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Old 14 February 2010, 08:28   #1
Photon
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Windows shell (explorer.exe) replacement

Nearing the end of my trek towards WinUAE-laptopdom, I now have a laptop that boots right into Workbench without showing any part of Windows, using only my secret mix of handy chemicals lying around and a paper clip, the MacGyver way.

I lied. The taskbar shows for about 1.5 seconds just before WinUAE boots from the workbench harddisk-directory.

After right-clicking the taskbar , googling, reading threads, following links, and trying apps, scripts, and taskbar replacements like docks (things I would not like to do anymore) I read in a 'kiosk PC' forum that someone had solved this precise problem by replacing explorer.exe with a different shell. Ofc, the poster didn't share which one...


So, if that's what it takes. Which ones of you have a taskbar that doesn't show when you leave the logon screen? Please tip me off to which shell replacement you use

I'm on a Thinkpad T40 with XP SP3.

Last edited by Photon; 14 February 2010 at 08:37.
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Old 14 February 2010, 08:45   #2
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what would happen if you replaced explorer.exe with winuae.exe?
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Old 14 February 2010, 09:08   #3
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I'll let Toni field that question.

In my romantic mind I'm on pins and needles hoping that a brilliant attractive female Amiga nut would discover this lame question and shower me with enlightenment cos she beat me to it and we'd know we were made for each other and she and I would get married and have kids and the world would bask in their light, the light of the union of our respective sets of awesomeness.

But as always, there is something in the back of my mind that tells me I'm just dreaming and this will never happen. Shit, not a minute ago I was drunk and happy and now I'm all depressed and bitter.




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Old 14 February 2010, 09:35   #4
Toni Wilen
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Sorry but this (trying to hide Windows) is something I am not interested or even care.
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Old 14 February 2010, 09:57   #5
gilgamesh
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Maybe look at LiteStep or SharpEnvironment, and tell how they work for you when you're sober again.

There are far too few female Amiga nuts.

Last edited by gilgamesh; 14 February 2010 at 12:10.
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Old 14 February 2010, 11:45   #6
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Photon, you said you weren't bothered about doing this in this thread:

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=50227

although you did say you could see merit.

Anyway, did you used this guide posted in the above thread by rare_j as part of your "MacGyver way":

http://www.amiga.org/forums/showthread.php?t=49465

Last edited by Bloodwych; 14 February 2010 at 11:53.
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Old 14 February 2010, 11:49   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon View Post
So, if that's what it takes. Which ones of you have a taskbar that doesn't show when you leave the logon screen? Please tip me off to which shell replacement you use
I'm using Litestep, it'll do what you need.
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Old 14 February 2010, 11:53   #8
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You can replace the explorer.exe with any other exe you like.
The task bar is part of the explorer process, so when you use winuae.exe as shell you won't ever see it.
Also use nLite to speed up booting and minilogon to hide the bootscreen/logon/logoff/shutdown screens

Downside:
- when you mess up the shell-change (i.e. enter a wrong path for the shell) you'll most likely have to reinstall windows
- IIRC Strg+Alt+Del won't work anymore, so no access to the task manager. I know there's a tool out there fixing that, but can't find it now.

Take a look here, lots of help:
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/winnt-based
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Old 14 February 2010, 19:31   #9
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[QUOTE=Konrad;642585
- when you mess up the shell-change (i.e. enter a wrong path for the shell) you'll most likely have to reinstall windows[/QUOTE]

Would I be dragged out to the town square and flogged if I made C:\windows\system32 the WinUAE base folder?

Toni: I know. The only reason it's here is cos WinUAE-users can see it easily and maybe solve a problem "in WinUAE's vicinity".

Quote:
Photon, you said you weren't bothered about doing this in this thread:
Yes, but something happened that changed my mind about getting a laptop at all. I bought one to cope with file transfer hassle on demoparties, and now that I had one and had ordered an SSD, a 'grey/white/boot' cycle that takes just 3-5 seconds was possible, if I could only remove stuff so it'd be a proper 'emulation'

And well, the MacGyver thing was just a catchphrase. No, I didn't use that guide, in fact I was looking like hell for guide specifically for netbooks and the like, which I though was on this forum.

Basically I learned which registry values did what and used some small apps like TweakUI and LogonStudio. It was the simplest way of getting the logon screen the way I like it. Maybe I'll remove it completely if there are no visible flaws.

StingRay: Done and Done. Thx
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Old 14 February 2010, 20:17   #10
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MacGyver was a legand!!!!

Just brought it up because I thought the guide covered removing all login traces and wondered what part had caused a start menu. But you did it all yourself.

