GhostShell Preview

Discussion in 'Other Ghost Security Software' started by Jason_R0, Apr 23, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    Here is what I have been working on for the past few months, it is a shell replacement for Windows 2K,XP,2003 and XP64. The basic premise of GhostShell is to provide nearly everything explorer.exe does, but do it optimally without any bloat, without any backdoors and to improve on the actual user experience by placing UI items better. GhostShell will combine with the next version of GSS to provide some unique features - and allow better user interaction.

    Developing GhostShell has allowed me to really stretch out and develop a very good graphical interface library which allows quicker app development and most importantly less resource usage and complete theme support. This code is going to be put into every Ghost Security application soon enough, and forms the basis of proper "from boot" user interaction in GSS.

    My library no longer relies explicitly on Microsoft provided code and can be rendered by GDI, DirectDraw, Direct3D, OpenGL, software VGA or whatever is available. At the moment I have only coded 2 backends, those being GDI and OPENGL. In the future, I will pretty much be the only developer who can do some really "low level" advanced user interaction thanks to this library, however I won't go too into too much detail regarding this just yet.

    Theme support is no longer going to be controlled by me, as each application will easily support complete theming "out of the box", and also provide a few "emulation" layers of certain controls, like the classic Windows look (which you can see in one of the screenshots). This means if you do not like the standard app look and prefer the simple normal everyday windows look, it will be possible (yes the emails about this will finally stop ;)).

    Finally the release date is very close, probably within a week fingers crossed. After it is released I'll be giving it about a 2 week window of fixes and updates based upon the feedback I get before the code starts being rolled out into the next version of GSS.

    http://www.ghostsecurity.com/images/gs_def02s.jpg

    http://www.ghostsecurity.com/images/gs_def01s.jpg

    http://www.ghostsecurity.com/images/gs_win95s.jpg
     
  2. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    4,047
    Location:
    France, May 1968
    Simply amazing :eek: :eek:
     
  3. steve161

    steve161 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Posts:
    681
    Location:
    New York
    Hey Jason:

    Looks good. As a user of geoshell, this is something I would be interested in.
     
  4. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    Geoshell and the other shells are always going to have some advantages over what I am going to be offering. They really let you have something much different to explorer, at sometimes greater complexity, and also support plugins. My approach was different, I wanted something similar to explorer because for the most part there is nothing wrong with it functionally and most people are used to it. Basically I wanted GSS users to be able to use GhostShell as their shell without them going "oh I wish I still had explorer.exe" because it allows me to give them better options.

    GhostShell advantages include :-
    -I'm a relatively seasoned developer compared to the highschool/college kids who are mostly doing those open source shells.
    -3D acceleration of the interface (opengl currently)
    -Deskband support (prelim but works with google toolbar and things like that)
    -GSS driver integration
    -Proper systray support
    -Tools like media player support, hotkey support which does more than just load apps (insert common text, kill focus app, etc), clipboard buffer support, disk browser

    Amazingly (to me at least) the whole GUI library and GhostShell with all those features comes in at 150KB executable when UPX packed, or 280KB uncompressed, with no external DLLs required. The GUI library is also a *lot* more efficient and smaller than any application which uses the standard Microsoft code, due to the very low level nature of all the GUI code.
     
  5. steve161

    steve161 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Posts:
    681
    Location:
    New York
    Hey Jason:
    I use geoshell only because of the difference in performance, as compared to explorer on my HP XP home. Even if I figured out how to add plugins (not happening soon), I would not be intersested. Every other shell replacement I tried required a computer science degree to use, or was unstable/incompatible/dangerous. I will assume that Ghostshell is as well thought out and light as your other apps and, therefore, worth giving a closer look.
     
  6. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    4,047
    Location:
    France, May 1968
    I have a (perhaps stupid) question:
    How does GhostShell interacts with file managers like 2xExplorer or Total Commander?
     
  7. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    They should still work fine I assume. Some of them do some "fancy" explorer hooking tricks for some things (like intercepting My Computer double clicks) which won't work with GhostShell. However loading them up and browsing will be fine. I will be offering a rather simple browser inbuilt into GhostShell which can be used for finding files and doing simple tasks to them, but you will still want to use the original explorer browser or whatever your file manager is for most tasks I assume. It is accessed by RIGHT clicking the start menu button (UI optimization at work ;)), which allows to view your desktop or system drives.

    When GhostShell is the real shell on the system loading explorer.exe just loads it up into a folder browser like view, so you can still use it for those tasks, and then close it when you get tired of it. ;)
     
  8. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    I have used quite a few shells when my explorer.exe decided to stop working as well as it had in the past (ended up being an obscure KAV shell problem). And you are quite right, even for someone like me I just found it a complete hassle to use them. However I know quite a few of their users are very fond of the "freedom" they have in those shells, they enjoy editing config files like they are back in the old DOS autoexec.bat/config.sys days. :D
     
  9. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    4,047
    Location:
    France, May 1968
    Thanks Jason. Your shell looks really promising.
    Best regards.
     
  10. malformed

    malformed Former Poster

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Posts:
    124
    Location:
    In the Shadows
    How about updating Cryptosuite to include user requested features, like, file transfer, voice chat, volume containers etc. Are there *any* plans envolving the development of CS? Cryptosuite is a nice base, it'd be ashame to not build on that foundation.
     
  11. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    CryptoSuite isn't a priority at the moment because it is in a relatively bug free and final state. That being said there have been some plans to add some of those things requested, or some newer tools to CS, especially in regards to online communications which I think is lacking somewhat in the market. It would also be good to bring it inline with my other products in regards to the codebase which is older than GSS and the other products (ie drop Win9x support).

