A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…
Well, you could say it was a long time ago, since it all happened almost 15 years before our time, and if for Window users Linux is indeed a galaxy far away, then the parallel isn’t too far off its mark.
But it did happen in 1999, when Brad Hughes designed a new, revolutionary Window Manager for Linux’ X Window System. At the time, the main purpose of Blackbox was one and only: minimalism. In other words, he developed a Window Manager that used meager resources, was easy to theme and was really fast. Easy to theme? Yes, if you consider easy the use of a color picker and a simple editor. I mean no thrills and frills, no Photoshopping (oops, I meant Gimping), nothing that would need months of wrestling with bitmaps.
In 2001, another developer – a Windows user this time – Ben Stormhold, known as azathoth, a figurehead in the Litestep community, decided to port Blackbox to Windows as an alternative shell. He didn’t use the same codebase, but he did use the gradient rendering code – and, voila, Blackbox for Windows was born.
Windows was ugly, heavy and difficult to skin at the time (as if it's much better today…) and there were a number of alternative shells around, but soon Blackbox stood out. Why? Beats me. Kidding. If you want to know why, take a look here http://blackbox4wind...-should-use-it/
I could write pages about it, but I think I will let my friend Karl-Henrik Henriksson (qwilk) who was one of the original Dev Team members (and team leader from BB4Windows 0.0.30 to 0.0.60) take over here, because no one has put it better than he (excerpt from his Xoblite page, edited where old links no longer work):
From the time the first line of code was written, Blackbox has evolved around one premise, minimalism.
It's not meant to be Eye Candy (even though it is fairly simple to make it look really cool!), nor is it meant to be the most fully featured shell out there. It is just meant to be fast.[/font]
The foundation of Blackbox for Windows is a rather unique feature: full cross-platform support. This means that a theme (or style as it is called in *nix) can be taken directly from *nix and used in Windows with little or no difference in appearance. This is rather handy, as it means that unlike most other shells the themes don't have to be custom created for the shell. You can use any *nix style in Blackbox for Windows. You can even use the .blackboxrc and menu files directly. For a *nix user, this means you can bring all of your Blackbox configuration files over to Windows, make only one or two changes, and get an identical interface.[/font]
]Blackbox for Windows differs from most other alternative shells as it has a clear design goal to work towards: To make it as similar as possible to the *nix version. Naturally, some minor changes/improvements have been allowed in areas where it was deemed beneficial to the user (or simply because it was an essential feature in the Windows environment). That said, the aim of the development team is to follow Blackbox for *nix as closely as possible.[/font]
Just as in the original version for the X Window System, Blackbox for Windows uses its own graphics class to render its images on the fly. By using style files, you can determine to a great extent what your interface will look like.
Many years have passed since 2001 and many things changed for the best. Brandon Sneed (nivenh) came up with Bluebox, the first to use window skinning. Grischka offered BBLean, the most versatile and popular branch to date, qwilk, zeytok, noccy, nocd5, unkamunka and others contributed with their own flavors and, finally, in 2012, xzero450 developed the most complete 32-bit system build, at least in my humble opinion. His flavor includes all modern goodies, like split and mirror graphics, outlined text, text shadows and a unique menu grip. And today, new developers like diabol and mojmir are getting ready to bring Blackbox to the next step of its existence.
You can find all older flavors and builds here: http://blackbox4wind...uilds/#entry346
So, the time is now and this galaxy is our galaxy. Blackbox still stands tall, though its minimal approach has been compromised by developments Brad Hughes wouldn’t even dream of. I mean Blackbox for Windows has inherited Fluxbox’ gradient capabilities and other improvements that make it the best shell there is.
Do I mean it’s not minimal and fast anymore? Not at all. It can be as minimal as you want it to be. It can even be as naked as Brad Hughes intended, but it can also wear a shining armor. And we wouldn’t have such a wonderful choice if Ben Stormhold and a dozen other developers weren’t there in 2001.
So, from all of us, a huge tribute to the Blackbox Hall of Fame:
BEN STORMHOLD (azathoth) The original creator of Blackbox for Windows
BRAD BARTOLUCCI (mortar) Coding
RICKY BURGESS (maaneeack) Advisor, Webmaster
BRIAN COLE (uzer) Coding
DAVID FRASER (dreamer) Styles, Community Consultant, Brainstorming Wizard
BRIAN HARTVIGSEN (Tres’ni) Advisor, Coding, CVS/SourceForge Maintainer
KARL-HENRIK HENRIKSSON (qwilk) Coding, Documentation, Team Leader (0.0.30-0.0.60)
JEFF HUNTER (deadbeat) Coding
STEEV KLIMASZEWSKI (steev) Beta testing
WILL ROGERS (snkmchnb) Documentation
LAURENCE SKEGG (NC-17) Team Leader (0.083-0.0.90), Coding, Styles, Support
RICHARD STIRLING (galois) Coding
CHRIS SUTCLIFFE (ironhead) Advisor, Coding, Team Leader (0.0.61-0.082)