Aston Frequently Asked Questions
Registration information and the trial version
Features and interface
Misc. questions, general Aston-related questions.
Q: I like the Themes on your site, but I download files and don't know what to do with them
A: In order to use Themes you should first get a copy of Aston. You can download it here.
Q: How can I install a new Theme?
A: Just click on the "Download" button under the Theme you like and select "Open with..." option. The Theme will be automatically saved and applied to your Desktop.
Q: I've installed a Theme but it doesn't look like the one on the screenshot.
A: Here're some most common suggestions:
-make sure the needed plug-ins are enabled (A-Master>Plug-ins)
-some additional plug-ins might be used in the Theme (see the corresponding section on Aston website)
-the Theme designer might have used some third party applications, like Rainlendar, Rainmeter, Sysmetrix or Kapsules.
-if nothing helps, contact the Theme designer.
Q: Aston says, that plug-in ***** is missing
A: Try to look for it in the plug-in section of Aston website.
Registration information and the trial version
Q: I've lost my serial numer. How can I restore it?
A: Please, write to support. Do not forget to include your e-mail address you used registering Aston.
Q: I've applied my serial number and restarted the computer, but Aston is still unregistered.
A: Please, make sure you're using a valid serial number. If you have a legal registration key and still have troubles with its application, please, send us the description of your problem as well as the name and the e-mail address you used to purchase Aston.
Q: I've been using Aston for only two days, but the trial period seems to be expired. What has happened?
A: The protection system has been activated. Even if you don't use illegal keys for Aston, this could happen due to the system time tweaking. We're currently working on the solution of this problem.
!Please, do not adjust system date and time while using the trial version of Aston.
Q: I purchased Aston yesterday, but still haven't got my registration key.
A: Please, be patient as in some cases the company managing registrations requires some time to process your order. If you haven't got your key in a reasonable period of time feel free to write us.
Q: Can I get Aston for free?
A: Yes, you can. But it might turn out to be not that easy. Please, read this information for details.
Q: Can I register Aston on my laptop/my computer at work with the same key I've used for its registration on my home PC?
A: Yes. But only for your own accounts.
Q: Can my brother (grandmother, favourite golden fish, etc...) use Aston on my computer?
A: Yes, as long as you share the same PC. In order to use Aston on their own computers they must purchase a separate copy.
Q: A message like this appeared after Windows9x/ME restart: "Windows cannot find ...\aston.exe You must reinstall Windows" What is to be done?
A: Do not reinstall anything. Just set the correct path to the shell in system.ini file (while booting in MS-DOS mode).
You can do it like this:
1. Reboot in MS-DOS mode (press and hold down F8 or Ctrl when booting), choose Command Prompt Only
1. Use the bootable diskette or CD-ROM to start MS-DOS.
2. Start SHSwDos.exe from Aston's folder (usually c:/aston, you can just try typing c:/aston/shswdos.exe), choose Explorer or Aston. Reboot.
2. Edit %windowsdir%\system.ini file , find [boot] section. In the line "shell=....." write the correct path to the existing shell.
For example: shell=explorer.exe
3. Save the file and reboot.
! Do not remove Aston while using Aston as a shell! Switch back to Explorer, then use "Add/Remove Programs" option of Control Panel.
Q: I've removed Aston from my computer and now on each boot I get an empty Dekstop without any icons. Please, help me to fix this.
A: You must not uninstall Aston by removing its folder manually. Instead, use Shell Swapper from the Start Menu, set Explorer as a shell, logoff and use "Add/Remove Programs" Control Panel component to uninstall Aston.
In the case described above we recommend you to install Aston and then properly uninstall it.
Q: I want to switch back to the default Windows shell.
A: Run Shell Swapper from Aston Start Menu and set Explorer as a shell. Alternatively run %Aston%\Shswdos.exe in MS-DOS mode.
