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Windows Essentials?

OK, I munged it up. I couldn't create new accounts or add new MSI packages to the netbook. It had to go. It had to go. The problem I had was that my install media was on CDROM, but the netbook, being a netbook, has no optical drive from which to read a CDROM. But college campuses collect computer geeks and computer gear, so a quick Hey Rube got me a loaner USB optical drive. (What's crazy is that this drive is almost exactly the size of the netbook. I'll put up a picture tomorrow.)

So, I have the initial install. That was fast enough. There's the drivers to make the thing usable. I shoved a chunk of 'em onto my thumb drive, but I am sure I missed more than a few, including the work printer. After that, go to windowsupdate and get the thing up to the newest. And honestly, I'm still downloading and installing Service Pack 3 here. But that's just minimal function. We're not talking apps yet.

First place I went to was Ninite. There's an awful lot installers you can get at once. I picked up a bunch of browsers — I rock Firefox because Delicious has my bookmarks, but I have Chrome and Safari running, too — plus Hulu and VLC, Microsoft Security Essentials for virus protection and such, .Net and Dropbox and CCleaner and Notepad++ and PuTTY. Not a bad bunch of stuff, but not complete.

Dave Winer calls Dropbox the coolest software of the decade. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm close. It is pretty neat.

I live in a very networked world, and I have 15GB of SSD total on this thing, so I'd rather run Google Apps for what few Office Suite things I need and keep the space. I mean, if I'm somewhere not home and not work, it's very unlikely that I need an office suite. So, I went to get the Google Pack.

All things told, I probably shouldn't have put on Google Earth. Probably too big with little enough use. We'll see.

There's also a whole bunch of tweaks for XP that only come from the source. Power Toys. I first went for TweakUI, but the ClearType Tweaker and Alt-Tab replacement, are really near-essential add-ons. And Virtual Desktop Manager is SO nice.

But that doesn't get into the core issues. I have IE6. It is inexcuable to not have IE8. I need PowerShell. It isn't a Gnome terminal with a bash shell, but it's better than Command Prompt.

He's a few required SourceForge bits. Synergy allows you to share one keyboard and mouse across many computers, which is great when I'm at work. I can type on a netbook keyboard but I probably couldn't work on one, program on one. And there's XMing, an X server for Windows, which connects to the crucial PuTTY and allows you to have your big heavy windowing applications run on the big server and show up on the netbook as just the pictures.

One thing I'm pondering but not decided on is Growl for Windows. It's like my beloved notify-osd with a networking protocol bolted onto it, it seems.

Which leads me to these few questions: I need a Perl, but do I need Strawberry or Activestate? And is Notebook++ good enough for my programming on Windows needs, or should I get Komodo Edit? I've gone Komodo for 80% of my coding work.

And the big one. What did I forget? What Windows program have I omitted that's essential and just plain cool?


  1. VIM. Because, deep down in your heart, you know that everything else is just a text editor.
    Cygwin. Who needs Powershell when you can run real bash? Plus it comes with all the usual Unix tools, awk sed grep etc, and working pipes.

  2. vim? Sure. You know I'm a vi man.

    But Cygwin is almost like running a Unix command line virtual machine. It is not strongly integrated into the host setup. I haven't used Cygwin since the Clinic and I am happy. I mean, if this was a work machine and I couldn't have GoodOS, I'd insist, but on a box that mostly allows me to browse while watching TV with the family? Not so much.