Websites that look like desktop GUIs


981 points | by fanf2 34 days ago


  • sigjuice 34 days ago
    • mihaaly 33 days ago

      Its funny seeing some of my loathed desktop UIs are on the list - not knowing the rest enough. To me this put websites everywhere thing feels like wearing Halloween costumes everywhere. I mean everywhere, from office through jogging to funeral. Also to bed.

      • winrid 33 days ago

        GitHub Desktop is actually pretty awesome.

        What I don't get is why MongoDB Compass is so slow. It's almost like they have artificial timeouts everywhere.

        • doubleunplussed 33 days ago

          How is it awesome? Last time I checked you couldn't even check out or make a branch based on a previous commit.

          • winrid 33 days ago

            You can create a branch from the current head which isn't exactly what you said but fits my use case.

            But, it just works really well for simple work flows - I like it on Windows for my projects. Has keyboard bindings, is fast, and does what it's trying to do well.

            If you want to do more advanced stuff maybe Git Kraken, or just the CLI.

            • doubleunplussed 33 days ago

              I use Sublime Merge, it's fairly fully featured.

              Seems like GitHub desktop is mostly aimed at people who want to use git like it's Dropbox.

              • CathedralBorrow 33 days ago

                I don't think there's need to ascribe some "Want to use X like it's Y" intentions to people. The tagline "simplifies your development workflow" certainly doesn't make me think of Dropbox at least.

                Maybe it's mostly aimed at people who like the features of GitHub Desktop?

          • asveikau 33 days ago

            I was explaining to someone how to generate an SSH key, they way I would normally do when explaining git to someone not exposed.

            They instead used the GitHub app and their GitHub password. I didn't see any interaction with an SSH key.

            I am not sure how I feel about that. Something seems not right about it.

            • thr0w3345 33 days ago

              You can use http basic since forever with git....

              • WorldMaker 32 days ago

                This isn't HTTP Basic Auth, though: these days git with the right Credential Managers (and Git for Windows comes with a good one built in) support OAuth Access Tokens obtained with full OAuth login flows including 2FA authentication. It's theoretically no worse than SSH PKI, and in terms of practicality is often better because it is easier and more convenient. (For the users, it is clearly more complex that "install openssh" to implement if you are trying to build a git host that supports OAuth Access Token auth.)

                • Aeolun 33 days ago

                  Yes, but something doesn’t feel right about it no?

                  • kdmytro 33 days ago


                  • strogonoff 32 days ago

                    Recently I helped someone get set up with VS Code and Git, and it subverted all of my preparations by simply popping up an OAuth window to authenticate.

                  • aldanor 33 days ago

                    Disagreed, at least on Mac, while there are (free) apps like Fork.

                    • lioeters 33 days ago

                      Fork is wonderful, a well-designed and performant Git GUI, native on each platform (Windows and macOS).


                      I bought a license a while back, since I use it every day. That said, I believe they're moving towards a "trial" model, rather than "free" as in beer.

                      I do wish it was open sourced, but also wish them the best in making it a profitable venture. It's great software, it deserves good funding so the creators and users can benefit from it.

                      • LordGrey 33 days ago

                        Do you happen to know how Fork compares with Tower ( I've been a Tower user for quite some time and like it, but I'm always interested in better options.

                        • lioeters 33 days ago

                          I don't have any experience with Tower, other than having heard the name. From their feature description, I can say that Fork does not have multi-user or team management functionality, if that's important for your use case.

                          I'd recommend giving it a trial run. For me it ticks all boxes for personal and professional use, I'm very happy with it. The managing of a large number of repos could be better, but I do OK with a single "hub" folder to keep all repos, with nested folders and symlinks.

                      • winrid 33 days ago

                        Haven't tried it on Mac. Again, GitHub Desktop is not meant to be a complete Git CLI as GUI. It's free too.

                        I haven't tried Fork. For my side projects I don't need to merge or anything often, and when I do I use Idea's three way merge tool anyway.

                      • jd_mongodb 30 days ago

                        It does take a long time to start and that is apparently Electron :-(

                        Are you seeing issues somewhere else?

                      • w-ll 34 days ago

                        oof... that list is not long enough

                      • MeanSpirit 34 days ago

               this really took me back! Even the equalizer works, and the magnetic window stickiness!

                        • captbaritone 34 days ago

                          Glad you like it! The code’s all on GitHub if you want to take a look:

                          • james412 34 days ago

                            This took me back to one morning early in my career, where I arrived at work following an Easter weekend still heavily under the influence of ecstasy. I hid under my desk from the boss, with Prodigy playing from Winamp into my headphones.

                            Taxi straight from party to the office. I didn't realize until I was sitting at my desk how fucked I was

                            • syx 34 days ago

                              your project was very inspiring, thanks for making it!

