Recommended OS/2 utilities
Some popular archive sites
Where to go next
Warp 4 tuning tips
OS/2 home page
for this site.
A swapfile-friendly page.
No artificial colourings, flavourings, or graphics.
Some people have asked me why I dropped the "dropped"
items. This doesn't indicate that there's anything wrong with these
applications, it's merely my way of keeping this page to an acceptable
length. When there are two or more programs that do roughly the
same thing, I recommend only the one I prefer.
- 2000-02-14: Minor site
- 1999-03-04: New: Config
Maint, Weasel, Web/2. Dropped: Config Sort, Warp'n'Go, Bearsoft httpd,
GoServe. New versions: KAZip 1.0, Association editor 1.6, WP Tools 2.6,
Config Info, Phoenix 1.35, DragText 3.0, FTE 4.6b5, emx 0.9d, less,
Lynx 2.8, FtpServer. Miscellaneous minor updates, e.g. a few
directories have changed. Australian Hobbes mirror has moved.
- 1998-02-16: New versions:
KAZip 0.99e, Zip 2.2, Unzip 5.32, FtpServer 0.5, DragText 2.5, PC/2
- 1997-10-11: New: FtpServer.
Dropped: Penguin ftpd. New versions: BluePaint 0.25, Hed 1.78b, Initor
2.5, lxLite 1.21. Updated many directory names as a result of the
In the hope of saving you time searching through archives, I've
here a list of utilities that I personally recommend. Tastes vary, of
and your taste might not match mine. Here are the biases that affect my
- I like software that's
compact, doesn't waste disk space, and doesn't
hog memory. Anything that takes up a megabyte on the disk had better be
very good to justify the space it takes.
- I like software that does a
well-defined job without too many superfluous
bells and whistles. If something is described as "full-featured"
then I probably won't like it.
- Ease of use and a well
thought-out interface are more important to
me than fancy graphics. Drag-and-drop is OK in some contexts, but not
it takes ten times as long as a keyboard operation. My cat likes mice,
but then she has more than two hands.
- All other things being
equal, I like software that is easy to deinstall.
Experience has shown me that hard-to-remove packages are likely to have
lots of other faults.
Except where otherwise noted, all software in this list is free.
authors often request some sort of acknowledgment: a postcard, an
etc. Please respect their wishes; they're doing us a valuable service,
and we don't want to discourage them.
Where do you get it? From
Australia you should go to the local Hobbes mirror at
If you're not in Australia, find your
nearest OS/2 archive site from the list below.
included hyperlinks for files that aren't available on the "standard"
archive sites. I'd rather not add links for the others, because that
people from going to the site nearest to them.
For each application I've given
a directory and file name, but often files
are updated faster than I can update this information. If you can't
a file that I mention, look for one with a similar name; this usually
different digits at the end of the name.
Remark: all of the programs in this category are potentially dangerous
to some degree. You probably shouldn't try deregistering classes or
with the INI files unless you're a very experienced OS/2 user. The
Editor and Mole are safe for just about anyone. CheckINI, Config Info,
and LXLite involve a little more risk, but the potential benefits from
these are quite substantial, so it's worth making the effort of
how to use them.
- Association Editor:
simplifies the job of adjusting file associations
- CheckINI: detects and
(optionally) corrects errors in your INI files
- Config Info: an excellent
tool both for understanding and for tuning
your CONFIG.SYS (util/config/cfginfo7.zip). This is no longer being
so you should also get its replacement Config Maint
I personally don't like Config Maint as much as Config Info - it's very
less convenient to use - but we're eventually going to have to abandon
Config Info as its information goes out of date.
- Deregister: for removing WPS
classes from the system, prior to deleting
DLLs that you never use. Useful if you install software and then decide
that you don't want it (util/wps/dereg.zip). Remark: the archives have
both dereg.zip and dereg04.zip, which are similar programs by two
authors. They're both freeware and appear to be of similar quality, but
I like the "dereg" one marginally better.
- Initor: INI file editor
(apps/editors/initor25.zip). Use with great
- LX Lite: saves disk space by
compressing executables, DLLs, etc.
Very professionally done. This is not the same as a disk compressor,
it works by using a built-in feature of OS/2. (Unfortunately it won't
Windows applications, which are the real disk hogs.)
- Mole: for killing
misbehaving processes (util/wps/mole.zip). Some
people prefer the shareware program Watchcat for this job; Watchcat is
certainly more powerful, but on my computer it had a tendency to cause
- FMshred: for deleting
hard-to-remove objects. This is becoming harder
to find, but there's still a copy at
- File Phoenix
(util/disk/phoenix135.zip) recovers accidentally deleted files. Get it
before your next unplanned disaster. Catch: it won't
find any files if the partition size is over 2 GB, and as far as I know
are no plans to fix this fault.
