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Windows 9x Shell Tweak Guide (Page 2/3)

Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Posted: October 4, 1999

Not Satisfied with the Windows 95 shell?

This section is for Windows 95 users and Windows 98 users that either don't want to violate the licensing agreement they have with Microsoft or just aren't satisfied with the Windows 95 shell. Most of these setups will require two different programs: A shell replacement and a window replacement. The shell replacement is what actually replaces the taskbar, while the window replacement replaces IE when viewing folders. A great source for information on new shell and window replacements is

The Litestep Alternative

A great shell replacement is Litestep, a Windows 9x shell replacement that models itself after the AfterStep shell for the WindowsX GUI (for UNIX and Linux). It is an impressive little piece of creative programming, giving the user full control over the look and feel of the OS. There are a few problems with Litestep, however. The first is its high learning curve. They packed everything into this shell, including some of the cryptic coding of its UNIX/Linux background. Setting up and configuring this jewel will easily take a few hours, and if you decide that you want to change your Desktop theme, expect at least another hour of work. Litestep lacks an automated way to set itself up, so everything needs to be set up by doing some manual coding within its text configuration files. Floach's website has info about the alternative shell scene in general and stuff on specific shells (including but not limited to Litestep).

Don't expect Litestep to be bug free. While it is better than the Windows 98 shell, it still isn't perfect. Getting a development build [Litestep Dev] may solve some of your problems, but there is no guarantee that it will work either. I must give its creators credit, however, because of the way it gracefully recovers from crashes. It doesn't even close any of your open windows during a shell crash. It is kind of nice, and if you can get it working, it works the way YOU want it, rather than the way our near holy friend Bill wants it to work.

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