                              • captbaritone 34 days ago

                                Thanks for including it in your list! You’ve done a great job collecting so many of them. We have a Discord with a few people interested in this type of thing. You can find a link in the Webamp readme if you are interested

                            • limeblack 34 days ago

                              The winxp has it also

                              Comes with a game, paint and notepad.

                              • Crash0v3rid3 34 days ago

                                I really miss Winamp!

                                • dilandau 34 days ago

                                  Audacious. It's compatible with the skins, even.

                                  • JoshGlazebrook 34 days ago

                                    Man I had so many custom skins for Winamp. It really was a different time back then.

                                    • captbaritone 34 days ago

                                      I (author of Webamp) worked with the internet archive to archive ~50k Winamp skins. The collection even features Webamp integration is you can try them out in the browser.

                                      • AtHeartEngineer 34 days ago

                                        I really appreciate your work, this is awesome.

                                        • pkphilip 33 days ago

                                          Wow!! Dear sir, you are quite the superhero! Winamp is one of my favourite applications!

                                          • andycowley 33 days ago

                                            Also follow your @winampskins twitter bot for daily nostalgia :)

                                            • mikeyjk 34 days ago

                                              Does it work with milkdrop? That visualiser is exceptional. Unfortunately project M isn't as good.

                                              • marcusjt 33 days ago

                                                I always preferred Geiss, but either way, I wish such visualisation capabilities were built in to Spotify... Or is there a suitable in_xxx plugin for Winamp that will let me use its visualisations with Spotify?

                                              • mostlysimilar 34 days ago

                                                Beautiful! Brings me back to my early teens. We've really lost something in modern software.

                                                • giantrobot 33 days ago

                                                  You are the Hero we need but not the one we deserve.

                                                • themodelplumber 34 days ago

                                                  I'm using a Macross Plus Winamp skin for QMMP as I write this, so it was funny to read your comment...I got so sick of iTunes that a few years ago I went back to the old way. I wrote some scripts to select & generate playlists and bound the scripts to keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+Super+Media Keys. QMMP has been really solid.

                                                  • pwdisswordfish2 34 days ago

                                                    That last sentence took an unexpected turn.

                                                  • pcurve 34 days ago

                                                    Can't you still use it? I still use it.

                                                    • taneq 33 days ago

                                                      Yep, still using build 5666, the last build before Nullsoft got bought out.

                                                      • dgfitz 33 days ago

                                                        I think it’s build 3615, version 5.666, right?

                                                    • phasetransition 34 days ago

                                                      You can say thanks for the memories buy purchasing a copy of Reaper, and get a serviceable DAW in the process..

                                                      • captbaritone 34 days ago

                                                        For those who don’t get the connection, Reaper is made by Justin Frankel who was the original developer of Winamp.

                                                      • ubercow13 33 days ago

                                                        One promising continuation is WACUP


                                                        • austincheney 34 days ago

                                                          I still use Winamp.

                                                          • miked85 33 days ago

                                                            Same, I was also a fan of Sonique [1]


                                                          • optymizer 34 days ago

                                                            I stumbled on and was blown away: includes word, webamp and wolf3d!

                                                            • Etheryte 34 days ago

                                                              The visualizers in this are really slick, I wonder if they're built from scratch or borrowed from somewhere.

                                                            • anaganisk 34 days ago

                                                              Only a matter of time, when someone throws an electron wrapper around it, would be funny

                                                            • pks016 34 days ago

                                                              I use AIMP. I love it. Really customizable and has youtube playback too.

                                                              • FpUser 34 days ago

                                                                I loved that one too.

                                                                • nmaxcom 28 days ago

                                                                  OMG! It really whips the Llama's ass!

                                                                • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                  I'm endlessly impressed at how good Synology's DSM interface is. The experience is so incredibly seamless in all the important ways. And it's not just a gimmick—all of the benefits of draggable, resizable windows are there: you can drag files between folders, you can open multiple settings windows at the same time, and so on.

                                                                  There's a live demo:

                                                                  • paws 33 days ago

                                                                    FYI all that draggable/resizable stuff comes from Ext.JS


                                                                    • nolok 33 days ago


                                                                      DSM is basically the reason to buy synology over competitors : you pay almost twice the price the hardware is worth, and in exchange you get their top notch software and support.

                                                                      • Cthulhu_ 33 days ago

                                                                        I am lowkey thinking of setting up a NAS / inhouse server, on the one hand I can build something myself but OTOH I'm hearing nothing but glowing reviews about Synology.

                                                                        • paws 33 days ago

                                                                          I don't see myself buying a Synology again.

