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January 2001

The Free Files - Vol. 4

Copying and Archiving, Part 2 (SOHO, Part 2)

Von: Klaus Staedtler von Przyborski © January 2001, Translation: Christian Hennecke

EMBELLISH: Website no longer available
PHOTO>GRAPHICS: ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/graphics/imagepro/tspg202s.zip
TAME/2:  http://redrival.com/os2util/index.htm
MRFILEPM:   http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/util/browser/mrfil54d.zip
FILEFREEDOM:  http://www.kw.igs.net/~brhenry/
CONNECT/2:  http://os2.ru/projects/connect/index.phtml.en
LPTOOL :  http://www.fsys.demon.nl/lptool/lptool.zip
FC/2: http://silk.apana.org.au/fc2.html
IMPOS/2: http://www.compart.net/

Before I continue where I left off last time let me add something to the last article (I hope that this won't become a habit):

Readers of "The Free Files Vol.3" have informed me that PMView is not the only OS/2 application able to read the formats PPM, PBM and PNM. Embellish by Dadaware does as well. I investigated a bit further and Photo>Graphics by Truespectra is capable of these formats, too. Both graphics packages are available for free. Unfortunately, one has to add, there will be no further development of these applications and the makers only released the software for free when they stopped selling them. Sounds like there weren't enough users.

I frankly admit that both programs are not for me. I rather use one of the last remaining commercial graphics processing packages Impos/2 V 2.1. Regarding this there is some good news. Recently the scanner drivers have been updated and added support for a few newer scanners as well. Compart, the developer, would - with a portion of idealism - consider developing a new version. The prerequisite is that enough users are found who are willing to pay for. Arnim Gröger, Sales and Marketing Director of Compart, brought up the number of a thousand customers. This should be doable, or has the number of OS/2 users shrunk so far that this isn't possible? Compart unnecessarily puts some obstacles in the way of English speaking people, since the Impos/2 homepage is only available in German, though Impos/2 itself has always been available in English.

Ok, this doesn't really belong in "The Free Files" ... but I had to comment on it.

TAME/2 0.9.0 that I announced in "The Free Files Vol.3" is now available. Since I am one of those responsible I'm rather leaving the rating to others. So there's only a new screenshot and the following plea to all owners of scanners that can be operated with SANE: If your scanner is not included in TAME/2's database, please send the necessary information to us. Other users will be very thankful for this. We are already working on version 0.9.2. Then scanners that require the microtek2 backend should be usable, too.

Fig.1: TAME/2 0.9.2 controls

So much for "copying". Remember that the original topic was "Copying and Archiving"?

Well, the archiving of electonic documents (regardless of their content) differs a bit from that of physical ones. No dusted heaps of files, no small carriages used for transport (even though a certain operating system tries to make us believe that there is something like a physical existance), shredders etc.

At the same time this creates some problems. First of all you need a suitable filesystem. Fortunately OS/2 is equipped with one: HPFS. No enigmatic 8.3 short names to uniquely identify a document and increase the probability of finding it again. Thanks to the WPS and its capabilities we are save from the well-known and widespread necessity of filename extensions, though this isn't used consequently in most applications, unfortunately.

Second, and this is where we are finally on topic, one needs at least one package to maintain files, i.e. for copying, moving, deleting, searching, comparing etc.

To this day I haven't understood why no operating system known to me (by this I mean OS/2, MacOS, Windows in all its incarnations, DOS, Unix, Linux) comes with decent file maintanance support. Of course you can do all the necessary operations with all those conquerers, explorers, finders and workplace shells, but it works better with a navigator or commander that has to be installed seperately.

The choice of the "correct" filemanager has become almost a question of religion. Fortunately there are also enough for OS/2, both for the Presentation Manager and the commandline, so everyone should be able to find a suitable one.

From those available as freeware I like the following best:

Mr. FilePM is an IBM EWS application and has been made Y2K compliant in the new "millennium". It's fully drag & drop enabled. Otherwise Mr. File PM has been kept simple, but then it's also simple to use.

Fig.2: Mr. File PM main window

Filefreedom by Bruce Henry has also been released as freeware in October last year (again this means that there will be no further development if nobody takes over the equally free sources). One of Filefreedom's advantages is that it is capable of handling compressed ZIP files.

Fig.3: File Freedom main window

Though usually I definitely prefer PM applications, I am especially fond of file managers that work in VIO mode. Why? That's easy: They are faster most of the time and can also be used when you have to boot from floppies or switch to a commandline via ALT-F1 to do some maintenance. Naturally this is also because of my computer experiences: If you grew up at your computer with DOS and the Norton Commander, you are aquainted with its look and you can repeat its Fx keyboard commands in your sleep. In addition you can find a pendant on almost every operating system and feel almost like home even in unknown waters.

If you think of crossplatform applications, you might expect a description of the Midnight Commander to follow. Alas, I can't provide you with one, since it doesn't work for me on OS/2 (it does on Linux). But I admit that I didn't try very hard. On the other hand such a file manager should work without configuration and patch orgies. It's a pity, but since development of the Midnight Commander has been stopped anyway (the author has turned to other tasks like Gnome and OpenOffice), I don't expect anything to happen here.

What seems much more interesting to me is CONNECT/2 by Alexander Trunov. CONNECT/2 is currently in beta, but it's already running very stable and offers a wealth of features. Especially developers are going to like the new colorization plug-in for the editor.

Fig.4: CONNECT/2 file manager window

CONNECT/2 has nearly managed to exceed my favourite for many years FC/2. The most important thing that's bothering me is that some parts, e.g. the help file, are available in Russian only. Could someone please help Alexander Trunov with an English translation?

I'm afraid I have to diagnose a problem for all file managers. Even the great-grandfather Norton Commander was capable of establishing a connection between two machines via a so-called Laplink cable. I am still missing this feature. You may wonder who needs something like that in the age of networks? Well, I have a Thinkpad 560 without CD-ROM drive, for instance, and it was most convenient to be able to transfer the complete OS/2 CD to the machine via the parallel port, with the Smartsuite immediately following. This feature-lack could be eliminated instantly, as there is Jan van Wijk's package Lptool that provides the missing functionality. Embedding it should require no special programming skills and "all would be honoured" (as Bethold Brecht wanted his tombstone to say): Jan van Wijk could have avoided programming a VIO window showing "here" and "there" and file managers would have got an important feature without much work.

What's left: Well, if you read these lines the new millennium has started - even for the picky. So I hope that you had a merry Christmas and a nice start into the new year. I am anxiously awaiting the 31st of January - damned that it has to be my birthday. We'll see what IBM has in store to get rid of us end users. Anyway: I wish you a happy new year.

Klaus Staedtler von Przyborski is an OS/2 user and involved in several projects, mainly with Goran Ivancovics.

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