplish to suggest such a thing. So while I can see why bb4win was never as popular as LiteStep, with its bitmap-based versatility and mountain of plugins, I was very attracted to the minimalism of bb4win—and the sheer challenge of trying to communicate texture through very simple means. I love that.  
The bb4win community was always very positive and optimistic as well. The shell had a lot of optimistic energy behind it. It was fun to stop by and see what new plugins people had crafted, or what the local stylers had come up with. I like having a small set of boundaries, then pushing super hard at them and seeing how far you can take something. It's not about brash rebellion, it's more like tending a very small garden. I felt like I was part of a community that liked doing that, too.
What made me a life-long (so far) user was the fantastic utility of what was already a mature shell, clearly made for work. Features abounded. Hotkey manipulation of windows. On top/rollup of windows. Multiple desktops. Practical, simple plugins with next to no RAM overhead. The ability to add or remove shell features at a whim. A timeless, pixel-sharp, minimalistic UI that gets the hell out of your way and lets you get work (or play) done. And it (mostly) still works, remarkably.
These are all things that would make the average user yawn angrily and wonder why their icons aren't bouncing up and down or why translucent windows aren't doing backflips and taking up their entire screen. bb4win has never been about getting lots of attention. In that sense, it's hard to say whether bb4win and its ilk are hopelessly behind the times or just holding to a very practical standard of efficient user interface.[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]Blue and gray strike back. Really, a style should look good, then get out of the way. This did so in its moment, for me.[/font]


[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]Take a look at at iOS, Windows 8/10, tablet interfaces. Modern user interface design isn't about getting things done, it's about wowing the user and keeping them as tied to the device (and the "storefronts" bolted on) as possible. It's about hooking users first, everything else second. It's like UI design has become one big stupid Transformers movie, a blur of incoherent and shiny machine parts spraying information in all directions. Driven by competition and the desire to be "new" and make other stuff look "old" means forcing new visual choices on users every 6-12 months. And by and large, you have no choice but to adapt. Don't like it? Screw you, you'll have to buy a new device or updated your current one eventually.
They say that casinos are designed to keep you hemmed in, diverting you from exits, in a state of continual excitement, in the hopes that you spend more time, more money. I sometimes feel like modern UI design tries to do the same thing. An operating system UI was once a personal space that has been converted largely to serve the interest of the vendor, funneling you to purchase or consume as much as you can while using it, with them feeding voraciously off of your activity.
The bb4win branch of shells (again, in my case, bblean 1.17) is an escape from all that, and just the very slightest middle finger to it. It's an invitation to redefine the personal space of a desktop as you like, to truly personalize your personal space on a computer.[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]This was a real try to make a suite of styles, and I think the results are a bit garish, really. But one does move on. I like to play with bsetroot and see what effects I can pull off with its releatively limited abilities.[/font]


[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]3) What was your contribution to the community (styles, plugins, posts on the forums etc.)[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]I made styles, here and there. I tried to participate by cheering others on. I was never a coder. I really looked up to those who pushed the shell forward developmentally, and some prolific folks like yourself (pitkon), thewayofzen, Tres'ni, cht1hu, snkmchnb, Inauro, and the more recent youthful energy of meanmechanics. I look up to anyone who understands color and subtlety, who can reflect or communicate an idea without drawing an excess of attention to it. I'm jealous as hell of them, too.
In designing styles, I tried mostly to do something new with colors I hadn't done before, for better or worse. I desperately tried to stay away from dark grays and blues (and mostly failed). I also tried to evoke texture with the gradients, which was kinda fun. Again, this is probably very basic to anyone with a basic understanding of color, but for me, it's a real challenge to understand, and bb4win is a fun way to explore that. How can you evoke textures like cloth, metal, ceramic, backlit plastic, with simple gradients? How do you make a window or task appear "in focus" while making everything else "out of focus"? How do you make a UI look really nice, but also "invisible?" Heck, what colors just look really good together, and why? And what can you communicate with them?
Even as a mere style designer, there's a lot you can explore with UI design, and that's not even touching the versatility of bbinterface yet!
Later on, I became interested in what I could do with a style that required no additional downloads: no fonts, wallpapers, icons, etc. The wallpaper would be generated with bsetroot.exe, and the fonts would be those that come stock with bblean. It should look great at any resolution, just like the screenshot, and on any computer. It's a fun limitation to explore, and bblean just happened to come with some really great little pixel fonts.[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]I really loved the soft mossy green of this style. I was playing a lot of IL-2 Sturmovik at this time, and have always had a soft spot for the Supermarine Spitfire. I was also trying to put together a set of styles, but never got to the point where I bundled them all.[/font]