                                                                          I didn't want to use mine as 'just a NAS' and was hoping the Linux+ssh they ship would allow that, but it hasn't gone as I had in mind. Certain things I wanted require jumping through weird extra hoops, and system decisions I don't particularly agree with are just imposed. The toolchain generally seems quite dated, the kernel is from 2017 (v4.4.59+) and to me their proprietary package format (.spk) seems pointless given we already had apt-get/etc. I saw back in December they deprecated DDSM, also DSM7 was delayed, still not out and that was before Corona so who knows now.

                                                                          If you wanted the option to spin down your disks, sorry, it's evidently impossible b/c Synology requires you to use their partition layout which dumps their OS partition onto all your data disks. My needs are low write/high read & I would have preferred installing the OS on a dedicated SSD. In fact I paid extra for a '+' Syno with SSD slots, but whoops, too bad the slots can't be used for a bootable OS because there's no BIOS. So something, probably log file appends for services I don't care about are why my data disks spinning 24/7. Maybe that's good for Syno's support costs but it's not great for me.

                                                                          Why not install Ubuntu you might ask? Sorry, not possible == no BIOS.

                                                                          I know plenty of people love their Synos -- if it works for you, great. Just one guy's opinion. If you need a NAS for 'just' file serving then you might well be OK.

                                                                          But if you want to do anything beyond the surface, I suggest looking elsewhere.

                                                                          • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                            If you're not prepared to do everything the "Synology" way (most of which is perfectly fine) then a Synology isn't for you.

                                                                            I personally am very happy with my Synology doing mostly file serving, and I use docker to run as much custom packages as I can. It's not completely seamless but it works well for me. And I really value many parts of the Synology hardware and software.

                                                                            • jacquesm 33 days ago

                                                                              You can run Synology DSM on non-synology hardware. Works like a charm, obviously not supported by the manufacturer but there are some use cases where this can be very handy.



                                                                            • jacquesm 33 days ago

                                                                              So, here is something not so glowing then. I've got two of them, both 12 bay versions, an older one and a newer one. The old one would handle drives larger during the initial configuration than it would handle during a rebuild and this bit me quite hard.

                                                                              Eventually I fixed it by using an old 36 bay chassis running linux to do the rebuild but it should not have taken that, if I had been stuck on the Synology setup it would have caused loss of the array.

                                                                              The experience with Synology up to that point was good enough that I did in fact buy the newer and larger model, but even there there were rough edges, for instance that the model as listed could not handle all the drives it was supposed to work with without upgrading with outrageously overpriced memory.

                                                                              So, after many years as a Synology customer that's my experience, I would still recommend them but I would definitely ask if the buyer is planning on maxing out their kit and if they do to ensure 100% compatibility between the parts before committing their data to it.

                                                                              • tilolebo 33 days ago

                                                                                Interesting, I have been asking myself the same question yesterday evening, comparing Synology products with DIY solutions.

                                                                                I'm very tempted to build my own home server, a bit like this one

                                                                                The only thing I'm wondering is if such a case would be too loud for my living room.

                                                                                • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                                  If the idea of adding more to your duties as a recreational sysadmin doesn't excite you, a Synology is fantastic. And there's quite an extensive array of app packages you can run on them with nice interfaces.

                                                                                  However if you're looking at doing more than basic storage, you might want to look at something like FreeNAS, Proxmox or Unraid. I've no experience with any of these but if you're wanting to do a lot of app containers for stuff like databases, media servers, home automation, Unifi Controller, download managers etc, these might make more sense.

                                                                                  I personally run a dozen docker containers on my Intel CPU Synology, but I wouldn't describe it as a seamless experience. I do 99% of the docker administration from the terminal (via ssh to the nas) and maintain it with custom shell scripts. I'm very happy with the outcome as I get the benefits of Synology (Hyper Backup being a particular highlight) and docker containers running on hardware that was running 24/7 anyway.

                                                                                  • paws 33 days ago

                                                                                    Curious what about Hyper Backup do you like the most?

                                                                                    • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                                      If there's anything more tedious to me than being a recreational sysadmin, it's being a recreational sysadmin of backups.

                                                                                      Hyper Backup is everything that's good about macOS Time Machine, but even more reliable and runs on my NAS. It took no time or mental effort to set up, it keeps multiple snapshots, and most importantly it has always WORKED when I've needed to recover stuff.

                                                                                  • luckman212 33 days ago

                                                                                    Synology is great. I've got a 2012 model still chugging away in my closet with no signs of stopping. I can probably count the number of times I've had to reboot it on my 2 hands. Very reliable. I just wish they would put slightly more powerful CPUs in their lineup.

                                                                                    • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                                      I have a 2018 model.

                                                                                      But I also have a 2011 model that is still chugging away. I'd still be using it today as my main NAS except I wanted to get a second NAS to act as a physically separated, mostly cold backup. The old one is now a Hyper Backup target for the new one, and I have it on a power schedule so that it spends 99% of the time completely switched off.