Q: When starting Explorer a message: My Computer or Windows Explorer has not been properly initialized yet. Try again later appeared. Or the second IE4-6 copy (process) doesn't start
A: Start Shell Swapper from the Start Menu and mark in the check-box Create new process for each Explorer window. If using Internet Explorer version 4 to 6, leave the check-box Don't open IE windows in the Aston process void. This allows to run multiple instances of Explorer.
Q: Why does cursor blink when it points to an animated icon?
A: This might be a problem with your video card. Try updating its drivers and if that doesn't help, use two-color (black and white) cursors.
Q: My video player (TV tuner, game) doesn't seem to work correctly when running Aston but everything is OK when I switch back to Explorer.
A: Most probably this has been caused by transparent elements of Aston. Try using a simple Theme without transparent elements, like Aston Desktop (installed by default). Moreover, go to Start>Aston setup and disable (set to 0) transparency for the Taskbar, Toolbars and plug-ins.
Q: I have a problem ****, help me!!!!
A: Please, read this forum post about sending proper request to support.
Q: Some program or driver works incorrectly with Aston.
A: First, look if this program should not work with Aston. As a rule this concerns Windows Explorer enhancements like wallpaper changers, Systray clocks, etc. Necessarily check if this program works with Explorer Shell. So, if the problem does not disappear, contact that program's author. Otherwise, contact support.
Q: How to implement multi-user support in Windows 9x?
A: Try doing it like this:
1. Make a different folder for every user. Place Aston.exe, A-master.exe, printmon.exe, starter.dll, hook.dll, *.rc files there.
2. Change configuration files the way described below:
Now user Bill will run Explorer.
Q: When I return to Explorer after using Aston shell, the cursor sometimes remains the same as the one used in Aston. How can I change it back?
A: When switching to Explorer make sure that you've marked in the check-box Restore system colors, cursors, icons, etc in Shell Swapper (Start>Shell Swapper). In
case the problem remains, go to Start>Settings>Control Panel>Mouse>Printers and set the needful cursor scheme in the Scheme field.
Q: Aston doesn't work on Windows 2003!!!!! What can I do?
A: It works. Just do the following: press Start>ShelltSwapper and set Explorer as a shell. Then go to Start>Settings>Control Panel>System>Advanced>Performance Options>Data Execution Prevention and choose Turn on DEP for all programs and servicest except those I select and mark in Aston check-box in the list. Then reboot.
Q: Is Aston compatible with a 64bit system?
A: The compatibility with the existing version of Aston is quite
problematic. But Aston 2 will support it for sure.
Q: I use Windows Blinds and my Main Menu is displayed incorrectly in Aston. Any way to fix it?
A: Please try the following solution:
1. open WindowsBlinds settings
2. select 'Per Application' option
3. press 'Add per application setting' button
4. find aston.exe
5. Mark in "ignore this application and do not skin it" checkbox
Features and interface
Q: I can't place files or folders on Aston Desktop. Please, fix this bug.
A: "It's not a bug, it's a feature" ©. Actually, Aston offers a better way of organizing data than Windows Desktop. You can't put files on Aston Dekstop, but you won't lose these files in case you have to reinstall your system and your Desktop won't turn into a file garbage.
If you need a temporary place to keep your files, use any folder you wish, and if you need fast access to certain files or folders you can create links to them on the Dekstop or any launch panel. In quite a short period of time you'll realize, that this approach is really effective.
Q: Why can't I remove Aston Desktop icons to the Recycle Bin?
A: This time the Recycle Bin is for files only.
Q: How do I access my old Windows Desktop?
A: Use Start> Desktop Folder menu or create a link to the Desktop folder manually. You can also place icons from Explorer Desktop to Aston's one by doing the following: press Start>Aston setup>Desktop>Settings and click Get Explorer icons.
Q: How can I install a new plug-in?
A: For Desktop plug-ins (*.PLG) go to Start>Aston Setup (or press Ctrl+Alt+F12), then to Plug-ins>Add and select the necessary plug-in (you might need to extract it from the archive first).
