RocketDock is free Mac OS X Dock clone for Windows that was recommended by Mikael in my article about the bootable Windows PE 3.0 flash drive. Usually such desktop enhancements don’t qualify as free admin tools. However, like PStart, RocketDock is a portable application launcher which makes the tool useful for admin tool boxes residing on a USB drive. Thus what I described in the aforementioned post for PStart also works for RocketDock. That is, you can launch the tool automatically from your flash drive when Windows PE (or Windows 7) boots up, which allows you to open your rescue tools conveniently from a graphical user interface.
I must admit that PStart looks quite spartan if you compare it to RocketDock. Like with Mac OS X Dock, RocketDock has this cool zoom feature that dynamically increases the size of the icons when you hover the mouse pointer over the taskbar. Even though such a feature probably decreases productivity because it seduces people to hover all day over the taskbar (at least I do), it gives you the feeling that you are using stylish high-tech software.
Useful certainly is that you can configure RocketDock to hide automatically. To make the taskbar reappear you only have to move the mouse pointer to the screen edge. This feature comes in handy especially if you work on Windows PE with a low screen resolution.
To use RocketDock on WinPE, you only have to copy the RocketDock folder to your USB drive. You should also enable “Store Settings in a Portable INI” in RocketDock’s configuration.
To add new tools you have to drag their icons to the RocketDock taskbar. Unfortunately, RocketDock stores the drive letter in the icon’s configuration. This is a problem if you want to use RocketDock as a portable tool because you can’t be sure that the driver letter is always the same. Thus you have to change the icon settings (by right-clicking the icon) and replace the absolute path with the relative path (e.g. replace the drive letter and the colon with “..”). By the way, PStart does this automatically.
A downside of RocketDock is that it requires 12MB (PStart 780KB) which makes it a bit sluggish if you use it with a slow flash drive. Another problem is that the number of tools you can launch is limited by the size of your screen. And last but not least RocketDock has no search function like PStart.
Therefore, PStart is the better option if you have many rescue tools on your USB drive. However, RocketDock is certainly much better if you want to demonstrate to your girlfriend what a geek you are when you repair her PC.