                                                                                      • bonzini 33 days ago

                                                                                        I've got a 2012 two-dish model too, right now it's only used as home media server but for quite some time I was using it for work (NFS with users and all that, and iSCSI for occasional use). Setting it up was stupidly easy.

                                                                                      • theintern 33 days ago

                                                                                        You can create your own DSM powered NAS using Xpenology to load the DSM software on normal hardware.

                                                                                        It's more fiddling but you can get a very powerful NAS very cheaply this way.

                                                                                        • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                                          Xpenology is like a hackintosh. Once it's running you get 98% of the day-to-day experience, but not the absolute seamlessness of everything working without hacky installation steps, rough edges and questionable ethics vis a vis software licensing.

                                                                                    • dreen 33 days ago

                                                                                      Maybe its the host on which the demo lives, but it seems visually slower than even the fancy examples in OP.

                                                                                      • sjwright 33 days ago

                                                                                        It's a heck of a lot faster when running locally on your own NAS, but it's also worth remembering that it's not just a fancy demo where all of the window content can be stuffed into a single large JS file and downloaded ahead of time. Synology's UI is actually doing real stuff, and the content of every window has to be streamed from the server on demand.

                                                                                    • devadvance 34 days ago

                                                                                      Interesting collection. Between the veritable homages (AV notification included) [0] and reinterpretations for various purposes (e.g., music player [1]), it's a fun mix!

                                                                                      It also reminded me of the Nielsen Norman article exploring flat design and comparing it to three-dimensional design [2]. While it's becoming less and less possible, it would be interesting to compare the experience across different UX patterns for first-time computer users. It seems hard to separate familiarity and nostalgia from truly superior UX.

                                                                                      • AlexandrB 34 days ago

                                                                                        These are interesting resources, thank you. One sentence stuck out to me in [2]:

                                                                                        > Early pseudo-3D GUIs and Steve-Jobs-esque skeuomorphism often produced heavy, clunky interfaces.

                                                                                        I think that this is an aesthetic assessment, not one that speaks to usability. And while older interfaces were aesthetically clunky, newer interfaces are functionally clunky - often hiding functionality (hamburger menu) and wasting content space in exchange for the whitespace necessary to separate elements without skeuomorphic signifiers.

                                                                                        • icebraining 33 days ago

                                                                                          I think the Hamburger was a good solution to a real problem: that mobile phones simply have less screen space (physical, if not in pixels) than desktops and laptops. The problem is that people then seem to blindly apply the solutions where they aren't needed. Too much cargo culting, not enough thought.

                                                                                          • GuB-42 33 days ago

                                                                                            The hamburger menu is literally a failure.

                                                                                            Early Android devices had a hardware menu button, press it, get a menu, simple and consistent. It can be related to the menu bar in desktop applications.

                                                                                            Android 3 and 4 broke it. Google noticed that many apps didn't know what to do with that button, and when they stopped relying on physical buttons, instead of trying to make things more consistent, they simply threw it the towel and removed the button. The hamburger menu replaced it. But unlike the physical button, it can be anywhere, or absent, or hidden behind a swipe gesture, or whatever the "UX designer" thought of.

                                                                                            Normally, the way you do it in a desktop app is to use the OS provided menu bar, preferably with standard labels like "File", "Edit", "View" and "Help". But in a web page, you can't do that, the menu bar is property of the browser, and because HTML never standardized menus, you take inspiration from where you can, and already messy mobile apps is the closest thing you have.

                                                                                            The problem is that now, people design their desktop apps like web pages, in fact, with Electron and the like, they are web pages. So every OS convention and standard widgets that help make things consistent go out of the window (pun not intended).

                                                                                            • icebraining 33 days ago

                                                                                              I think Google - which is at core a web company - couldn't consider mobile apps alone. By having an hardware button, apps and websites inevitably worked differently. Removing the button allowed for uniformity: everyone uses the hamburger.

                                                                                          • efreak 33 days ago

                                                                                            Unfortunately, in the new post-hamburger menu Android, the options that used to be available in the hamburger menu are now even harder to find. When they're still available in the main screen, they're also less useful--you have no idea what they do until you use them (I know I can long press, but family can't).

                                                                                            The best app UI I've seen, FBReader, has a menu, a drawer, and an action bar, and you can move elements between all three of them through settings, and for normal reading use the UI is hidden altogether. If you want to do anything advanced, it gets more difficult though--it has nested menus, though they're well organized IMO. Another UI that I like is Perfect Viewer's tap zones--it has settings for 3, 5, 11 tap zones on screen, and you can set what happens separately for long-press, single and double tap in each zone, plus swipe the top for brightness and bottom for progress control (like dragging a scrollbar, but for ebooks); probably overkill for most people though.