Toolbar Plug-ins (*.TBP) can be installed by adding a new Plug-in item to Toolbars.
Q: I want Flash animation on Aston Desktop.
A: Flash is quite a resource heavy application, which doesn't fit the principle of Aston being lightweight. In most cases ANK files give you as much power for creating complex animation effects as Flash.
Q: Why doesn't the "Show Desktop" feature work the same way that it works with Explorer?
A: You are able to create something that will work very similar to the Explorer version of "Show Desktop":
1) Open Notepad
2) Type or copy and paste the following text:
3) Save the file with a SCF extension. (Example: Show Desktop.scf)
4) Create a shortcut to your SCF file in the Quicklaunch or wherever you like. When the .SCF file is executed, all the windows will be minimized.
Q: Does Aston work with multiple monitors?
A: Please, check this link for the solution. Aston 2
will have native support for multiple displays.
Q: How do I stop task buttons on the Taskbar from stretching?
A: There is no way to change this behavior for a horizontal Taskbar. It's just the way it's made. We hope you'll get used to their slightly different appearance (many people actually think it's more natural). You can still control the Taskbar item width if you switch to one of the vertical Taskbar themes - and you can even have a picture on the Taskbar.
Q: How do I uninstall Aston?
A: Do the following: while running Aston go to Start>Shell Swapper>Explorer>%Username%, tick Restore... and Logoff... fields, then press OK. After you have logged off in Explorer go to Start>Settings>Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs and uninstall Aston. If you don't have Aston in the list, then feel free to remove its folder manually.
! Do not remove Aston folder while running it or while it is set as a default shell.
Misc. questions, general Aston-related questions.
Q: Will Aston ever become freeware/opensource?
A: No. We believe, that the only way to keep Aston the way it is now is to keep it being developed by a certain group of professional programmers. If you want a free opensource shell, try using Litestep. If you just want to add more features to Aston, try using our open plug-in SDK, which has sources of some plug-ins. In certain cases we may consider making sourcecode of other plug-ins available to the third party developers.
Q: Would you make me a Theme ****?
A: The short answer is "No". Most professional Theme designers are too busy to spend their time on side projects, but you could try to contact them with commercial offers or to look for volunteers in forums. But we suggest that you should make a Theme yourself: it's really not that hard.
Q: Would you make me a plug-in ****?
A: You can post a request in forums and maybe you'll find a volunteer for it. Some frequently requested plug-ins are also made by Gladiators Software members and included into Aston releases.
Q: How can I make a Theme?
A: Please, read this tutorial. It's comprehensive enough to give you all the necessary information.
Q: How do I write a plug-in?
A: Feel free to download and use Aston plug-in SDK.
Q: What language is Aston written in?
A: Aston code is written in Delphi using pure WIN32 API with some plug-ins rewritten in C++.
Q: Is Aston really that fast?
A: Aston is known to run on old Pentium I computers wit 32 Mb RAM without any speed penalty (in this case you might need to switch to some basic Themes like Aston Desktop, as modern ones require more computing power). No similar program of that kind shows such results. You can enable or disable certain shell functions in order to reach balance between speed and appearance/additional functionality, but in any case Aston won't slow your computer down.
Q: Will there be Aston 2?
A: Instead of keeping on the line of Aston 1.9X we have launched a completely new project, codenamed Aston 2. It's based on a completely new core, written in C++ and will have numerous unique features. More information would be given when the project reaches beta stage.
Q: When do you plan to release a new version? I want it now!
A: Be patient. A new version will appear as soon as we complete and polish it. We may also release public beta versions which would demonstrate some features of the new product.
Q: Will there be a Linux version?
A: Most probably, not. Linux users already have a large number of good free shells to choose from.
Q: What languages does Aston support?
A: There are two versions of Aston nowadays: English and Russian. But in the coming Aston 2 there will be an opportunity to translate its interface into any language you wish.