Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

February 1998


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Program Commander/2

By Peter Lazenby, (

Warp 4 brought with it a nifty little application called the WarpCentre (or WarpCenter if you prefer). Unfortunately from the beginning, WarpCentre here proved to be the cause of much system instability. Its removal cured nearly all the problems that ailed me, but left me without a tool to launch my commonly used apps. Launchpad (or Toolbar as it's now called) takes up too much screen real estate to be truly useful.

Enter Program Commander/2, an excellent little freeware/donationware utility that fills this void while offering numerous other enhancements to the OS/2 desktop, or if memory is a problem, replacing it entirely. PC/2 can supply virtual desktops, desktop popup menus, scheduled program launching, hot key app launching, and a great deal more all at the whims of the user.


Installation is extremely fool-proof, but does require a reboot. The author has provided a REXX installation script to guide you through the steps painlessly. Nothing is set in stone at installation time though... you can alter your choices at any time after rebooting, and these alterations do not require a reboot. The installation process allows the user to install only the files required to run PC/2, or the optional tutorials, or both. I chose to install only the required files, leaving a footprint of about 817k on my applications drive. The tutorial is a .zip file within the PC/2 archive, and can be extracted at any time after the program has been installed.

Once the first step of the installation has completed, the help system of PC/2 launches allowing you to browse the contents while the installer still runs waiting for the final steps to complete the process. Take the time to browse the contents and familiarize yourself with the potential of this powerful application, then finish the install and reboot.

Two icons will be installed to your desktop assuming you have chosen both the program object and the application migration utility.

Initial impressions:

Everything about PC/2 is configurable allowing full control of nearly every aspect of the program's workings. The desktop configuration notebook abounds with selections, enough to more than satisfy every user's tastes.

Desktop configuration

Each notebook page comes with a well written help system allowing you to discover what all the options entail before committing to anything. Or you could be adventurous; just have some fun and experiment. Be prepared for some pleasant surprises.


All in all, my favourite feature of PC/2 is the customizable desktop popup menus. Two versions are available, the text only version

Plain Menu

or the iconified version

Icon Menu

The iconified version shown is using small icons, but large icons can be selected from the desktop configuration notebook.

Adding an item to the popup menu is a snap. Drag and drop support is provided in the "Add Program" dialogue accessed from the "Config Menu" option provided in the popup.

Adding Programs

Just drag program objects or folders to the area immediately below the "DOS settings are..." statement, and the "Executable" and "Workdirectory" fields will be appropriately filled. In most cases, all that remains is to enter the program title as you would like it displayed on the selection menu. Close the window, and save your changes. The "Add Program" option also supports file browsing via the "Find Application" button, and a third method involves the WPS 2 PC2 object placed on the desktop at installation. Any installed wps object may be dragged to the WPS 2 PC2 object for later incorporation into the popup menus. All items included in this container

WPS 2 PC/2

can be added immediately to the popup menu by dragging the stuffed briefcase shown to the right under "Status" over the "Config Menu" settings window. Once the briefcase has been dropped, this picture will change to a slimmed down briefcase indicating that the items have been added, and the container may be cleared.

A taskbar has also been thoughtfully supplied, called "SessionBar" and enabled on page 2 of the Desktop tab of the Desktop configuration notebook.

Session Bar

The SessionBar can be moved vertically to any desktop location, and will size itself to fit the horizontal settings of your monitor. The leftmost button contains the user defined desktop popup menus described in the preceding paragraph in a win95 "Start" button fashion.

If you require virtual desktops, PC/2 can provide up to 81... more than anybody could possibly require. I commonly use 3 as shown here, with the title bar and smart icons hidden.


Here is the same overview window with the title bar and smart icons enabled.


Hiding these increases the virtual desktop space, but you are not able to manipulate PM windows on the overview window. You can, however, drag applications from one desktop to another using the virtual desktop overview window. Depending on the footprint of the overview window, the application's title appears in it's represented space on the virtual desktop, making the "I get lost in virtual desktops" argument a thing of the past.

These are only a few of the options available. I highly recommend reading the guides and online help system to discover what other great features are available.


There are not many items that I found troublesome with PC/2. Occasionally, switching virtual desktops may be slower than expected. On several occasions, I found that the desktops didn't switch at all, requiring a second attempt. I presume this is probably due to demands of other applications currently running.

I configured PC/2 at installation to use the 3rd mouse button to access the desktop popup menus. Wanting to switch to the left mouse button, I changed the option in the configuration notebook, however when PC/2 is closed and reopened, my selection is switched back to the original entry. This glitch does not get resolved with a shutdown and reboot.

Lastly, I find the iconified version of the desktop popup menu to be slower than I would like had I decided to use the icons. There is a method to increase painting speed, but since I prefer the text-only menu, I didn't explore this further to see if the end justified the means.

In Conclusion:

Program Commander/2 has become an indispensable part of my OS/2 desktop. Its enormous flexibility and control lets you use any part of the application you desire. The author, Roman Stangl ( is very responsive, and has proven to be prompt in replying to email queries.

I recommend that all OS/2 users download PC/2, and give it a trial run... some of its abilities may surprise you. PC/2 is a rare gem indeed.

Program Commander/2 is available from the author's web site -


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