Sounds like you've got a nice project on the go. A x86 Amiga laptop can't be bad!
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Old 14 February 2010, 21:04   #11
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Well, as I've understood it this little 'hello, here I am, my name is the taskbar, just wanted to let you know I'm here if you need me byeee' is a hard-coded feature in explorer.exe and can't be affected by removing the logon stuff. Auto-hide or dock or apps won't last across a reboot, at best the taskbar will display and then the hider app or dock is loaded. Yay...

This was a sponsored ad link that appeared more than once in my misc googles - http://taskbar-hide.com/

Bit of a letdown huh. But check the 4th bullet from top Should have read 'hardcore porn sites' instead, they'd get more hits Warning! DON'T download that crap, it's likely the usual 'confirm that you want to install a "security" app that will install spyware and toolbars if you please' kinda thing.

Is this an adult site btw? Hehe.
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Old 15 February 2010, 08:32   #12
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I was seriously considering replacing explorer.exe the same way I hide the mouse cursor, but alas any registry 'swap' scripts won't make any difference as the switch requires a logoff/logon. On top of that, there's the shell part and the file manager part of explorer.exe.

Litestep did indeed replace the shell and thereby the taskbar. Except it was twice as high and permanently fixed in place Oh, and it added back the default desktop icons.

After adjusting my "I'm tired of this shit now" brain to ANOTHER scripting language it was easy to fix. I did try the Tribute theme which is great, but also had a slight flaw, while WinUAE was booting AmigaOS some strange menu or rectangle flashed at the left edge of the screen for 1/10th of a second. Since I couldn't relate the rectangle to any of the theme modules, I went back to the default theme and hid the bottom modules and the desktop icons.

It was easy to plug in my explorer _file manager_ replacement into LiteStep, namely xplorer2. With some more registry trickery opening any folder opens the folder in a new tab in the xplorer2 window.

There was no clock in the systray of the default LiteStep theme. A temporary solution was 'some clock from a shareware site'. If you know a nice digital clock that is always on top and transparent in some corner, let me know

On the to-do list is to flash the BIOS to remove the BIOS splash picture. Can I be assed? You tell me.


So now everything works flawlessly. But I can't settle for perfection, of course.

So Toni, is there some way of making WinUAE start in Warp mode? I don't mind if I have to press a key to restore normal speed once everything is loaded. Download some command, add it to startup-sequence?
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Old 15 February 2010, 08:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon View Post
I was seriously considering replacing explorer.exe the same way I hide the mouse cursor, but alas any registry 'swap' scripts won't make any difference as the switch requires a logoff/logon. On top of that, there's the shell part and the file manager part of explorer.exe.
I don't understand what you mean with that.
Using minilogon and replacing explorer.exe with WinUAE as shell in the registry will hide EVERYTHING from windows. I did that in my CarPC. Upon boot you just see a black screen with flashing cursor in the top left. Then the wallpaper appears (which I set to simply black). Then my CarPC frontend starts. No boot-/logon-/logoff-/welcome-/hibernate-screen.

What do you mean with the file manager start ? You can still start explorer.exe to open an explorer window.
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Old 15 February 2010, 09:23   #14
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Not start, part.

As I've understood it, explorer.exe is both the shell and the file manager. Replacing it as shell in the registry would remove the start menu, systray, etc, again, as I've understood it. You could still start explorer file manager, since only the shell part of explorer.exe has been pointed elsewhere by the registry.

I'm not a member of a tweak- or car PC forum, and I've never replaced system components before. So I don't know all the ins and outs of the Windows OS.

But ofc this is not a pure kiosk, one-function PC. So I've solved the flaws I saw one at a time with a minimum change in the OS, and only changes that I understood how they worked.

Replacing the windows shell with another shell, well there's a reasonable chance that will give full functionality. Plopping an emulator there instead, well, when I close it down I close down the shell. Now I want to right-click some systray icon, start Control Panel, and in general use the PC as I do daily. Well, if there's a way to get normal explorer shell functionality when I close WinUAE, I will certainly consider it instead of using LiteStep, as it's a smaller modification to Windows.

These magic names of handy replacements, well, APPS I can try with a reasonable chance of success and hopefully minimal damage to my installation.

But finding REPLACEMENTS that are stable and have nice features, well that's hard for someone who hasn't been part of a 'tweak community' for a while and sees a "list of shell replacements" on Wikipedia. Knowing which ones do what you want and any issues with them is hard to 'learn by googling'. I'm not a guy who built a mini-PC, has a media PC with glossy and stylish interfaces in his living room, and certainly I've never even thought of having a PC in my car! (I did go 'wtf' when some of my googlings led to sites like 'carmp3.com' though )

What do you use to hide the mouse cursor/hourglass when your desktop shows?