                                                                                            • whoopdedo 33 days ago

                                                                                              As an aside, I recently found out that Microsoft's version of the hamburger menu, the 9 dots in a square, is called a "waffle".

                                                                                              • WorldMaker 32 days ago

                                                                                                Microsoft tends to use the waffle menu for switching between apps, and many of those apps will have a hamburger menu at various screen sizes. Some of those apps will also have ellipsis menus in various places, and that leads to my favorite of the silly food names for menu icons as these are often called qebab menus, especially the vertical ellipsis which is rare in text but common for menu icons so some people don't even realize they are meant to be ellipses, but they definitely look like a skewer of qebabs.

                                                                                                (ETA: Also yes, it is sort of weird that Microsoft feels a need for three levels of menus: waffle, hamburger, qebab. Though in practice it seems better than the Android apps I've seen with 2+ Hamburger menus. Which one is which? Which one does what? The hierarchy of waffle, hamburger, qebab offers some context.)

                                                                                            • syx 33 days ago

                                                                                              Thanks for posting the last article. I recently found an interesting post from Jeff Atwood about the Uncanny Valley of User Interfaces (2008)[1] where he explains how web apps that mimic desktop UI conventions is rarely a good idea.


                                                                                            • ggcdn 34 days ago

                                                                                              Ha, well done. I really enjoyed Ash Kyd's site.


                                                                                              • hliyan 34 days ago

                                                                                                His blog is amazing (Start > Documents > Blogs). I love being able to open multiple blog posts in different windows. And the most amazing thing: it doesn't even feel like a website. The windows open almost instantaneously.

                                                                                                • syx 34 days ago

                                                                                                  Ash Kyd did an amazing job with the design, also one my personal favorite to this day remains Mariano Pascual[1]


                                                                                                  • iso8859-1 34 days ago

                                                                                                    He released the UI library for it:

                                                                                                    • kilroy123 34 days ago

                                                                                                      I agree. I wonder how long it took him to build that?

                                                                                                      • TheSpiceIsLife 34 days ago

                                                                                                        That's fun!

                                                                                                        It'd be cool if it randomly BSOD'ed.

                                                                                                    • neilv 34 days ago

                                                                                                      The first time I saw a GUI desktop (Win95-like) in a Web browser, it was done by one of the prominent kernel developers. Either a proof of concept, or a hack for fun, or both.

                                                                                                      It was especially impressive, because this was when Web developers were mostly concerned with things like rounding corners of rectangles in layouts. Then some non-Web person is passing by, and says, hey, y'know, it looks like one thing you could do with this now is... :)

                                                                                                      • mpfundstein 33 days ago

                                                                                                        you know the tale of the 10x dev? he likely was one of them :-)

                                                                                                      • neuromute 34 days ago

                                                                                                        I started work on one of these a couple of years back. Never actually finished it (is anything ever truly finished?!). It’s got a media player with milkdrop visualiser (you can control the presets with left and right on the keyboard), a terminal (with matrix effect via the command with the same name), various settings and apps. I had a drum machine in there, but removed it because it was a bit messy code-wise. Wanna get some emulators in there, my previous site had an awesome JS NES emulator virtual arcade easter egg that was triggered via the Konami code. This web OS experiment is built in jQuery, but I’m inclined to port it over to Vue at some point.

                                                                                                        Link, for those that are interested:

                                                                                                        Note: the name VirusAV might seem ominous, but it stands for Virus AudioVisual. I’m a coder, VJ, DJ and music producer.

                                                                                                        • syx 33 days ago

                                                                                                          great work, hope to see it finished one day, I really like the transparent UI

                                                                                                          • neuromute 33 days ago

                                                                                                            Thanks, I'm now motivated to work some more on it!

                                                                                                            Likewise, your site is looking pretty sweet too.

                                                                                                        • zcaceres 34 days ago

                                                                                                          Love this collection! I'm the creator of

                                                                                                          Thanks a lot for putting it in on this list!

                                                                                                          • syx 34 days ago

                                                                                                            Hi Zach, really loved the scanline effect and the ambient music of your website!

                                                                                                        • iforgotmypass 34 days ago

                                                                                                          Fascinated and feeling surreal, that I was able to load Doom and check it out on my phone's web browser in

                                                                                                          • wenc 34 days ago

                                                                                                            Wow, there's so much stuff in the Dosbox emulator. I fired up Turbo C for the first time since 1990! (the compiler didn't work at first though -- had to change the INCLUDE directory settings)

                                                                                                            And GW-BASIC!

                                                                                                            10 PRINT "Hello World"



                                                                                                            • klipt 34 days ago

                                                                                                              The MIDI library on that one is crazy huge. They even have LeChuck's theme from Monkey Island.

