Here's some of the software I'd recommend
to everyone. Take this as a list to make your system the perfect OS/2 system.

Note 1: You'll find very little commercial software
or shareware here because I do believe it should be possible to enhance
OS/2 using freeware only.

See, this is not ideological. I don't mind people earning
money with good software. I just get angry when people compose three dialog
boxes using some visual REXX thing and charge you $30 for it. That's all.
That's why I write all that freeware myself in the first place.

Despite that, if you find shareware in the list below,
take it that I have registered it and that registering it is really worth
the money, this software is superb.

Note 2: This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
If a certain package is not listed here, I have either had problems with
it, or don't think it's good for everyone, or I have had no use for it.
For exhaustive lists, check the software pages listed on my Links page. So if your own software is not listed here, please don't mail me
that "My software is better than [insert your favorite], so please list
I won't. Thank you.


  • "Freeware" means that you don't have to pay to use
    a program. Redistribution might be somehow restricted, and source code
    is not included.
  • "OpenSource" or "Free software" means that
    usage is free also, but in addition, the source code is included and must
    be distributed with the executables. This is most frequently software under
    the GNU General Public Licence (GPL). To me, that's the preferred way of
    publishing software, especially for OS/2 these days. Read my recent article
    in OS/2 e-Zine, "Why OpenSource?",
    to find out why.
  • Note: "OpenSource" is now a registered trademark
    to avoid abuse of this term. Check for more.

  • "Public domain" means that the source code is released
    also, but the author retains no rights whatsoever. Use of the executables
    and the sources is all free.
  • "Shareware" means that you (frequently) get a crippled
    version which you can test for a certain time before you have to buy the
  • "Commercial software" means that you have to pay before
    you see it. Naturally, you won't get sources with the last two.


I am no networker, so this is what Joe Average needs.

  • Netscape, of course. Ported by IBM themselves. V4.61 is out now, and it's much more stable than the 4.04 release, which had a bit of room
    for improvement left.
  • Freeware by Netscape and IBM; IBM
    Software Choice

  • PMMail/2 2.0, the best mailer around, probably even among all operating
    systems. This thing handles large amounts of mail without any hickups.
    My mail directory tree has some 90 MB right now, and I have no problems.
    (Try that with StarOffice.)
  • Shareware by SouthSoft; PMMail

  • Sslurp, an easy-to-use web sucker (to mirror web pages locally).
    Very reliable, and indispensable for developers to get documentation. My
    "K:\mirror" directory has some 160 MB right now, entirely done by this
  • Freeware by Michael Hohner; Sslurp


  • Andy's Binary Folding editor, for "structured browsing" of binary
    files. Has a slightly awkward file format description syntax, but once
    you get used to it, this thing is really helpful for finding out more about
    half or undocumented file formats.
  • Freeware by Andy Key, who has also written
    GBM. Homepage.

  • EMX/GCC, the all-platforms-you-can-think-of compiler, ported to
    and extended for DOS and OS/2 by Eberhard Mattes. This lets you write all
    OS/2 software you want too, but for some (WPS classes) you still need an
    OS/2 Developer's Toolkit. Also, this has a cool 32-bit DOS extender. Even
    though I mostly use VAC++ because I got used to it, I have this installed
  • OpenSource; there are separate directories
    for this at Hobbes and LEO.

  • IBM VisualAge C++ 3.0. A very robust compiler. Anyways, this is
    what I write all my software with. Linker and debugger are superb, and even though the compiler is slow,
    it creates pretty good code. Lotsnlotsnlotsaoptions.
  • Commercial software by IBM; VisualAge
    . Fixes (strongly recommended) are here.

    Even though VAC++ 4.0 is out now, from what I heard, it's
    so buggy that it's not really useable, so I cannot really recommend it.

  • PMPrintf, a very helpful utility for debugging PM/WPS programs.
    I couldn't live without it. Put printf()-like statements in your program
    (which can conditionally be compiled using certain #define's) and look
    at the output in a PM window.
  • Freeware by Dennis Bareis. His homepage has lots of other useful tools too.

  • PMTree lets you look at the PM window hierarchy and analyze and
    manipulate all existing PM windows. A must-have also.
  • Freeware (IBM employee-written software). IBM
    EWS page

  • Rwx lets you analyze all installed SOM/WPS classes, including their
    method tables. A must-have for WPS developers to fill in the many gaps
    in the WPS documentation.
  • Freeware by Rich Walsh. Look for RWX10.ZIP
    at Hobbes.

  • XRay, another window inspector. As opposed to PMTree, this one displays
    the data of the window under the mouse pointer. Indispensable for getting
    window ID's, handles, style flags, and all that.
  • Public domain by Michael Shillingford (CodeSmith
    software). Look for XRAY10.ZIP at Hobbes.
    Published with EDM/2
    vol. 5 no. 1

utilities (desktop, system, disk)

  • Animated Mouse Pointers for OS/2. IMHO, the name of this utility
    is far too long, but the author insists on it. ;-) One of the all-time
    best OS/2 utilities.
  • Freeware by Christian Langanke. Homepage.

