Contents of the OS2TNT.TXT file
OS/2 Tips and Techniques
David E. Reich IBM Corp
OS/2 Technical Support
This is an informal document, produced by the OS/2 Technical Support Team.
It includes tips and techniques describing how to use and navigate
around OS/2 2.0 along with information on known techniques or workarounds for
various applications and machine types.
It is recommended to read the OS/2 2.0 product README file as well as this
This document will continue to be updated. As we discover new techniques
and tips, they will be reflected in this paper.
The purpose of this document is to provide readers with an awareness of
quick and easy ways to accomplish various tasks with OS/2. There are also
techniques and information that will help you run your OS/2 system on
various machine configurations.
This document is organized in three sections. Section 1 describes tips and
techniques on topics such as backing up a complete set of your INI files and
desktop configuration, quickly customizing the WorkPlace Shell and the like.
Section 2 will cover application configuration and compatibility topics and
section 3 will discuss hardware topics.
If you have any questions or comments on this document, or find anything you
feel may be of use to others and would like to see in a future revision of the
OS/2 TNT document, please contact the author, or one of the IBM service
representatives on Compuserve, BIX, Prodigy, IIN or other applicable service.
Notes: Compuserve membership services can be reached at 1-800-848-8199 x239.
IBM IIN BBS registration can be reached at 1-800-547-1283.
General IBM OS/2 product information and availability can be
obtained by calling 1-800-3IBMOS2.
The OS/2 Support Line is available at 1-800-237-5511. This is a
free service for the first 60 days.
Section 1 - General Tips, hints and techniques
- Reading the README before install
The README file for OS/2 2.0 is packed on diskette number 6. If you have
a system with a formatted hard disk, you can manually unpack the file
and read it before installation. To do this, boot the install disk. Then
when prompted, insert disk 1. Then when asked to press ESC to cancel, press
the ESC key. You will get a command prompt. Copy the file UNPACK.EXE from
disk 2 onto your hard disk. Then insert disk 6. Make your hard disk the
current drive and type:
UNPACK A:\REQUIRED . /N:README
You will them have the readme on your hard disk, suitable for reading
- If your installation procedure aborts
There may be occasion when your install aborts. For example, if you
get a power hit. If you have passed the first reboot, and are in the
graphical installation, you can restart your installation procedure
without going through all of the preliminary steps.
1) Identify which disk was being unpacked when the procedure failed.
2) Subtract that from 16 and add one. For example, if you were on disk
9, then your result would be 8.
3) Boot from the install disk, and insert disk 1 when prompted.
4) When you are asked to press ESC to cancel, press the ESC key. You will
get a command prompt.
5) Use a text editor to edit the CONFIG.SYS file on the hard disk.
6) In the line starting with FIRSTDISK, edit that to be
7) In the line starting with NUMDISKS, edit that to be
8) Now remove the diskettes and reboot from the hard disk. You will see the
graphical install panel. Select OK, Install and all defaults. You will
now be prompted for the disk from step 1, which is the disk where the
procedure aborted before. All of your previous Selective Install
choices are preserved.
- Immediately after install
After installation, and before you run any DOS or Windows programs,
we recommend you shut down your system. This only needs to be done once,
immediately after you are finished installing OS/2 2.0
- Changing icon text color
If you want to change the color of the text under the icons in a folder,
use the color palette to drag a color to the icon text. To do this,
open the color palette. Choose the color. Then press the Ctrl key and while
holding that down, use mouse button 2 to click and drag the desired color
from the palette to the icon text. Then drop the color there and release
the Ctrl key. Note that all icon text within a folder is changed. You
cannot do this on a per-icon basis within a folder.
- Creating icons from/for graphical applications
NOTE: This will only work for graphical applications. Text applications
must have custom icons done by hand.
1. Bring up the program in a windowed session, and use the system icon
(upper left corner) pulldown to change it to a windowed, scaled image.
2. Run the program until a nice graphic about the size of an icon appears
on the screen. (E.g., Mario standing on the lowest level, poised for
3. Select mark from the system icon, and mark the graphic area about the
size of a desktop icon. Then select "copy" to move it to the clipboard.
4. Open the settings for the program, and select the General tab, to
get to the "DOS" icon.
5. Select the create another button, which brings up the icon editor.
6. Select File/New, and Icon, to create a new icon.
7. Select Edit/Paste to paste in your graphic. Clean it up a little with
the icon editor, if you want.
8. Select File/Save as, and store it as program.ico (eg, Mario.ico) in the
same drive and directory as the program (.com, .exe) itself is stored.
Exit the icon editor.
9. (You're back at the settings notebook.) Click the Find button, and find
the .ico you just stored. Using the Drives tab is the easiest way.