                                                                                                            • Anon4Now 34 days ago

                                                                                                              Reminds me of an app I saw in the late 90's developed with Delphi. I never used Delphi, but apparently it had the ability to compile an app to an ActiveX plug-in and run a full desktop-like application in Internet Explorer. Of course, ActiveX had major security problems, but the UX was amazing.

                                                                                                              • noir_lord 34 days ago

                                                                                                                I was a heavy Delphi user back in the day (late-90's/early 2000's) it was way ahead of the curve in terms of RAD that didn't gimp you as a developer.

                                                                                                                Shame they decided to go for the large enterprise insanely expensive end of the market, if they'd done a decent commercial version for a 10th the price they'd have done much better.

                                                                                                                Though the writing was on the wall as the cost of development tools trended towards zero - JetBrains have continued to prove that if you provide enough utility competing against free can be profitable.

                                                                                                              • sbmthakur 34 days ago

                                                                                                                Many webdevs have used systems like those for their development work. Today, the web can nicely represent them right in the browser. This makes it quite easy for the new generations of devs to take a feel of those systems. Feels like the Web is giving something back. Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                • boreq 34 days ago

                                                                                                         Website resembling the Plan 9's rio desktop environment.

                                                                                                                  • hiisukun 34 days ago

                                                                                                                    Thanks for the excellent link. I enjoyed the site, and the fun little easter egg for removing the 'bugs'.

                                                                                                                    I was browsing on a very low powered device, so some of it took quite some time to load.. just to emulate things that would have run on a device 10% as powerful as this! How ironic.

                                                                                                                    • hliyan 34 days ago

                                                                                                                      How were loading times after the initial loadup? I found almost every one of these (especially this be extremely fast compared to 'modern' websites. I'm wondering why more websites can't do whatever it is they're doing to load things fast.

                                                                                                                    • dmix 34 days ago

                                                                                                                      This one put some serious effort into it with a drum machine, game, meme creator, pdf viewer', etc. Mostly just as a resume for the creator:


                                                                                                                      • faebi 34 days ago

                                                                                                                        It's a lot worse when you have to use corporate software who implements a windows manager inside a browser window.

                                                                                                                      • mortenjorck 34 days ago

                                                                                                                        The choice of the Windows 9x “My Computer” iconography for the sites is nice and appropriate, but there’s one thing missing. It just feels like they should require a double-click to launch!

                                                                                                                      • app4soft 34 days ago

                                                                                                                        > You're currently viewing the No-JavaScript version of the site, what a boring life you must live!

                                                                                                                        Just has a simple rule: open any unknown website with JavaScript disabled. Permanently.

                                                                                                                        • TehShrike 34 days ago

                                                                                                                          Personally, I was really impressed by the level of attention given to the no-JS version!

                                                                                                                        • borisandcrispin 33 days ago

                                                                                                                          This list is amazing! I designed, thank you for including it as well!

                                                                                                                          • syx 33 days ago

                                                                                                                            thanks for making it, I was amazed the first time I played with each one of it!

                                                                                                                          • xellisx 34 days ago
                                                                                                                            • kristopolous 34 days ago

                                                                                                                              Thanks. My most recent one took quite a long time. I'm going to be distributing floppy disks with it soon as a fundraiser

                                                                                                                              I'm curious though: Would people be interested in tossing $5 or $10 my way for a custom labeled vintage 3.5 floppy, with my software on it, made to look like the early 90s, shipped to them? It's more of a novelty artpiece, I realize it, but I have a box of old floppies, a couple drives, a bunch of packaging material, and a color laser printer, I can put them to work (the floppies will be from this viral image I made about 9 years ago, went viral on its own, don't ask me about the secrets, I do not know them: I probably have the original somewhere, probably on that same drive with those couple hundred bitcoins I tossed.

                                                                                                                              Anyway, I'm about to make maybe 10 of these floppies as a test run (and I'll put some surprises on the disk as well) but if nobody wants to toss the cash my way then I probably shouldn't bother.

                                                                                                                              I'll have to buy the labels, get glabel to have the right parameters, carefully affix the labels and test the disks, make the "marketing" material ... it's not a zero cost or low time operation.

                                                                                                                              This is silly, I should just do it. Who cares if I don't sell them ... my highest profit aspirations here are like < $500 ... it's silly worthless pocket change, I'm just looking for excuses to be lazy. Ok, I'm stating it publicly, I'll do it.

                                                                                                                              • xellisx 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                I'd get in touch with people such as LGR, Retro Man Cave, 8bit Guy and such.

                                                                                                                            • thelittleone 34 days ago

                                                                                                                              I wonder if I am alone in feeling that we have gone backwards with UI. 98.js as an example is beautifully simple compared to Windows 10.

