WPTools Revised for Warp 4 - by Larry Ayers

After installing Warp 4 I quickly discovered that two of my most-used utilities no longer worked. The IBM EWS memory-usage display utility Os20Memu, still needs updating, but the other one, WPTools, has recently been revised and is available on popular FTP archive sites.

WPTools is a collection of Workplace Shell utilities, including Desktop backup and restore (which I've never used; I'm happy with Robosave, another IBM EWS free utility) and a utility, CheckINI, which cleans superfluous entries from the OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI files. If you have bought the commercial product, UniMaint, this article will be of little interest to you, but if you balk at having to buy an expensive piece of software in order to perform essential system management, read on.

CheckINI is a command line tool which displays its copious output in an OS/2 window, as well as logging it to a file. When run without switches it parses your INI files and tells you what it would do if given the chance. If run with the /C switch, it will edit the files interactively, asking permission for each useless entry it would like to expunge. The entries in question are mostly references to every program, file, and desktop object you've deleted since installing OS/2! As you can imagine, these do accumulate. My experience is that these useless entries in the two INI files slow the system down and make it feel sluggish.

After using Warp 4 for several weeks it seemed that my system was slower than it was just after installation, but this is hard to judge. I tried running the copy of CheckINI from WPTools v18, but it died after numerous errors. Evidently the internal format of INI files has changed with the release of Warp 4.

When I saw that Hank Kelder had released a new WPTools to the Hobbes and Walnut Creek's FTP sites, I lost no time downloading and running the new CheckINI. CheckINI worked for nearly an hour, reminding me of all the programs (many from the Warp 4 Application Sampler CD) which I had installed and deleted. The result was a substantial reduction in size of OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI and a noticeably snappier system. I'm running OS/2 on a 486, so any improvement is welcome!

Reducing the size of OS/2's INI files reduced my boot-up time, as the files are loaded into memory when OS/2 starts, and are periodically read back into memory in order to keep up to date with file and WPS changes. I've noticed that spurious INI file entries seem to particularly affect programs with hooks into the Workplace Shell, such as Object Desktop.

If you've ever been confronted with inexplicable WPS behaviour or error messages, the problem is likely rooted in these OS2*.INI files; it stands to reason that if these files accurately mirror the real state of affairs in your system, programs which rely on the information they contain will run more smoothly.

An alternative to using a utility such as CheckINI is to revert to a previously backed up version of a Desktop when problems occur. I try to avoid doing this, as inevitably there are new program objects and other WPS features which will be lost and have to be recreated. The virtue of CheckINI is that it is only looking for spurious data and leaves everything else alone.

(A caveat: after CheckINI has sifted through your INI files and rewritten a new, slimmer version to disk it is advisable to reboot immediately. If you don't, the changes may not "stick".)

I strongly encourage OS/2 users to try out CheckINI. I've used it regularly for about a year and a half, and never had the utility cause damage to the binary-format OS2*.INI files. I've found that running it about once every couple of weeks keeps my INI files in good shape, but I'm a software junky; if you don't make that many changes to your system it could be run much less frequently.

If you have a relatively stable Desktop; i.e., you don't add and remove objects and icons very often, this utility might not be absolutely essential. But if you try out new shareware frequently and in general your system is in a state of constant flux I think you will be surprised at what a difference running CheckINI can make. Try it and see!


 * WPTools v1.9
by Henk Kelder
download from Hobbes (ZIP, 238k)
Registration: Freeware
Larry Ayers lives on a small farm in Northeast Missouri, where he operates a portable bandsaw mill and does general woodworking. He has been running OS/2 since the release of Warp 3.

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