Okay, so I hate working in Windows, but on my employer's equipment at least, I must live with it. After having had this machine replaced twice (faulty Dell hardware) and rebuilt more times than I can remember (Windows BSODs), for a total of at least 3 system migrations this past year, I thought I'd better keep a list of what free software to install on top of Windows, and what adjustments to make, so that at least I don't feel like I'm wearing a straight jacket. Here goes:
Fix the keyboard to Dvorak (following is for Windows XP -- this will likely change for Vista... it shouldn't be this complicated!)
- Open Control Panel: START > Control Panel
- Choose "Regional and Language Options" (why not Keyboard???)
- Select "Languages" tab, press Details... button (sigh)
- In the "Installed services" section, select "Keyboard", then press "Add..." to add a new keyboard layout
- Find US-Dvorak in the list
- In the "Default input language" section, set the default language to English (Australia) - United States-Dvorak
- In the "Preferences" section, press "Language Bar..." button
- Make sure that "Show the language bar on the desktop" is turned on, to make it easier to switch to QWERTY if needed
- Back in "Preferences", press the "Key Settings..." button
- Turn off all the language Hot keys
To get rid of that horrible, garish blue/green stock XP theme, I use the Zune theme from Microsoft. It sucks less (the theme, that is, not the MP3 player, that sucks more than iPod).
Make Explorer a bit useable. Actually Explorer is total crap, and I'm still searching for a replacement. I like MidnightCommander in Cygwin (
mc), and Konqueror in KDE. But for Windows, there aren't a lot of free Explorer replacements, except maybe Windows File Explorer. Anyway, follow these steps to have Explorer at least be not so stupid:
- Open an Explorer window (anywhere)
- Select "Tools > Folder Options...", "General" tab
- Make sure that under "Browse folders", the option is to "Open each folder in the same window" (Explorer doesn't do multi-windows like Macintosh Finder: it screws them up)
- In "Click items as follows", turn on "Single-click to open", and "Underline icons only when I point at them"
- Select the "View" tab
- Turn on the following:
- "Display the full path in the address bar"
- "Display the full path in the title bar"
- "Do not cache thumbnails"
- "Show hidden files and folders"
- "Show both parts and manage them individually" (for web pages and folders)
- "Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color"
- Turn off the following:
- "Hide extensions for known file types"
- "Launch folder windows in a separate process"
- "Remember each folder'sview settings"
- Press the "Apply", then "Apply to All Folders" buttons
- Press "OK"
Install these programs at a minimum:
- Firefox (essential add-ons: del.icio.us, DownThemAll, English (AU) Dictionary, Flashblock, ImageZoom, QuickProxy, Foxmarks, GSpace)
- Windows File Explorer (a free, sort-of orthodox file manager for Windows)
- Virtual Dimension (Virtual desktop support for Windows)
- No Machine's NX Client for Windows (so I can connect a high speed X session to my home machine)
- OpenOffice.org (also use JustLocal's dictionary / thesaurus files to get spell check working)
- Cygwin (include the X11 modules, Emacs [make sure to select ver 22], pdksh, subversion, python, clisp, fortune, mc, ssh, units, etc....)
- Java SE DevKit
- Subversion for Windows (version control)
- NetBeans (6.0 or greater has everything I need)
- Audacity audio editor and encoder
- VideoLAN Client movie player
- Illiminable DirectShow filters for OGG Vorbis (to play .OGG files in Windows Media Player)
- MODPlug (because sometimes a good MOD fits my mood)
- GIMP image editor
- IrfanView image viewer
Once Cygwin and Emacs are installed, I need to add my dotfiles (from backup), and also install these emacs add-ons:
CEDET and JDEE might be more trouble than they're worth, especially since I'm installing NetBeans anyway. They seem cool (especially the enhanced speedbar), but they're not exactly plug-and-play. Jury's still out.