Larsen Commander: A Preview

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 08/04/99

Let me say right off that I'm not a fan of file managers: I've found that the Workplace Shell together with ObjectDesktop from Stardock Systems, give me all the features I need. But OD has a fairly hefty price tag and many people dislike the WPS: others have just not discovered its power.

When I saw the description of Larsen Commander my curiosity was piqued enough to download it; still I really expected just another file manager. Since it's based on Norton Commander in some ways it is; but there's something about the slick way the functions have been implemented and the attractiveness of the GUI that make the Larsen Commander stand out from the others. In this article, I want to highlight some of the main features of this product.

  1. Installation

    1. As yet at least there is no special installation procedure: you unzip the .zip file into the directory you wish to run it from, and then right-click on lcmd.exe to display the menu and then left-click on Create Program Object (Create Another if you're using Warp 3) to display the Create Another menu. Enter the desired name, and double-left-click on the desired target folder to create the object.

    2. Perhaps when the shareware version is released, a simple install program will be included.

  2. GUI Commands

    1. Speed

      The product offers very quick response on my AMD-2-333 processor, 128 MB machine. Even Netscape was launched without undue delay.

    2. Practically everything can be done using the point and click method.

      1. WPS Compatibility

        • I really liked this feature. Over the years I've spent a considerable amount of effort tailoring the various file associations. LC didn't ignore these: it rewarded me by launching the same applications (PMView, Netscape, Enhanced Editor, etc.) that would have be launched if I were using the plain WPS.

      2. Copying files, directories is a very simple drag and drop from the source window to the target window.

      3. Right-clicking on any item in a window displays a list of subcommands such as View, Create Object, and Rename.

        1. The "View" is "smart" in that it launches the correct application depending upon the file association and/or the extension.

        2. There is also a "File Detail" which displays a box containing complete directory information for the selected item.

      4. Filter functions are available by clicking on the popup menu and entering the desired filter.

    3. Accelerator keystrokes are readily available.

      • With so many applications, you have to search for these shortcut keystrokes, if they even exist. In the Larsen Commander they are displayed everywhere as an alternate method of command input. This is a real convenience.

    4. Command Window can be built-in

      1. When you first install LC, it displays with a black window above the command line. This isn't apparently used for anything, so I pulled the top window down over top of it.

      2. However, if you click the "Vertical Alignment" tool, an OS/2 command window appears there, and the results of any commands you enter in the command window are shown here. Very handy.

    5. Options, Options, Options.

      Never let it be said that Larsen Commander lacks configurability!

      1. Commonly used folder

        • Commonly used directories can be stored in a special folder for easy access.

      2. Selected Features

        • Clicking on Options on the Main Menu gives a list of GUI features that can be selected or deselected. For example the Command Line or Toolbar can be turned off completely.

      3. Options

        • Selecting Options again displays yet another set of parameters incl., fonts, colours, and program names that can be tailored.

          1. The most notable feature here is the ability to deselect any of the built-in (Norton) and shell commands you don't wish to use. By default all commands are available.

          2. Other features permit direct interaction with the environment variables found in your config.sys file.

      4. Jump To

        • Clicking on Jump to from the first Options menu displays a menu similar to the previous one, but adds an "External Programs" tab, which allows you to specify which programs Larsen Commander should launch in each circumstance.

  3. Deficiencies

    A short list of known problems are included with the documentation; I won't mention any of them here.

    1. Multiple, irritating errors in English.

      • I found the number of errors large enough that they detracted from the quality of an otherwise fine product.

    2. The "Colors" pages in the Options notebooks was completely blank.

    3. Many of the "Help" buttons were non-responsive.

    4. I could not get the "Tree" view to work.

If you use a file manager, even occasionally, or would like to but haven't found one you like, then check out Larsen Commander. You'll be glad you did. Larsen Commander is written by Leif-Erik Larsen and at this writing is public beta.

Next time: A preview of Netscape 4.61.

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