- Deskpic: an oldie but a
goodie. I've tried several screen savers, but
finally went back to Deskpic (apps/scrnsave/deskp132.zip).
Note: desktop enhancers usually assign new functions to the mouse
If you run more than one of these, it's a good idea to disable some of
their functions to avoid ambiguities over what each mouse operation
(util/wps/drgtxt30.zip): adds a drag-and-drop feature that
the WPS should have had in the first place. Very professionally done.
program is semi-freeware - the basic functionality is free, the
features are shareware.
- NPSWPS: one of the most
popular desktop enhancers. A variety of options,
which you can enable or disable according to your own preferences
- PC2: get rid of desktop
clutter by putting your most-used programs
onto menus. Can be used either as a WPS add-on or as a replacement for
the WPS. Of all the software I recommend, this is my favourite. Takes a
while to customise, but is well worth the effort
- Many people are put off by
the apparent complexity of the Enhanced
Editor EPM, but once you start using it you'll discover some very nice
features. Try upgrading to version 6.03 (apps/editors/epm/epm603.zip),
which has an improved user interface and documentation. (There's also
epm603a and epm603b, but I never got around to installing them in Warp
3.) If you have Warp 4, then you already have version 6.03b.
- HTML editor: there are quite
a few out there; I've tried some and didn't
like them, and there are still some I haven't evaluated. For now I'm
EPM 6.03b (see above) with the HTML extensions
To use htmepm98 with Warp
4, you'll have to recompile the .E file, and
for this you'll need to fetch apps/editors/epm/epmapp.zip, extract
from this file (ignoring the rest of the zip file, which mostly
things you already have), and put it into a directory in your PATH, for
example OS2\APPS. ETPM is the compiler that converts a .E file to a .EX
file. Remark: you'll find that you already have a HTMLTAGS.EX that was
supplied with Warp 4; but the one from htmepm98 is, in my opinion,
- FTE editor
(apps/editors/fteo46b5.zip): So far I've looked at this only briefly,
but it looks very promising for the sort of people who want to
do things like configure their own key bindings. Will appeal more to
than to non-programmers.
- Binary editor: there are
several available. The one I like best so
far is Hed (apps/editors/hed178b.zip).
- If you want an RPN
scientific calculator, the best one available seems to be MACalc.
- Memsize: displays details
like swap file size, free disk space, etc.
Rick Papo's web page for new
releases and other useful software.
Note: don't install any server software unless you're sure you need it.
The average OS/2 user doesn't need any servers running.
"getting started with PPP" package, assembled from parts available
elsewhere on the net. Intended for use by University of Newcastle
but could be used by others if you can work out how to modify the
- Time868: for setting your
clock from a network time server (apps/internet/time/time868.zip).
Includes a good-sized list of servers, which improves your chances of
one near you. Also includes a valuable utility for setting your time
- NcFTP: a text-mode FTP
client (unix/apps/internet/ncftp2r1.zip). Once you get used to this
you'll find it a lot more convenient than FTPPM (it's totally
mouse-free!). To get this working you also need the emx run-time
(dev/emx/v0.9d/emxrt.zip); and optionally the "less" program
- Need a better dialler? Then
fetch the packages PPPdial (apps/internet/dialer/ppdial31.zip)
and PPPfake (util/network/tcpip/pppfk101.zip). You'll probably also
it worth while fetching the PPP documentation
PPPdial does require some work on your part to get the response files
but you end up with benefits such as redialling capability.
- If you want an off-line
news reader, try slrn - its big virtue
is that it can be used either on-line or off-line. The Hobbes archive
of slrn is a little out of date. To get the latest version, go to http://www.bgnett.no/~bjoff/slrn.html.
Hint: if you read news on more than one machine, you might be
the "jnews.rc" file between machines. (Many newsreaders use the
same format for this file, although most call it something like
(apps/internet/www/browser/os2lynx2_8.zip) might not be the prettiest
web browser around, but it's definitely the fastest. Highly recommended
for those who are sick of unnecessary graphics. This version even
- Ftp and e-mail servers: I
wasn't happy with any of the available servers, so I wrote my own. See
FtpServer and Weasel on my software page.
(These aren't freeware, they're non-crippled shareware.)
- WWW server: I've tried
several, and in my opinion the one that stands out ahead of all the
others, especially in terms of putting a light load on your system, is
- Audio mixers: If you think
the MMOS2 volume control is a bit too crude, you
need a mixer. There are several mixers in the Hobbes directory
and you need to choose the one that's appropriate for the sound card
Special note for PAS-16
users: Mixer support for the PAS-16 was (accidentally?)
dropped from Warp 4, but there's a fix for this problem at
I haven't yet worked out whether the new driver is incorporated in any
of the Warp 4 fixpacks.
- If you have a Soundblaster,
it's worth getting the latest driver (system/drivers/sound/sb_os2.zip).