                                                                                                                            • livre 34 days ago

                                                                                                                              I found an interesting Easter egg on that website. Hide the window using the up triangle and touch or click the face of the agent.

                                                                                                                              • syx 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                try pressing CTRL+C :)

                                                                                                                                • livre 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                  Nice one, a Linux Botnet edition. I can't see it very well because I'm using a phone, I'll try it again later on a computer.

                                                                                                                              • pdxandi 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                I have nothing to add to this conversation other than to say how much I love each of these. It really takes me back to a time when I fell in love with computers, and how much endless exploration and excitement they represented. Thank you sharing this – it's nice to remember those feelings.

                                                                                                                                • mwexler 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                  I miss the rise (and fall) of (which is coming back under a new owner; some ideas never go away). See for more. Katie Mitic and the Drebes had a vision for client-computing that was really fun, but browsers and the market just weren't there.

                                                                                                                                  It's kind of funny: the iPhone was lauded for being skeumorphic and then that faded away. Desktop guis also went through this, at one end becoming Microsoft Home, and the other end being, well, pick your favorite Linux desktop ( 8-) ).

                                                                                                                                  Is this a new wave, only instead of reflecting the physical world (why is the save button still a 3.5" floppy?), now it reflects a desktop gui?

                                                                                                                                  • lnyan 34 days ago
                                                                                                                                    • robomartin 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                      It's neat to see themes reminiscent of Irix and Solaris as well.

                                                                                                                                      The vast majority of people have only been exposed to Windows and Mac graphical operating systems and might not realize that lots of these ideas had roots in not-so-personal computers.

                                                                                                                                      • nicoburns 34 days ago

                                                                                                                               full screened would make a good prank. The Windows XP startup sound invoked a surprisingly strong reaction from me.

                                                                                                                                      • coding123 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                        I'm curious about the tech in some of these. Probably a mix of straight up HTML reinterpretation, probably some web assembly, feels like at least one or two are running a full win9x dist in either docker or something...

                                                                                                                                        • acwan93 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                          There's some frameworks that are available for old Windows desktop apps to run in the browser. It's main use is for old ERP systems that were originally written for on-premise to be deployed in the cloud and browser based without needing to essentially rewrite everything.

                                                                                                                                          The one tech stack I know of that does this is IBM Websphere for Java apps ( One that isn't as smooth as the site in OP is Microsoft's Remote Desktop Service.

                                                                                                                                        • paultopia 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                          I tried to make my personal website[1] look like an old PalmPilot --- but the look didn't completely translate, especially on the desktop. Alas.


                                                                                                                                          • rahimnathwani 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                            I love this. It reminds me of riding the London Underground, reading Wired articles in the AvantGo app on my Palm V.

                                                                                                                                            • paultopia 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                              Thanks! That brought a huge smile to my face. I was a total Palm nerd back in the late 90's; I remember buying a gigantic clip-on cellular modem for one to get email on it.

                                                                                                                                            • keenmaster 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                              You have a very impressive CV. What's your production function?

                                                                                                                                              • paultopia 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                monotonically increasing in consumption of coffee

                                                                                                                                            • harlanji 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                              Someone should load up a copy of Soashable. I ran it as recently as 2017 against the current Prosody, just enable BOSH and I think legacy auth (xmpp). The copy on SourceForge can be massaged to run with just the obnoxious browser detection check disabled as it fails in new browsers—an otherwine great 1.0, if I say so as the author a decade later. Xmpp4js that it usess also works in JS Core, as it has its own everything down to DOM. If I can get around to it I’ll try to get it up and submit it, but am homeless with barely functional IT and web access right now.

                                                                                                                                              • 1000hz 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                ahhh this whole thing is so great! psyched to see something of mine included in this list (Minesweeper / among all these other awesome works. thanks for putting this together!

                                                                                                                                                • valtism 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  I didn't get to check many out before the guilt of procrastination swept over me, but yours definitely stood out. Love the simplicity and fidelity of it.

                                                                                                                                                • danans 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  Is there a case anyone can think of (other than backward compatibility with legacy workflows and expectations) that one would write a new browser app with an old desktop OS look and feel?

                                                                                                                                                  That is, are there use cases that a classic OS's GUI excels at more than the typical web or mobile/tablet app GUI, that we have lost due to the typical style and behavior of the latter types of apps? I mean both the interaction model of the windows and menus themselves, and also the look and behavior of elements used to render content.

                                                                                                                                                  • zaptidizap 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    Populating your own menus on c64 and using them with F keys allowed 900+ apm navigation.

                                                                                                                                                  • itomato 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    A few years ago, I made one that looks like NeXTStep:

                                                                                                                                                    • melkael 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      Made one a few times ago, it was a lot of fun to do. Not really up to date but still fun. Shameless plug :

                                                                                                                                                      • symlinkk 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        What's funny is web development has surpassed desktop development so much that it's easier to make websites that look like desktop apps than making actual desktop apps.