Select the icon, and save.
10.Exit the settings folder, and voila! The "DOS" icon has been
replaced with a snazzy graphic icon, right out of the application.
- If you lose some important folders
An interesting thing happened where a user dragged the OS/2 System object
into a drive folder. The user subsequently closed the drive folder and
all drives objects. The user could not get to the OS/2 System object,
because the drives objects were in it, and it was in the drives object!
All folders are represented in the OS/2 file system. If you run into a
situation like the one described above, you can use the OS/2 command line
to do the following:
Use the MOVE command to move the folder (a subdirectory within the file
system) to the proper place.
For example, the OS/2 System folder is called "OS!2 System". You will
notice that each folder has a representative subdirectory under the
"OS!2 2.0 DESKTOP" subdirectory.
To move a folder that is inaccessible due to a scenario described above,
use the MOVE command to place it in an accessible place.
To move the "OS!2 SYSTEM" folder to the desktop, for example, go into the
subdirectory where "OS!2 SYSTEM" is.
MOVE "OS!2 SYSTEM" \"OS!2 2.0 DESKTOP"
This will move the folder back to the desktop.
NOTE: ONLY do this if your folders are inaccessible from the shell!
- Quick and easy way to get an OS/2 Window
Add a new menu item to the desktop pop-up menu pointing to CMD.EXE
1) Click with the right mouse button to get the menu.
2) Open settings
3) Go to the MENU page
4) On the primary pop-up entry, select "Create Another"
5) For the program name, put in OS/2 Window (or whatever you'd like)
6) For the program name enter C:\OS2\CMD.EXE (or use whatever your boot
7) Close all windows opened in steps 1-6.
8) Now click the right mouse button on the desktop to bring up the menu.
You now see your OS/2 Window entry on the menu. Selecting it will
give you an OS/2 window.
- Enabling the UNDELETE function
If you activate the OS/2 UNDELETE function, you should only delete files
from command prompts. Files deleted through the Workplace Shell user
interface are permanently deleted.
To activate this function, simply edit the CONFIG.SYS file, and remove
the "REM" from the line beginning
REM SET DELDIR.......
Upon reboot, the undelete function is active
- Preventing STARTUP applications from opening
OS/2 2.0 has a STARTUP folder which will automatically start any programs
within it at system boot time. Additionally, any programs that were running
when the system was shut down are started upon bootup.
There may be some cases where you have installed an application to
automatically start and it has somehow become corrupted.
It is sometimes useful to inhibit the auto-start features of the Workplace
Shell. You can do this as follows:
When the system is starting, you will see the Workplace desktop
background paint. As soon as you see the mouse pointer show up on the
desktop, press and hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys then press and hold
the F1 key. You should hold this down for approximately 15 seconds,
or until the desktop icons appear. If the hard disk light stops
during this period, your system may be suspended. Release the
keys quickly, then resume holding them until the desktop icons appear.
This will inhibit all of the applications in the startup folder from
coming up, and inhibit the auto-start of programs running at the time
the system was shut down.
- Shutting down a mouseless system
The shutdown procedure is accessed from the desktop's menu. To access this
menu without a mouse, first press and hold the CTRL key while pressing the
ESC key. Cursor up to the OS/2 Desktop entry and hit ENTER. Now press the
spacebar to deselect all currently selected icons. Press SHIFT and hit the
F10 key. This will bring up the desktop's menu. You can now cursor down to
the Shutdown option and press enter to shut down the system.
- Restoring a corrupted desktop
There may be cases where your desktop may have been corrupted. An example
is if you booted DOS and tried to rearrange your hard disk and corrupted
either INI files or Extended Attributes. The following mechanisms have been
implemented to help in these cases.
1) There is an undocumented function in OS/2 2.0 that will backup your
current INI files and CONFIG.SYS and give you the ones that were set up
initially during installation. Note however, that any modifications
(such as shadows and associations) since installation will be lost
and have to be recreated.
This is function is also useful if you have followed the product
documentation and created new INI files you wish to make current.
(i.e.- OS/2 1.3 "look and feel" INI files)
The steps are:
a) Reboot your system.
b) As soon as you hear a single beep from the system speaker after the
Power on Self Test completes (or as soon as you hit the enter key at
the MOST menu or power-on password prompt), press and hold the
ALT key and press F1. Hold these keys down until you hear rapid
beeping from the system indicating that the keyboard buffer is full.
c) This will back up your old INI files and CONFIG.SYS. You will see
a message during the boot process confirming the backup. If you do not
see the message, it did not work and you may have to try again.
This will not erase any files off of your disk, just restore your
desktop to a basic state.