[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]4) What do you think about the shell and the community today, in contrast to the shell and the community back then?[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]The Blackbox for Windows/bb4win community and others like it, thrive mostly on the passions and goodwill of a dedicated few. Sometimes, those folks move on, and when that happens, a lot of the structure and drive of the community goes with them. But on the plus side, the burden of carrying the torch is very light. bb4win does not need a massive community to maintain its success. As a project, all it has to do is work.
bb4win is definitely a victim of time and progress. For example, bbleanskin doesn't appear to work properly with Windows' graphical acceleration, so you have to have a way to turn that off (in W7 this was the Aero interface). You then lose all the benefits of that feature, just so you can do without the garish default decorations and have a contiguous look to your shell. Pixels have become somewhat passe' and anyway, with 4K monitors on the horizon, very tiny bars are going to become very impractical compared to the 1024x768 resolutions Blackbox was born swimming in. So in a way, bb4win is behind the times.
So the question facing bb4win right now is whether it can remain relevant and useful as a Windows replacement shell. It should not strive to out-sex the competition, that was never its appeal. What it excelled at was being quiet, competent, and strong. There will always be a minority of people who care about such things; bb4win is for them.
Other dangers lurk. On one end, we have Microsoft evolving Windows, and continuing to lock its features down. Maybe changing the shell won't even be an option one day. On the other end, we might see Linux making a solid entry into the gaming market, removing a major reason for hobbyists to stick with Windows. Blackbox still exists as a viable shell for Linux, but not many distributions make use of it. There's also a trend in UI design towards a very pretty but ultimately untinkerable "walled garden," with a focus on embedding stores into everything and employing widgets designed to keep you continually engaged, moving away from real customizability. And sometimes, you just get used to it.
Honestly, I worry a bit. But not too much, because bb4win was never intended to be a mass-appeal product. All it needs is a couple developers, and a couple followers, and a place for them to hang out. And it's always had that.[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]Red highlights are always fun. I miss being able to do window shadows in XP with yzshadow and I hope that there's eventually a way to do it with blackbox for windows, because it not only looks nice, but adds to usability.[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]5) What do you think the shell needs and how do you think it should evolve?[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]Since I'm not a developer, I can only humbly speculate. I would say that one or two really dedicated developers, and around 10 continually active, engaged users are all that's really necessary to continue evolving the shell. That's the advantage of being small: it doesn't take much to keep you going. 1 talented and willing developer, 10 excited and zealous users. All bb4win needs is a pulse and a steady hand, though those can be hard to cultivate. We're all so terribly busy these days.
I'm optimistic, to be honest. There's a real appeal to the look, feel, and capability of this tight little shell. It's simple and powerful, when every other interface burns calories trying to wow you. That counts for something among some people.
I think someone else might be able to put it better, but there's something tight and zen-like about Blackbox. What's a computer? A box. What's in the box? Whatever you desire, or don't desire. What do you use to work within the structure of the box? Do you use whatever is given to you, or do you wrest that control away and construct something that reflects you, your desires? Do you just change your wallpaper, or do you change everything?
One positive trend in UI design that I've noticed is toward more adaptive theming. I'm not entirely happy with it, but it's overall a good thing. In Windows 8, you can pretty easily select a single color, saturation, and brightness, and it'll (somewhat) theme around that color, with some translucency allowing backgrounds to show through. In the latest iTunes (also not my favorite software), when you view an album, it uses the colors from the album art to color the background and text, essentially allowing the content to determine the character of the interface. This, to me, is a conscious effort on the part of UI designers to at least give you the impression that you're personalizing the interface with your content choices. This goes hand in hand with the unattractive idea that "you are your purchasing choices," where interfaces assemble themselves based on what you've done as a consumer rather than allowing you to directly affect your UI, but more importantly, it's a step toward "zero config" theming.
With bbstylemaker, bblean made a big leap forward. Even though I find myself hand-tweaking this and that, every style I make starts with bbstylemaker. It's a very thoughtfully designed tool, but of course it can be improved upon. What if your style adapted itself just by changing your wallpaper? What if it was even smarter than that, and very subtly changed based on the time of day, or the weather? What if it intelligently created a new style every couple of days, and adapted to whether you liked them or not? These are dumb gimmicks, admittedly, but what other things could we do to make the shell attractive to users, but without sacrificing the minimalistic approach?[/font]