                                                                                                                                                        • jl6 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          Does anybody remember the old, circa 1999? It felt like it had a lot of promise, but thinking about it now I can’t recall why.

                                                                                                                                                          • entropie 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            The details are incredible. Really nicely done.

                                                                                                                                                            • mattnguyen 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              Here’s another project that has a win93 feel:

                                                                                                                                                              They open sourced the UI here:

                                                                                                                                                              • catpolice 32 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                Related: I made which is designed to look like an MSDOS era GUI application

                                                                                                                                                                • Ace__ 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for sharing this, much appreciated. It will take some time to go through them all, but at the moment, Ash Kyd and Webamp stand out.

                                                                                                                                                                  I was actually checking out Winamp a few days ago, as I was reminiscing about Geiss and Milkdrop.

                                                                                                                                                                  • LockAndLol 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    I was kind of expecting Qt for Webassembly to be listed there.

                                                                                                                                                                    • peterburkimsher 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      The Chinese QQ website had a similar desktop style back in the day! I was quite impressed by it, the windows could be dragged around too.

                                                                                                                                                                      I wish I could see more classic Mac OS style sites; the platinum interface really appealed to me.

                                                                                                                                                                      • tyingq 34 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                        • grawprog 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          For some reason i was reading something on the CERN website a few days ago and while noticing the layout was odd, it never really clicked it was modelled after a desktop GUI. That's pretty cool though.

                                                                                                                                                                          • phtt 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            I found a "modern" desktop website:


                                                                                                                                                                            • jccooper 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                              So which of these has a good framework I can use for making a (fairly acurate-ish) fake desktop? I've looked at quite a few in the past, and haven't seen a good option yet.

                                                                                                                                                                              • gauravphoenix 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                       is quite fun! I opened a terminal and typed reboot. Voila! it did reboot

                                                                                                                                                                                • bosky101 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                  Relevant => css library that resembles mac desktop apps =>

                                                                                                                                                                                  • wener 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                           JavaScript Web Desktop Platform

                                                                                                                                                                                    • 29athrowaway 34 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                                      • rajbiswas125 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        This is the coolest thing I have found on HN even

                                                                                                                                                                                        • lazyjones 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                          Currently a bit broken:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • atum47 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                            hey, thank you for adding me to your list.

                                                                                                                                                                                            made me happy =)

                                                                                                                                                                                            • tarsinge 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                              Nice to see Poolside FM with some Classic MacOS vibe instead of the common Win9x variations.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • jw1224 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed, I really liked this one. Though if you right-click and choose ""Format C:\>", it does give you a Blue Screen Of Death :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              • SoulMan 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                Weird, I openedthe terminal app in Windows 93 and it recognizes ls instead of dir

                                                                                                                                                                                                • jasoneckert 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I love this. This is exactly the type of creativity that makes the Web fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • keosariel 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                    it has a little of retro look and feel. Nice job

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • vyl 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adding mine to the mix:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • pgnas 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is fantastic!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • ajsharp 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Moxdi 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                            i need a distro that looks like this

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • codecamper 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                            is this done in webassembly?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • kkarty 33 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                              so nostalgic

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • chrismorgan 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                A major accessibility problem with this: the list uses <div>s with click handlers, rather than links. This makes it not respond properly to clicks with modifiers (e.g. Ctrl+click), not have the right context menu options, not show the href in the status bar, and be completely unusable to users of tools like screen readers or those that would navigate by keyboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Never ever do this. If it opens a new page, it’s a link. <div> with a click handler is the wrong thing >99.99% of the time: it should be a link or a button.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • syx 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hi I'm the creator of the page, thank you for the suggestion and for the explanation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • linkmotif 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Accessibility is super important, but gosh your comment here is downright horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's neither not constructive, nor friendly. Nothing about the contents of the page itself. You're basically, rude and borderline hostile with italics emphasizing something the author /should not/ do. Horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Where's your #1 Hacker News site? Where's your awesome collection of awesome sites that you shared with people. I don't see one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • HereBeBeasties 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I found it concise, well-explained, informative and helpful. Hopefully many other people learned something useful from it. The author of the original site certainly got value from it given their reply. You don't always have to sugar coat code review feedback with a meaningless "This is awesome but..." - it's usually disingenuous at best. Surely as hackers we should all appreciate good, useful feedback like this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • wolfgang42 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it could maybe be worded a little more politely, but your comment seems far worse in that regard. At least the parent offers some advice about what to do instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • touchngthevodka 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It appears you are conflating criticism of the project with a personal attack on the user. There is a certain irony in your attempt to do so when you call the commenter an ass!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • cheez 34 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            uh.... what