  • ConfigMaint, the successor to ConfigInfo. New user interface, and
    probably the most comprehensive source of information on all those intellegible
    CONFIG.SYS settings. The database has grown for years by now.
  • Freeware by Kai Evers and Klaus Staedtler.

  • FeelX, a multi-purpose PM hook. That's pretty old, but I still use
    it for opening WPS objects when the mouse is moved to a screen corner.
    Has a somewhat awkward programming language for configuring the thing,
    which makes it very flexible though.
  • Freeware by Felix von Normann. Search for FEELX.ZIP
    at Hobbes.

  • FreeType/2: replace Warp 4's awful TrueType engine or have one at
    all (Warp 3). Highly recommended.
  • OpenSource. Homepage.

  • Henk Kelder's utilities: EABrowser (browsing Extended Attributes),
    AssoEdit (edit WPS file associations), VFAT32 IFS driver, and, of course,
    the WPTOOLS package for doing INI cleanup. Get all of them, they're the
    best around.
  • All freeware; Henk's

  • HotScroll, which lets you reconfigure mouse button 3 to scroll windows.
    Once you get used to this, you'll never want to live without it.
  • Freeware by Samuel Audet; Homepage.

  • NPSWPS. Need I say more? The classic WPS enhancer (although it's
    really a PM hook, technically). Old, but reliable.
  • Freeware. Search Hobbes.
    I have had some system hangs with V1.82, so I recommend
    still using V1.81.

  • Phoenix/2, a PM "undelete" utility for FAT and HPFS. This has saved
    my life more than once. Easy to use, very reliable.
  • Freeware (IBM employee-written software). IBM
    EWS page

  • SysBar/2, a collection of handy system monitors (drive space, CPU
    load, memory, and the like). Has a cool CD player too.
  • Freeware. Homepage.

  • WatchCat. The most popular process killer.
  • Shareware, but free for private use. Search

  • XFolder, of course. More here.


  • Generalized Bitmap Module (GBM), a comprehensive collection for
    reading/writing graphics file formats. While PMView has more features,
    this has command-line utilities which is more handy for batch file processing.
    Also, this one has the full source code. Very useful for developers. ;-)
  • Public domain by Andy Key. Homepage.

  • GIMP/2: the Graphics Image Manipulator Program from Linux has been
    ported to OS/2. This thing is best described as the Photoshop killer. I
    have some experience with Photoshop, and this thing is at least comparable.
    (All the graphics I do have been created using GIMP.) Probably the best
    reason to go thru the XFree/2 installation hassles with far too many README's, in my view.
  • OpenSource; GIMP
    , the OS/2 port is a Netlabs project.

  • PMView 1.04. The best image viewer/converter on the planet. Lightning-fast,
    and with support for every imaginable image format, even if it's not used
    on OS/2. I have not found anything similar, not even under Windoze. This
    even lets you create OS/2 boot logos, and the JPEG decoding is just wonderfully
  • Shareware by Peter Nielsen; PMView


  • DANIS506.ADD, Daniela Engert's IDE driver which replaces IBM1S506.ADD
    to finally enable busmastering with many newer chipsets. This thing is
    completely amazing, it has sped up my disk access dramatically, and as
    opposed to the new IBM1S506.ADD versions, this does not hang my
    system. I have about 14 gigs of HD space on three HD's, several operating
    systems running, and 15 partitions, and this driver is stable!
  • Freeware by Daniela Engert. Search for DANIS506
    at Hobbes.

  • VFAT-OS2.IFS, Daniel Steiner's installable file system for finally
    getting long filenames on Win95's VFAT partitions.
  • OpenSource by Daniel Steiner. Homepage.

  • FAT32.IFS, Henk Kelder's installable file system for the new VFAT32
    file system introduced by Win95 OSR2 and Win98.
  • OpenSource by Henk Kelder. Homepage.

  • RAMFS, an Installable File System (IFS) to implement a RAM disk.
    As opposed to VDISK.SYS (which comes with OS/2 and which I have found to
    be very unreliable), this one does not pre-allocate a fixed amount of memory,
    but only allocates memory as needed. As a result, the size of the RAM disk
    is only limited by the swapper size. I'd highly recommend setting your
    TEMP directory to this RAM disk.
  • Freeware with source code by Karl Olsen; Homepage.

    Tip: Some applications have trouble with TEMP being
    set to the root directory of a drive. So if you set TEMP to the RAM disk,
    have a \temp directory created thru the following statement in CONFIG.SYS:

    CALL=J:\common\ifs\RAMDISK.EXE R:
    RUN=F:\OS2\CMD.EXE /C md R:\temp
    (replace J:\common\ifs and R: with your system's paths,
    of course).