[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]The boring now. This is a style that's at least two years old. It doesn't use gradients, but writing this interview article tempts me to break out the crayon box again..[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"].[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]A fitting and moving footnote:[/font]

[font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]“I would encourage anyone who personalizes their interface to take occasional screenshots, just as you would take a selfie. It's a snapshot of who you were, and what you cared about, at that moment in time. It's also just as silly as a selfie. Do it anyway. You're telling your future self what you're about, and that's always fun” _doctorfrog.[/font]

  • Paz, sed, cthu1hu and 4 others like this

#178 bbMean 1.17.1 32/64bit (inactive)

Posted by diabol on 01 February 2014 - 10:43 AM

You see, I have turned the moon into what I would like to call.. a death star :D


Hi guys, I am diabol and I've been working on revitalizing bb's code.

I am slow, like veeeeeery slow, but at the very least I would like to present today bbMean. It is a "branch" of bbLean 1.17 and born out of my desire to correctly run bbLean on windows 7 in 64bits with menu icons, so yeah, I found the flags and switched them.



- everything bbLean has to offer

- no support for 32bit plugins (yay!)

- also I have fixed a bug in bblib for autohiding windows with transparency disabled which has gone unnoticed for basically forever

- folders in bbIconBox open as menu when clicked (as opposed to opening explorer)

- source code is a huge mess o/

- build process is a mix of msys' make (should be in your path) and msbuild, using msvc



- changing the build process from makefiles to msbuild and creating VS solutions/projects (or cmake if anybody cares about being able to compile bb with mingw)

- compiling all sorts of plugins for 64bit

- fix up and sync the git repository


Cheers, diabol


EDIT: I've seen what xzero and mjolnir are up to and i am impressed. will merge my puny changes on github or something :D

Attached Files

  • pitkon, innn, cthu1hu and 4 others like this

#1080 lyrae

Posted by pitkon on 20 May 2014 - 04:47 PM

lyrae is an accomplished Blackbox/Fluxbox styler and one of the first style authors, uploading her first one more than 10 years ago – though she prefers to call herself “a styler, themer and skinner all in one”. Born and bred Australian, she lives in a country town below Melbourn.

“Used to skin Litestep,” she says, “plus a few shells like Geoshell or something but not involved that much.  I think it was in 2003 when I first saw boxshots.org.  I liked the simplicity of Blackbox with a right click menu, so I decided to make some styles.  Then Linux came along, and It was wonderful. I think I did try Blackbox but it was not so common so I tried Fluxbox then started to make styles as well.  I also started with Openbox and then my favourite WM, Pekwm, plus gtk themes and xfce themes. I was rewarded with 3 daily deviations by deviantArt for my works.  Sadly, I don't use Linux anymore because I spend more time in Windows and I hardly go there anyway.  But Linux had made me a better artist and for that I am grateful.”

Here are a few samples of lyrae’s excellent work, with her own comments:




My first style in early 2004.




I don't know how it all started but I do know that the sidebar were very popular in 2004. I think it was Nightbreed who came up with a sidebar design, followed by Theo and clovemagic as well as a few others. This is one of my best ones.




This is one of my earliest favourite theme called Dyne for Linux. Pekwm, gtk2 and conky themes were all made by me.




This is the theme that I'm very proud of because I was rewarded a Daily Deviation for this. All of these except the wallpaper and the icons were made by me.




This is my first Blackbox style for Windows since I came back from Linux. I always seem to go back to this one because it is so versatile.