- CD player: I like CD In A
but CD Explorer (apps/mmedia/cd/player/cdexpl.zip), but is roughly as
(The differences between them boil down to fine points of personal
which is why I can't decide which one to recommend.) Both offer extra
- e.g. track titles - beyond what you get in the CD player that comes
Warp 3, and they're not as buggy as the CD player that comes with Warp
If you want to use the
absolute minimum of disk space, then Small CD is an
excellent "no-frills" substitute. Unfortunately the web site that
used to have this no longer exists, but I'm leaving this note in place
I find it somewhere else.
- Sound scheme editor
(apps/mmedia/scheme/sound16.zip). Designed for
Warp 4; I wouldn't expect it to work with earlier versions of OS/2.
- If you have a joystick,
there's a device driver at
- Looking for a virtual disk?
You already have one. Type "help vdisk"
at a command prompt.
- If you want a program to
reboot your machine, type "help setboot".
- "Paint" programs are hard to
find, but BluePaint (apps/graphics/paint/blpnt025.zip)
is a good start. (Fairly basic, but it does the job.)
- Fixpacks are like beta-test
software: they're likely to break more
than they fix. I suggest that you avoid them unless you have a problem
that you know they'll fix.
I found all of the early
Warp 3 fixpacks disappointing, and ended up backing
out of all of them to remove the problems they introduced. Note however
there have been many Warp 3 fixpacks released since I moved to Warp 4,
apparently the later ones have a better reputation than the early ones.
Fixpack 1 for Warp 4 was
worth installing, since it solved
a major bug that could lock up the WPS. At the same time, it introduced
buggy SEAMLESS.DLL that could cause Windows applications to fail. I
yet tried the later fixpacks. The impression I've had from other people
that Fixpack 8 is reasonable but that Fixpacks 9 and 10 are best
A good place to look for
up-to-date information on fixpacks is the
OS/2 Super Site Master
There's a special section
of Hell reserved for the people who write video
drivers. Every manufacturer-supplied video driver I've ever tried has
inferior to the drivers that come supplied with OS/2. Stay away from
upgrades unless you can get confirmation from someone that they work
crashing the system.
Once you start using programs ported from Unix you'll have to fiddle
with environment variables, and there's also a high probability of
caused by having multiple copies of the same DLL. To avoid future
I suggest that you proceed as follows.
- Create a special directory
(e.g. e:\Apps\Unix) to act as your Unix
"home" directory, and put any Unix ports in subdirectories of
that. This will reduce the likelihood of conflicting SET statements.
- Install a clean copy of the
latest EMXRT library (dev/emx/v0.9d/emxrt.zip).
- Hunt down and delete any
other copies of emx*.* that you have on your
disk. (If you've installed a lot of shareware/freeware, you'll be
at how many obsolete copies you have of emx. While you're at it, you
as well also clean up all the duplicates of VROBJ.DLL.)
- Put the following lines into
your CONFIG.SYS, adjusting the directory
paths as appropriate:
Also include e:\Apps\Unix\emx\dll in your LIBPATH. Depending on the
you install, you might have to make further CONFIG.SYS changes; but as
a general rule I ignore any instructions to add rubbish to my
until I discover whether it's really necessary. (It usually isn't,
what the authors say).
Remark: there's an enormous amount of overlap in what's held at these
Normally it suffices to look at the site nearest to you, and ignore the
ftp site for OS/2 software.
(USA). Very complete
but often congested.
- South African
official IBM site
(USA). Hard to reach, but contains some things (patches, etc.) that you
might not find at other archive sites.
(USA). Very complete
but often congested.
archive of OS/2 material.
- For a more extensive list of
software, see Gary Hammer's
"Must Have" utilities (US site).
(If you've been there before,
and want to go directly to the HTML 3 page,
this link will get you there.)
- I'm not the only person to
have put together freeware lists. See also
- Every OS/2 user should visit
Warp Pharmacy. Lots of
trouble-shooting information and useful advice.
- Having trouble installing
OS/2 Warp? See Frank McKenney's
- Can't get your internet
John Silvia has the answers.
This is the man who even knows how to
get Ultimail Lite to work. If you can't get this page, here's a
second source for the same
- Look here
for a big list of internet applications. An even bigger list, but with
fewer details, can be found
- You'll probably want a copy
of the Timothy Sipples
Frequently Asked Questions list.
If you can't reach that site, try
- Visit the directory put
together by the
MIT User Group. Lots of links to
other good stuff.
- Need advice on sound cards?
The Ultimate Sound Page has a
good FAQ on a variety of sound hardware,
and lots of other music-related software and information.
- If you're concerned about
hardware compatibility issues and the like,
Should I buy Warp? FAQ. Don't
skip the introduction, which has pointers
to some other FAQ material.
No particular reason for listing these pointers, they're here just in
you want a look.
Back to the OS/2 home page
This information was compiled
Last modified: 27 August, 2005