I needed a Windows MP3 player that wouldn’t take over my system and wouldn’t take as long to download as the typical alternative Web browser circa 2003. Which meant I went looking at one place.
That place is tinyapps.org.
I found what I was looking for (besides a way to legally download a song for $1.75, which is beyond these guys’ control). It’s called Coolplayer. It’s a 170K download that expands out to a 350K executable that uses an ini file in the same directory. Installation consists of putting it where you want to store it. Uninstallation consists of deleting the executable and the ini file. Excellent.
Coolplayer plays MP3s and has a simple playlist editor. Nothing fancy, just the basics. Well, and I guess I should mention it keeps me out of the eternal war between Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, and RealNetworks over control of whatever PC I happen to be using. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a feature, and maybe its best one. No, Realplayer, you may not take over the filename association for textfiles! If I wanted a text editor, I’d have run Metapad!
Most of the apps linked at Timyapps are substantially under 1 MB in size and provide just the basics most people need.
If the executables are still too big for you, there’s UPX. UPX is a modern-day PKLite that works on Windows apps as well as DOS apps. Among other things. I used an old version of it–I haven’t downloaded the current version 1.24, which has better compression–to pack the CoolPlayer executable down to 173K. The superfast, minimalist Off By One Web browser packs down to 359K.
If you’re building a super floppy or CD of Windows utilities, packing them with UPX is a good way to get more space for them. (Betcha didn’t know you could fit a Windows Web browser, MP3 player, and a text editor on a 3.5″ floppy and have room to spare, did you?) Or if you’re stuck with a way-too-small hard drive, UPX can gain you some space.
See, if you’re stuck with Windows 95 on a 386DX40 with 8 megs of RAM and a 170MB hard drive, you can get the basics you need to turn that into a useful computer. And the tricks still work if you’ve got something better.