The INI files in the \OS2\INSTALL will be copied and made active.
If you have new INI files you wish to make current, place them
here (but remember to back up a copy of the old ones). Then execute
2) If you have corrupted INI files, or lose objects such as the clock or
font palettes, and option (1) above does not help, you can retrieve them
by remaking your INI file.
To do this, boot off the install disks. Press ESC to get to a command
prompt and change to the \OS2 directory.
Once there, type MAKEINI OS2.INI INI.RC
Then reboot your machine.
This will look at the INI file from installation and merge items in it
with your current INI file, thus restoring the lost objects.
3) If you have corrupted EAs and have lost folders and/or program
references, the recommended method is to simply use the templates
and recreate them.
The second option is to try step (1), above.
In the event that your desktop objects are so far gone that you cannot
use it (this is the last resort), boot your install disks and escape
to a command prompt. Then delete the \"OS!2 2.0 DESKTOP" directory and
everything underneath it. Then look at item (1), above.
Section 2 - Application tips
- Microsoft Windows Product
In general, it is advisable to not keep the Microsoft Windows product on
your OS/2 system. The reason is that IBM OS/2 2.0 includes a full, working
copy of the Windows code called WIN-OS2. Applications from Windows can be
run under WIN-OS2. We advise that you use OS/2's "Migrate Applications"
utility to capture all of your Windows apps and remove the Windows code.
Many of the files from Microsoft Windows have the same names as WIN-OS2,
but are different. WIN-OS2 offers you the function of running Windows
programs on your OS/2 desktop and if Windows files are also on your disk,
there may be conflicts. So, if you plan to run WIN-OS2, you should remove
the Windows product from your disk.
- Clipboarding from DOS or OS/2 to WIN-OS2 programs
If you are using the clipboard to cut. copy or paste from DOS or OS/2
Presentation Manager programs to a Windows (WIN-OS2) application, be sure
that both the OS/2 or DOS application AND the Windows application are
running before doing the mark, then cut or copy from the source. If not,
the copy may not be successful.
- Configuring Program References
OS/2 2.0 is an object-oriented system. Is is very tempting to enter the
Drives folders and begin moving program files where you want to use them.
The recommended way to do this is to not move the program files, but to
create Program Reference objects. In the settings for these objects,
you specify where the program file is. An alternative method is to create
a shadow of the program file. This way the files stays where the
application installation program put it, and no matter where it is
subsequently moved, the shadow points to it. You can then place the
shadow(s) wherever you like.
- Borland C++
If you wish to run Borland C++ for DOS under OS/2, you need to set the
DOS settings for that session for DPMI_DOS_API. This setting must be
DPMI_DOS_API set to ENABLE in order for C++ to function.
- After Dark for Windows
After Dark, the Windows screen saver program, places a TSR (terminate and
stay-resident) program into your AUTOEXEC.BAT file when it install itself.
If you wush to run After Dark in seamless mode (a Windows window on the
OS/2 desktop) then you must remove the reference to After Dark in your
- IBM PC LAN Support Program
If you use the IBM PC LAN Support Program using the DOS device drivers
in an MVDM session, it may be necessary to reset the token ring adapter
card. That is, if you open the VDM, then shut it down and subsequently
wish to open another VDM with the LAN program. The file RSTTOK.ZIP can
be found in the IBMFILES section on Compuserve and on the
IBM National Support Center BBS. (For IBM internal users, it can be
found as RSTTOK PACKAGE on OS2TOOLS).
- Microsoft Word for OS/2
Microsoft Word for OS/2 has experienced problems running on OS/2 2.0.
Microsoft is able to provide a fix for this. If you are a registered user
of Word for OS/2, you may call Microsoft Support and request this fix.
- Lotus Freelance Graphics for OS/2
If you are a user of Lotus Freelance Graphics for OS/2, you may experience
problems installing the software. This has to do with how Freelance
checks for OS/2 version levels. A fix is available from Lotus. You may
also download FLGOS2.ZIP from the IBM BBS or Compuserve (in the IBMFILES
section) or INSTAL.ZIP from the LOTUS section of Compuserve.
- IBM 4029 Postscript driver for WIN-OS2
If you are installing the IBM4029 WINDOWS Postscript driver for use in
Win-OS/2, use the following steps. Doing it in any other way may create
an invalid entry in your WIN.INI file.
Click on the Control Panel icon
Click on the Printers icon
Click on the button "Add Printer"
Select from the list of printers "Unlisted Printer" (bottom of list)
Insert the printer drivers diskette 4
In the Files and Directories dialog click on "A:"
Choose PSCRIPT.DRV from files list (PScript driver is being installed)
Click on button "Configure"
Select proper port
Click button "Setup"
Select from list of printers "IBM4029 (17 font, 600 dpi)
Click on "OK" 3 times.
