System Commander 2000: A Review

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 07/05/00

When I first noticed that V Communications had released System Commander 2000, I hoped it would correct some of the deficiencies in System Commander Deluxe with respect to OS/2. 1 Unfortunately, I was seriously disappointed.

System Commander 2000, as the name might suggest, seems to have been released almost entirely to support Windows 2000.

OS Wizard

In my major review of System Commander Deluxe, I wrote that the automatic installer, OS Wizard, was useless for OS/2, so that the product was best used to manage an existing partition layout.

The advertising and manual was again stressing the wonders of OS Wizard, so I again put it to the test. After backing up one of my OS/2 partitions, I deleted it, and following the instructions carefully, tried to install a new OS/2 system anywhere on my two physical drives using OS Wizard. It gave me an error message saying it was unable to find any free space. (On drive 1 I have 9 GB free and on drive 2 I had about 4 GB free.) If OS Wizard was unable to move the existing partitions, why couldn't it find the 258 MB of free space? In manual partitioning mode I could have created a FAT partition in that free space. However I only use HPFS partitions for OS/2, so that I was out-of-luck there as well. Oh, and of course OS Wizard will not resize HPFS partitions either. If you are installing OS/2 on an empty, or relatively empty disk, and don't mind using a FAT partition (or converting to HPFS later), then OS Wizard would probably install your OS system. However if your disk already has several operating systems, then you will probably have to do the install manually.


Perhaps in response to my complaint in the previous review about OS Wizard only being able to install OS/2 in one place--at the end of the used space, the manual contains an explanation of how to "interface" System Commander 2000 with Boot Manager to place the new OS/2 system anywhere you like by using the "Advanced Install". However, this has the drawback of using a primary partition, which wouldn't be necessary if System Commander would do the job itself. Besides using up a primary partition, as we saw in a recent article, Boot Manager doesn't work reliably in the presence of large drives (>8.4 GB) or FAT32B partitions. This workaround presented by V Communications leads us right back into the trap we have been trying so hard to avoid!

Power Users

For those who partition their disks manually and install the OSes without help from a third-party tool, either System Commander Deluxe or 2000 makes a very good program to manage the operating systems on your systems. For a complete description of how System Commander Deluxe works, see my article entitled Boot Manager Shootout: System Manager Deluxe. Nothing has changed in System Commander 2000. Even the problems remain:

  1. Corruption of FAT32B partition menu when rebooting after running OS/2 Warp.

  2. Confusing three-layer SETUP menu.

  3. If your disk contains both a hidden and visible OS/2 logical partition, an arrangement with many useful benefits, whenever you switch the two partitions, bringing the hidden one online, and the visible one offline, you must manually reconfigure System Commander or the boot up process will terminate in a hard crash! This is another problem that would be resolved if System Commander properly managed logical partitions.2

During the course of the recent series on partitioning and boot managers, a number of you have written to me telling me what boot managers you are using or like. Some of them are shareware, and I have been impressed with the "bang for the buck" many have to offer. So next week I'll present a summary of some of the better ones. I think you'll find it interesting.

Walter Metcalf

For Further Reading:

Windows 2000 and NT Dual Boot
Instructions on installing Windows 2000 with several OSes including DOS and Windows 95. OS/2, however is not included.

Next week: Low-cost Boot Managers


1 Note: For the sake of complete disclosure, let me state here that V Communications, Inc. gave me an free copy of System Commander 2000 for review purposes. However, I have taken due care not to let this affect my evaluation.

2 As far as I know this problem has always existed in System Commander, but I have only documented it here because I have only recently started using the dual OS/2 partition mechanism to provide a quick backup of my main system, and thus only recently discovered the problem.

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