    Volume crypting is already well handled by the free TrueCrypt, I can't really see what more you would want to add to such a product as what they already offer (they even have cascading like CS does), and it is free.
     
  12. AJohn

    AJohn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Posts:
    935
    Looks interesting. I respect you trying something 'out of the box' like this and will actually be able to try your products when I am not force fed themes I don't like :p
     
  13. Alphalutra1

    Alphalutra1 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Posts:
    1,160
    Location:
    127.0.0.0/255.0.0.0
    Woah, nice. That is really impressive :thumb:

    I may even replace bblean with it if it is as good as it looks (and as light weight and fast, which from your products it most likely will be)

    Keep up the good work and it will be interesting to continue to follow your applications.

    Cheers,

    Alphalutra1
     
  14. docfleetwood

    docfleetwood Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2004
    Posts:
    36
    Good work, it looks nice. But I am a bit confused. What exactly does this do for me as a user. Is it simply a different 'front end'/interface? Or does it offer actual security advantages? If I use it will I no longer run explorer.exe or is that a critical part of windows anyway? Is explorer.exe not secure? It seems that other parts of Windows are the security problem? I guess I just don't understand what it does for me if I am happy with the graphical environment I have. Could someone please enlighten me.
     
  15. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Posts:
    311
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    hi docfleetwood

    What will this give you as a user ?

    1)The whole gui code base will be rolled in GSS after the release of the shell.
    1.1) This will GSS the ability to protect you even when MS GUI code isnt ready(wich mean user interface very soon in the boot process)
    1.2) As a bonus you'll get theme support in most GS application

    2)A shell is a very powerful way to interact with the user.
    2.1) The shell will act as an optional way to interact with GSS, making some task more easy. I do not know exactly what will be made, but you can think of possibility like drag and drop rules creation, or having a multiple desktop, one for trusted application, one for unknown, This way to trusted/untrusted metaphor take a real meaning as it's on two different desktop.

    3) IS explorer unsafe ?
    3.1) Explorer is responsible for the end of the boot process, som many of the autostart location concern explorer.
    If you replace explorer you can possibly gain better control on autostart program
    3.2) Many spyware register them self as shell extension. Because they know explorer is *always* running they don't need their own process they just act like an explorer plug in. Then you see things like explorer.exe launching ie with a popup window and even with a hips .. and you don't understand what happens because those are two valid ms application. until you use a tool like nirsoft shellexview and you realize that there is a shell extension dll that should not be there ... I know it happened to me last week.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2007
  16. turion

    turion Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Posts:
    58
    GSS already starts protecting your system b4 Win is even loaded even without this new shell interface. I'm sure you already know that ;)
     
  17. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Posts:
    311
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    I suppose you are referring to the alpha released some time ago ?
    Then yes the driver to protect you from boot time is mostly ready.
    But there was some issue with GUI code.
    This is why Jason coded a Library which "no longer relies explicitly on Microsoft provided code"

    That way there's better handling of alert at boot time.
     
  18. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2004
    Posts:
    2,839
    Location:
    North West, United Kingdom
    So Jason, when do you expect to release a GhostOS to go with GhostShell? :D

    More seriously, might an option to import themes from other programs (WindowBlinds in particular) be considered? Given the thousands of WB themes available, even partial compatibility with its format should provide choice aplenty...
     
  19. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Posts:
    311
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    Hi Paranoid.
    So Basicly waht you want is to

    1) take a wba file
    2) Extract it as a pkzip archive
    3) Try to extract some color information from themename.uis.
    4) Try to extract color info from the file listed under [XPTaskbar]
    5) Map those info to acutall GSS theme format.

    It's doable. But it's about as hard as creating a new parser to use WB syntax as native theme format.

    Also WB use extensively many kind of image with alpha channel etc.
    So far GSS product have mainly been made of color gradient so i don't how good is the image support.

    Paranoid, you don't want to be responsible for a new 6 month delay until next GSS release do you ? ;)
     
  20. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2004
    Posts:
    2,839
    Location:
    North West, United Kingdom
    Muahahaha.... :)
     
  21. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    The new GUI code already supports alpha channel (32bit) PNGs. I'm not sure of the complexity to add WindowBlinds support, the problem is WindowBlinds works with "native" windows controls, which don't support all the features I now do, or all the controls I have (at least in the way I have them).

    WindowsBlinds is really quite a "hack" in the way it works, which is on top of another hack (windows GUI itself). The way I have done it allows nearly complete customization of everything - something windows doesn't support, and it is fast and optimized.

    It wouldn't take long for someone to port any WB themes to the new format, of course it would give them a bit more work because WB doesn't offer the same flexibility as I do, but all the basic stuff like buttons and bitmaps could be brought over easily.

    So in short, there is no easy way to automatically convert those WB themes, and if I did convert them it wouldn't complete the look anyhow, so I won't be adding support for it.
     
  22. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    By the time I'm done with Windows, I don't think you won't be able to tell it isn't GhostOS... ;)

    GSS alpha from boot greets you with some ghosts and a few alerts, then if you have GhostShell installed you've almost completed the ghost transition. ;)
     
  23. AJohn

    AJohn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Posts:
    935
    Ghost greeting going to be removable?
     
  24. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2005
    Posts:
    1,038
    Location:
    Australia
    Yes, it already is in the ALPHA. I'm all about the options. :)
     
  25. AJohn

    AJohn Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Posts:
    935
    I might have to add Ghostsecurity to my Signature sometime soon here ;P
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.