Exit the Control Panel
Exit WIN-OS/2, saving changes
Section 3 - Hardware tips
- Alternate pointing devices
There is an undocumented function in the mouse device driver. If you
have some alternate pointing device such as a tablet or touch screen,
you may use it in addition to the the regular mouse pointing device.
1) Install the device driver for the device with the appropriate
DEVICE= statement in CONFIG.SYS (this must be an OS/2 device driver)
2) Add the following to the end of the DEVICE=C:\OS2\MOUSE.SYS line:
Where the xxxxx$ is the name of the device (from the device driver's
3) Upone reboot, both pointing devices will be active.
- AOX systems
If your computer has an AOX add-in processor card and you encounter
problems either installing or booting your OS2 system, you should call
AOX support and ask for the latest "flash-prom" code upgrade.
- ISA (non Microchannel or non-EISA) bus systems
Some customers with AT-bus(ISA) systems may have disk controllers
that are not recognized or supported by 2.0. OEM drivers for
their disk controller may not yet be available.
SYMPTOMS: Very slow install
Very noisy hard disk during install
Disk not recognized
1) Use DOS to edit the CONFIG.SYS on Diskette #1 in the 2.0 package.
Diskette #1 is the first diskette AFTER the Install diskette.
Change the line -
2) Boot the Install diskette and proceed with Install through the
first five diskettes.
3) After diskettes 1 through 5 are processed, you are asked to
reinsert the Install diskette.
After copying some files from the Install diskette, you are
asked to remove the Install diskette and press Enter to reboot.
DO NOT DO THIS. LEAVE THE INSTALL DISKETTE IN THE DRIVE.
4) Press Enter with the Install diskette in the drive.
This will boot the Install diskette.
You will be asked to insert Diskette #1.
Watch the screens carefully. You will see a
screen that tells you (on the lower left) to press ESC to exit.
When you see this, press Esc.
5) You are now at a command line.
Enter the following commands:
RENAME C:\OS2\IBM1S506.ADD IBM1S506.XXX
COPY C:\OS2\IBMINT13.I13 C:\OS2\IBM1S506.ADD
Note: If C is not your install drive, adjust the commands
6) Remove the diskette from the drive.
Press ALT-CTRL-DEL to reboot the system, and install will
pick up where it left off.
- IBM PS/2 Model 90/95 systems
For model 90 systems, you should ensure that your system has
engineering change (EC) level ECA-053 and/or ECA-084. ECA-053 is needed
to address a downlevel processor card which could cause memory parity
errors. The ECA-084 is to address a memory riser-card problem that could
cause memory errors. Your IBM hardware service representative
can assist you with this.
If your processor card has part number 84F9356 then it should be replaced.
If your memory "riser" card is part number 84F8157, then it should
be replaced. (ECA-084)
For both model 90 and 95 machines, you must ensure that you have matched
pairs of memory SIMMs. This means that each pair of SIMMs, as described
in your technical reference manual, must be matched as to memory size
and speed. Mixing SIMMS can cause some machines to report memory errors.
When instaling auxiliary parallel port expansion cards, you need to
ensure that they are configured to share interrupt level 7 (IRQ7).
Not doing so will cause printing under OS/2 to function erratically.
If you send a print job to a printer that is powered off, you may
experience a corrupted job when responding to the RETRY dialog after
powering on the printer. You should cancel the job and resubmit it
after turning on the printer.
There are some printers, when attached to an IBM Model 95 can lose
interrupts if DMA Parallel is turned on. By turning off DMA parallel
with the reference disk, you can clear this up. This can vary from
system to system and printer to printer.
- SCSI cards
The early versions of the IBM 16-bit SCSI adapters may experience
problems and report erroneously that the device is not functioning.
This can be corrected by replacing the SCSI card with a card with
There have been some intermittent problems using 50 mHz systems with
AT-style bus machines with a mouse. The mouse can get out of synch.
Input will function through the keyboard and the mouse, but it is
recommended to shutdown the system and restart to "resynch" the mouse.
Thanks to the following contributors:
Irv Spalten IBM Corp.
Dave Blaschke IBM Corp.
John Hare and Jeff Muir IBM Corp.
Mel Hallerman IBM Corp.
Anyone else who I may have forgotten.
IBM DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT
LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF FITNESS AND MERCHANTABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THE
INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. BY FURNISHING THIS DOCUMENT, IBM GRANTS NO
LICENSES TO ANY RELATED PATENTS OR COPYRIGHTS. Copyright IBM Corporation, 1992.
All rights reserved.