Rainmeter is a free and open-source desktop customization utility for Windows, released under the GNU GPL v2 license. It allows users to create and display user-generated customizable desktop widgets or applets called "skins" that display information.
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There is a huge community of developers and artists that create the skins that make Rainmeter...rainmeter. You don't start off with much after installing Rainmeter, just a few system monitors:
And that might be enough for you. Some people just use Rainmeter to keep an eye on system resources, and in fact a large number of the most aesthetically pleasing and most popular Rainmeter skins contain skins that are used for that very purpose. An example would be NXT-OS:
Sometimes you want to have a skin that can remulate a movie or video game:
A very popular choice amongst Rainmeter hackers, the Jarvis/SHIELD OS skin copies the GUI from the successful Ironman movie franchise and while it's quite full on, if you're a fan of Ironman it's something you'd like. There's other "suites" of skins like the Jarvis one for Star Wars (for example).
I've messed around with Rainmeter for a good four years now, and I've shifted my design mentality towards a more minimalistic style than I had before. I've got a ton of skins and I'll be sharing them to Github if you'd like to check them out; however there's only about 4 or 5 skin sets (more commonly referred to as suites) that I have in my current setup.
I'd like to get into designing and creating my own rainmeter skins one day, but for now I make do with browsing the Rainmeter category on DeviantArt and there's tons of talented individuals there. I'd also recommend checking out the official Rainmeter group on Deviantart.
Here's a list of the suites that I use (now, I don't use an entire suite, rather a collection of skins from different suites):
This is one of the largest and most popular suites across the entire internet. It really fits the bill as a suite as after installing it a settings pane opens up and it sort of feels as if you're installing a software update on your computer. Some of the best skins it includes are:
- Steam game drawer
- System monitors
- Circular dock
- Circular clock
Right now, I only use the Steam game drawer - which is really elegantly designed, by the way - and it sits in the lower-right hand corner of my setup.
One of the really cool things about this is it comes with two different modes: "Pollux" and "Castor", with the former being (by default) for games and the latter being for work. When I first read about Gemini I heard that it included an automatic linking to your steam account (like NXT-OS does), however I had to edit the
.ini files instead as I couldn't figure out a way to add my games and apps automatically. I'll probably need to edit it again in the future as I didn't realise there was a quick toggle option to switch between Pollux & Castor, and I ended up with 4 games and 4 work apps on Pollux; I'll be fixing this up and sharing it with you in an edited version of this article.
It also comes with a simple, minimalistic clock. I only discovered it today and it's one of my favourites already.