How to Install/Uninstall Programs in OS/2- by Paulo Mario Moraes

-or- A Beginners Guide to the World of Shareware

I've been using Warp for almost two years now, and I consider myself to be an experienced OS/2 user. I'm not a programmer, though; I can't even program in Basic. But I do know some things that happen under OS/2's hood.

As I give support to other Warp users back in my hometown, and try to fix their mess (and mine), one thing I often note is that inadequate installation or configuration of OS/2 programs is somewhat common among new users. That's why I'm writing this article: I know how important it is to correctly install applications on your system. If you're new to OS/2, keep reading. If you already have some (or a great amount of) experience, excuse me if this is a little elementary.

What I mean by Install

First of all, let me give you my definition of "install". It's a procedure where your system gets configured so it can "see" the program being installed, and where your program is set up to work on your system. This means that, most of the time, installation is not just a question of copying files. It's much more than that.

If you're using OS/2, chances are that you're using more shareware applications than commercial packages right now. Because these tiny little shareware (and freeware) programs don't use one standard installation process (like MS software, for example, although their installation programs aren't very straightforward either), the way you set them up may differ from one application to another.

Some applications just require you to copy the unpacked files to a local directory. Others use their own installation program to do this for you. Of course, since you don't know which type of application you're dealing with before you uncompress a ZIP file and read the documentation, you should always unpack the program in an empty temporary directory, preferably on an HPFS drive. And if the archive uses the ZIP format, use Info-Zip's Unzip utility, if you have it. Unzip can deal with long filenames and extended attributes, which is sometimes vital information to a program.

After unpacking the ZIP file's contents, read the documentation before any attempt to install the program. This should be obvious anyway, since you must agree with the shareware's (or freeware's) License Terms before using the application. The readme will usually give you some directions on how to install the product.

If the program only requires you to copy files to a new directory, copy 'em and you're ready to go. If, besides copying the files, the program also requires you to modify your CONFIG.SYS file, do this and reboot before trying to use the program.

Is there Anything Else?

Of course, updating CONFIG.SYS is not the only modification to a system's configuration a program may require. There are two other things a program may change: the OS2.INI file and the Workplace Shell Classes. If a program requires changes in one or both of these places, don't worry: the installation program will take care of modifying them for you. A reboot is not necessary if the installation process only modifies your OS2.INI file, but will be required if your WPS Classes have been updated. More importantly, if an application does modify your OS2.INI or WPS Classes, you will have to make sure they get restored or "cleaned up" when and if you decide to uninstall that application.

The OS2.INI file

OS2.INI is a system file where OS/2 keeps important information about the current setup of the system, and where certain applications also keep some or all of their settings. It's not a text file like CONFIG.SYS, and it's only accessible (readable or editable) by means of special utilities, like IniMaint and the INI Viewer included in File Manager/2.

The Workplace Shell Classes

The WPS Classes are used to define all objects on your system. For example, there is a WPFolder Class, which is associated with all folder objects in the Workplace Shell. These folder objects are considered instances of the WPFolder Class. An instance of this class is created initially by the system as a template (the Folder object found in the Templates folder). As you drag the Folder template to the desktop, you are creating another instance of this class.

Programs most likely to register (create new) WPS Classes are those that create new templates, file types, special objects on your desktop, etc. (Black Hole, for instance, has its own WPS Class, which is registered upon installation). Also, some programs actually modify existing WPS Classes. Examples of these programs are some desktop and folder enhancers (like Extended Desktop, an IBM Employee Written Software product).

Cleaning Things Up

As important as the installation program is to set up an application, the uninstall program to remove the application from your system is just as important. In many cases, the uninstall routine is called from the same program used to install the application.

The problem is, some installation/uninstallation programs which automatically copy files to another directory, actually don't put the install/uninstall program in the destination directory. Result: if you remove the archive contents from the temporary directory where you unpacked them, the uninstall program is gone.

Because of this, and although it may sound a bit awkward, it's useful to have a copy of the ZIP file containing the application backed up somewhere so you can unpack it again in a temporary directory, execute the uninstall program, let it find the application on your hard drive and prompt you to remove it.

If the application didn't come with an install/uninstall program, you will have to edit your CONFIG.SYS, removing any entries related to the application (if you remember which ones they are), shut down, reboot and then delete the files (and any program object(s) that were created). It is important to update the CONFIG.SYS file and reboot before trying to delete the application's files or directories, because OS/2 will complain when you try to delete certain files that are still in use by the system or another application. When you reboot with the updated CONFIG.SYS, (hopefully) those files will not be in use any more and can be deleted.

A manual uninstall might also require you to clean up the OS2.INI file or the WPS Classes. The procedures to do this are explained below.

Cleaning up the OS2.INI file

Using one of the tools listed earlier, take a look at your OS2.INI file. Note that each record in the file has three sections: the application name, its keywords, and its data. When you install an application (or first use it), it may put a new record in OS2.INI. If you later decide to manually remove the application from your system, you should remove the application's related entries from the OS2.INI file as well (this should be done only after you have used the application for the last time). If you're using FM/2's INI Viewer, just select the appropriate application name and choose "Delete Application" from the "Entries" menu.

But remember: OS2.INI is shared by lots of applications and by the system itself. Don't remove or edit ANY entry if you don't know its meaning or purpose.

Cleaning up the Workplace Shell Classes

If you want to remove a program which registered a WPS Class during its installation, and which didn't come with an uninstall facility (once again, Black Hole is an example of this type of program), you must manually deregister the WPS Class or Classes created. When you do this, you need to be sure that the class you're deregistering was the one created by the program; never mess with classes created by the system, or which existed before the program your are trying to uninstall was installed.

Some tools that let you deregister WPS Classes are infoPM (a set of benchmark and system analysis tools) and (HaWi's) ClassBrowser. However, because WPS Classes are a critical point in the system, try to follow this guideline: avoid installing a program (especially if you know it'll modify the WPS Classes) that doesn't come with an uninstall option. Managing WPS Classes on your own can be very tricky and dangerous, and possibly leave your system in an inoperative state.

Is Everything Clear Now?

Well, I tried to make this article as basic as possible so new Warpers like you don't get scared away from OS/2. I cannot guarantee that the procedures mentioned above will work, of course, since there are thousands of OS/2 applications out there and I don't know everything about most of them. If you have any questions, complaints, or suggestions, please e-mail me. Also, I would like to thank Eric Slaats (author of Smalled--the small, high powered, intuitive OS/2 editor) for all the support he gave me for this article.
Paulo Mario dos Santos Dias de Moraes is a Brazilian student who loves OS/2 and Electronics. This is his first article ever.

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