Last edited by Photon; 15 February 2010 at 09:33.
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Old 15 February 2010, 12:52   #15
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Just replace the shell for your special winuae user and leave the other users shells intact.
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Old 15 February 2010, 14:09   #16
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InstantSheller

take a look here it can do it all for you
http://www.gameex.com/Community/Inst...3/Default.aspx
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Old 15 February 2010, 20:17   #17
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As I said, magic names Too bad the names are coming after I'm done.

And I didn't need an app to do these bits for me as much as I needed to know how which bits did what. Anyway. I'm probably a bit more fiddly than most I guess.

Take that MAME shell thingy. Fine. Except I don't want to hide the mouse cursor just during the logon screen, and adding a bootscreen "skin" messes up the boot sequence. I need it to be black, then grey, then white, then whatever picture WinUAE shows.

Since the pic WinUAE shows is usually black as it boots from the harddisk-directory, the color before it must be white, and before that, grey.

If you do that with a grey bootscreen picture and hide the logon, you will get an ugly black screen between them as the screen switches video mode.

The way to do it is to
- replace the BIOS splash with a black screen, if possible.
- replace the bootscreen with a black screen. You can use /NOGUIBOOT, but that will put a blinking text cursor in the corner until you reach the logon screen.
- replace the logon screen with a grey screen and set its cursors to nothing.cur.
- set a white desktop wallpaper and replace the shell to remove the taskbar.
- put WinUAE in Start/Programs/Startup (fullscreen, always on top)

I don't mind doing that myself, I just found out that the only way to hide the taskbar is replacing the shell, and luckily I lived to tell the tale.


So anyway. BIOS splash and warpmode left to do.
ps. Sorry for asking Toni, I'll try to find the threads where the commands are mentioned.
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Old 16 February 2010, 17:53   #18
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OK, I now have a flawless boot into WinUAE. I had to modify a .bat script to make the BIOS splash change 'take'. So, black BIOS splash, black bootscreen, gray logon screen, white desktop with nothin' on it, WinUAE takes over.

I even removed the brief blue (hardcoded, ofc...) color flash just before the logon screen! By using a tip by reshacker dis on Neowin forums and using AsmOne to hexedit logonui.exe, (I tried 3 different freeware PC hexeditors, but they were less competent and less easy to use).

This flash is on all Windows versions apparently, but if you have a fast PC it only shows for 1/30 second or less, so you may have missed it. You can see it more clearly if you set the logon wallpaper to black or dark gray.

There is actually a small flaw in the bootup ; between the BIOS splash pic and the Bootscreen pic, the DOS text cursor blinks twice in the top left corner. I'm hoping the SSD will be fast enough to whizz past this so it can't be seen, but... if someone knows how to get rid of it let me know.


So, only the final step left. Make WinUAE boot to WB/Asmone faster.

Experimented a bit with uae-configuration, but could turn warpmode on at the beginning of the startup-sequence. If someone knows the command to add (Toni?), please let me know!

Also, maybe it's just me but it seems somewhere around WinUAE 1.5-1.6 some check was introduced that makes WinUAE spend 5-10 seconds (just checked, about 2.5 seconds on my Opteron, but ofc it isn't finishing loading windows while WinUAEstarts) before even starting to emulate the kickstart bootup? If someone has tips on how to get rid of that I'm all ears!

Edit: Config attached.
Attached Files
File Type: uae mya600.uae (14.6 KB, 135 views)

Last edited by Photon; 16 February 2010 at 18:03.
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Old 20 February 2010, 01:23   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon View Post
What do you use to hide the mouse cursor/hourglass when your desktop shows?
Hmm. Almost too obvious, that's why I think you're referring to something else than I do...
Anyway: there should be an option in Control Panel->Mouse where you can set the period of time when you'd want it to fade out.
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Old 20 February 2010, 16:26   #20
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I have no idea what you're talking about. Windows loading WinUAE without showing an arrow, arrow+hourglass, or hourglass mouse-cursor at all... that's what I'm talking about!

Anyway, everything is done, so I only await the SSD.

Got the keyboard stickers yesterday, unfortunately no Amiga-symbols on any of them! But I will try to convert my Swe keyboard to US layout with it - even if it's memorized and no real problem (especially on the Godlike Thinkpad keyboard!) it is more proper that way.

Thinking about buying a CF to pcmcia adapter as well - since I have two empty pcmcia bays. That way I wouldn't have to bring the multicard reader with me. Oh well, it's not heavy

Last edited by Photon; 20 February 2010 at 16:32.
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