  • Paz, sed, cthu1hu and 4 others like this

#78 Teac by Pitkon

Posted by pitkon on 23 January 2014 - 03:10 PM

teac_by_pitkon-d5eutvp (1).png


[font="verdana, sans-serif;"]FULL INSTALL PACKAGE, INCLUDING WALLPAPER, BLACKBOX BUILD, PLUGINS, GRAPHICS, FONT and 3DCC CONFIGURATION. This theme is for a resolution of 1920X1080 or higher.[/font]

 [font="verdana, sans-serif;"]After unzipping Blackbox Teac to C: either double click on Blackbox.exe or use a shell switcher like ShellOn (if you haven't used Blackbox before) and enjoy. I strongly recommend a full installation (Blackbox replaces Explorer as shell).[/font]
[font="verdana, sans-serif;"]The wallpaper and the Clock/MusicFrame/TapeRecorder icons are by Alex Almeida, or arcanamoon [/font][font="verdana, sans-serif;"][link][/font] [font="verdana, sans-serif;"]with his permission. Alex did a special rendition of his original Cover Gloobus icons for this theme and I thank him for his time and effort. Wharf button icons are by brsev [/font][font="verdana, sans-serif;"][link][/font] [font="verdana, sans-serif;"]with his permission.[/font]
[font="verdana, sans-serif;"]I also wish to thank Paz [/font]http://paz-1.deviantart.com/ for bringing the ubuntu font to my attention a long time ago...


Attached File  Blackbox Teac.zip   5.84MB   118 downloads

  • Paz, sed, meanmechanics and 3 others like this

#695 Tell Us What You Are

Posted by matteo on 09 March 2014 - 09:12 AM

hi guys

i'm a long time fluxbox user on linux, i've also made some fluxbox patches, i'm even in fluxbox changelog, wow when at work i was forced to switch from linux to windows i've searched for a window manager the most similar to fluxbox, so i started to use bblean.


now my evil plan is to add to bblean some vital features, typehead menu is the first (almost done)

  • pitkon, Paz, Twottitdo and 3 others like this

#4354 4,000 Strong!

Posted by pitkon on 14 June 2020 - 01:28 PM

Yes, people, we did it.

We are 4,000 strong now.

After 6 and a half years, Blackbox 4 Windows is proud to announce that we now have 4,000 members, the 4,000th  one being SnowyCharm who is a VIP member now.

Blackbox is 20 years old now and, yes, the only alternative shell survivor. And Blackbox 4 Windows is over 6 years old, trying to serve the Blackbox community as well as possible. I would like to thank a million people but I’m afraid I will still forget some and deeply regret it, so I will just thank the most obvious choices – adni18, paz, sed, cthu1hu, crowmag, meanmechanics, mojmir, zero450… And, of course, Karl (qwilk) who is still perfecting his xoblite 5 and some other person (wants to stay incognito for now) who is working on yet another Blackbox build with many new stuff and refinements.

In its heyday, lostinthebox had something between 3,500 and 4,000 members, so I guess interest in alternative shells still runs high.

But, most of all, I want to thank each and every one of our members who may be silent for the most part (times have changed a lot since the lostinthebox and boxshots days, when replies were more than topics) but who make this site what it is. Without them, BB4W would be an empty… yes, shell. And we love our stuffed Shell, don’t we? :D

  • Paz, jeannibordelli, molecube and 3 others like this

#3057 Thank You!

Posted by porksauce on 14 June 2015 - 02:59 PM

I deeply appreciate the work people have done to revive blackbox on Windows.  I just downloaded Mojmir's 1.18 RC3 and I'm absolutely loving it.


I'm running on Win8.1 - so far no real issues.  I had to use regedit to update the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE shell entry, but that's straightforward and I haven't seen any windows UI nonsense since then!


My old .rc files from bblean work perfectly.  Had some different behavior on the bar vs. what I was running previously, just because I didn't remember that there's an .rc file buried in the plugins directory that had slightly different defaults than my old one.


I'm a long-time blackbox and fluxbox user in linux, finding myself using windows for gaming and some work-related apps that are unpleasant in linux.  With bbZero + cygwin, the pain index is now below tolerance threshold!


  • pitkon, Paz, sed and 3 others like this

#2037 Diehard4

Posted by cthu1hu on 07 October 2014 - 12:46 AM

I got bored and ported this damn theme yet again. Includes True Transparency skins.


edit 1/19/15: added Xion skin

Attached Images

  • diehard4_new.png

Attached Files

  • pitkon, Paz, sed and 3 others like this