BBLean: BlackBox for Windows

If you read some of my previous posts, you might remember that I inherited some old laptops back in December. One of them was a really old Compaq with 200 MHz CPU and 64 MB of RAM.

I managed to install Windows 2000 on it, but since I’m running the minimum recommended RAM, the machine was still mighty sluggish. I disabled all the unnecessary services, did not install any on-access AV scanner (but I set it up to run as a low privilege user for safety) and it still was sluggish.

So I decided to take this to another level and installed bblean – a very nice windows port of BlackBox windowing system. I definitely recommend trying it on your old windows machines as it does make a difference.

If you ever used BlackBox or any of the “leand and mean” linux windowing systems, you should feel at home with bblean. If you never did, it might be an interesting experience for you. Just note that there is not “Start” button here. Just press the right mouse button to access the menus – all the usual Start button stuff can be found there.

Also, when you first run bblean it will start as a layer on top of explorer.exe. If you want to use it as the primary shell you will need to use the “Install” option from the menu and reboot. If bblean crashes on startup you can always use Ctrl+Alt+Delete to call up the Task Manager, and start explorer by running explorer.exe viat the “New Task” feature. From within there you can uninstall bblean by running it with the -uninstall option.

BBLean is definitely more snappy than explorer. The menus pop up instantaneously and desktop switching is almost seamless. Unfortunately everything else still runs slow on the machine. For example, if you use explorer to browse the file system it will take it’s sweet time to load. Firefox is barely usable on this machine.

Now I’m left with three options:

  1. Leave it as it is, and get a lean file manager and a lean browser that will load fast
  2. Install Win 98 on it hoping for better performance (and pray it won’t get 0wned)
  3. Install Xubuntu

Before you all declare #3 as the clear winner, let me remind you that this is a very old laptop with a funky wifi card that may not work with ndiswrapper. If this was a desktop system I would install Xubuntu in a heartbeat, but with laptops you sometimes need to be careful.


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2 Responses to BBLean: BlackBox for Windows

  1. Craig Betts UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS Terminalist says:

    Well, you know my vote is for Xubuntu. I just happen to be a contributer of the XFCE project (look at the credites if you don/t believe me).

    Older laptops are easier to support since the hardware has been out for a while. Sure, there are the few exceptions . . . .

    Windows 98 might be fun as long as it doesn’t touch a network. Any software based firewall is pretty deadly. I can’t remember if 98 has the simple “block ports” option like NT had, but you might be able to block 139/udp.

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  2. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Yeah, I don’t like the idea of win98 machine on the network.

    I guess I could always get another wifi card for it if the one it has doesn’t work with ndiswrapper. :P

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