Let’s face it, there are lots of people who never heard of Blackbox and they wonder what it is and how (and why) should they use it. And it's a good thing they show interest, because after a period of hibernation, due to many factors (mostly developers dropping out) Blackbox is back with a vengeance.
Well, Blackbox is a shell for Windows or a window manager for Linux, the styles (themes) being interchangeable between the two platforms, something unique in computing. In this introduction I will only talk about the Windows flavor, since it's much more flexible than its Linux counterpart.
What is a shell? Well, it's the dressing over a cake, the clothing over a body, the greenery covering a bush. Every operating system has a shell. The Windows' native shell is Explorer, which is not only a file browser, like most of you may think. Delete Explorer and Windows crash. It's a fine shell, especially in the case of Windows 7 and 10, but it's heavy, slow, with very few options.
Over the years a lot of alternative shells have been developed to make for Explorer's (and, thus, Windows') shortcomings. Litestep, Blackbox, Serenade, Talisman, Aston, WinStep, DesktopX, are just a few. Some of them, like Blackbox and Litestep, are free, while some others, like Aston and DesktopX, are commercial programs.
Blackbox is unique among them, in that it offers very specialized and rare options. Here are just a few of the many things this shell can do:
1) Colors and textures change on the fly with each style (theme) switch. No need to look around for third party apps that "look well" with or match each specific theme.
2) Windows decorations are embedded in Blackbox' modus operandum and also offer colors and textures that change with each theme switch – again, no need to look around for third party (and often expensive) apps.
3) Blackbox comes with a plethora of plugins (think of them as widgets, although they are much more than that) that are also part of the change theme/change everything philosophy. Some are so powerful that let you create docks, wharfs, audio players, wallpaper viewers, system meters and a lot more within a few minutes. No programming experience required!
4) Blackbox' desktop is alive. You just drop things on it and they become wallpaper or whatever.
5) Blackbox is the lightest shell there is. This means more speed, more power.
6) Themeing is relatively easy and anyone can create their own styles using a simple text editor like Notepad (although Blackbox does have its own editor, BBNote) and a color picker. Again, no programming or Photoshopping required – although you CAN use graphic files in your elements, if you so wish.
7) Blackbox creates its own backgrounds, if it senses you haven't picked any. Or, you can create wallpapers of any texture and color using its build-in mechanisms. Piece of cake.
8) Blackbox themes can include 3dcc configurations in the style file, which means all window colors change with each theme switch to match the rest of the elements, without the need to call up individual 3dcc files.
9) Blackbox offers multiple desktops - as many as you like - so no more clutter with too many open applications on one workspace. Till now, using Windows you had to buy third party apps for more desktops, but Blackox includes this option for free.
10) If you are a Linux user with a *box Window Manager (Blackbox, Fluxbox, Hacked Box and early builds of Openbox) and are obliged to work with Windows (obliged seems to be the proper word) you can migrate your styles and your Linux GUI to Windows using Blackbox for Windows. Most nix styles work flawlessly on the Windows' version of your beloved WM.
You can download any Blackbox build and plugin, for 32- or 64-bit systems, from our Downloads section. And you can read tutorials in our Forum section. Finally, you can always ask for help or provide ideas and suggestions on our Forum section.