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No. 29 Vol. 1Wed 01 December 2021Price: 0/0d

WintoLin: Making Windows more like Linux

>> How Did I Do >> Wed 01 December 2021 by Thran >>

The market dictates I use Windows for 8 hours each day. There are a few habits I've learnt on Linux, without which using the computer is uncomfortable and tedious. I offer my approximations for Windows to anyone else stranded in the same place.

Alt Drag + Alt Resize on Windows

On Linux, Alt Drag and Alt Resizing are very powerful window management features. These are immense conveniences for window management.

Instead of dragging the cursor to the window title bar, it is simply a case of holding Alt and Left Click, then dragging, to move the window. Likewise, to resize, one holds the Alt key and drags the right mouse button. These features are common to many window managers on Linux, sucn include Fluxbox and Xfce4.

Thankfully there is a Windows utility that has been developed, bringing this functionality to Windows. It is just called Alt Drag. Download it here.

To enable this at every boot, include a shortcut to AltDrag.exe in your Start Menu's Startup folder.

X-Mouse, focus follows mouse

On Windows, it is typical to click a window to give it 'focus', also known as making it active. The tradition with window management in Unix has been that simply pointing at a window makes it active. This saves the effort of a click, making it much quicker to switch window.

As a little-known secret, the Window manager on Windows has supported this ability natively since Windows 95. It can be enabled using TweakUI on old Windows, Aero Tweak on newer Windows, or a simple utility. I used the utility to enable it: X-Mouse Controls.

It is not necessary to include this in Startup since it just sets the Windows registry.

Multiple desktops

This is the ability to have multiple desktops on the same screen, with different windows open on each. It has been a feature on Unix Window Managers since the mid-90s. Finally, the Windows 10 desktop supports this natively. It is enabled through the 'Task View' button, which is beside the Start button. Click 'Task View' then click the Add Desktop button at the top of the screen to add more. I've added three desktops.

Switching desktop is accomplished through Alt + Win + Left/Right key, to jump left/right.

Shell Functions & Shortcuts

On Linux, it is easy to jump to your home directory in the command line. You simply type cd and press enter, and you are home. On Windows, it isn't as easy. You type: cd %USERPROFILE% to get the same.

Naturally, that isn't convenient enough for me. So I wrote a Windows batch file called gh.bat with the following contents:

@echo off
cd %USERPROFILE%

Then I saved it in C:\my_bin and added that folder to the Windows PATH, under System Configuration -> Environment Variables. This means all I type is gh and Enter, then I "go home" to C:\Users\<my_home>. This works very well and is a huge timesaver.

Here is a good tutorial if you want to master Windows Batch Files, aka Command Files. I've written a number of batch files to make using Windows Cmd.exe convenient, these are all placed in the same my_bin folder and may be called any time.

I've also installed ripgrep and vim, to make the Windows command line even more usable. Using cmd.exe + a few well defined scripts and tools is a much more palatable experience than PowerShell.

Tags for this writ:

linux, windows, command-line, shell, hacks,

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