With operating systems becoming ever more complex, it pays to track down the great support, software, and references available on the Web. Most sites cater to specific operating systems, usually providing a combination of their own resources and links to other pages. Operating system developer sites often give you access to updates, bug fixes, and technical documentation. Some even offer downloadable beta versions of upcoming products. UNIX users: UNIX sites will be added to this page in a future update.
Operating System Pointers. Web lists that point to operating system or platform sites.
DOS. For Microsoft's MS-DOS, IBM's PC-DOS, and related operating systems.
The Macintosh System. Resources for users of Apple's Macintosh computers.
Magic Cap. Sites that support General Magic's Magic Cap PDA operating system.
NeXTStep. Web sites devoted to NeXT's object-oriented operating system.
OS/2. Destinations that focus on versions of IBM's operating system, including Warp.
Taligent. You can't buy it yet, but you can already find support for it.
Windows. Support for the world's most popular graphical environment.
Windows NT. Technical resources for Microsoft's high-end operating system.
Amiga. Although the Amiga is no more, support lives on via the Internet.
The Virtual Shareware Catalog,
This Web destination contains a searchable database of all of the shareware around the world stored at 15 managed depositories including SIMTEL, CICA, and the Hobbes OS/2 Archive. The opening page explains how to obtain shareware over the Internet. You can use the site's Shareware Search Engine (SHASE) to locate utilities and shareware to enhance all major operating systems. SHASE lets you search by file description, file name, file creation date, and other criteria recorded at managed archive sites. By all means, if you're interested in operating systems and system-enhancement utilities to improve them, this is a stop you've just got to make.
Pros: Well managed and edited · Highly up to date · Comprehensive · Good search engine
Cons: Traffic slows performance · Covers managed sites only
Midnet Home Page, Midnet
Midnet, a major provider of Internet services, maintains an archive of all of the postings on the Usenet newsgroup comp.os.msdos.announce. This newsgroup is a solid repository of product announcements, FAQs, and other information for MS-DOS users. The site also features an excellent way to search for shareware and public-domain software announced by their respective developers in this newsgroup. And you can link to other MS-DOS resources such as the Query Interface to the PC Harvest Broker. Midnet operates this archive as a public service to advertise their other services, but the rewards to DOS users far overshadow the minor annoyance of the marketing pitch.
Pros: Well run Web site · Very informative · Good info on the SIMTEL archive · Great way to find DOS shareware
Cons: Visually uninteresting · Table of contents could use better descriptions
Query Interface to the PC
Harvest Broker, Univ. of Colorado Computer Science Dept.
The Computer Science Department at the University of Colorado runs the Harvest program, which attempts to index and catalog information throughout the Internet. One index lets you scan the descriptions of over 30,000 freeware programs for the PC. The Harvest query software allows searches by various fields as well as keywords, so it is possible to restrict the date or location of the software you want to get. This is a first rate source of information about shareware and freeware on the Web.
Pros: Good search software · Good source of shareware · Many examples of permissible search queries
Cons: Indexes only six major archives · Documentation for forms-based search is obtuse · Documentation is poorly written overall
Apple Support and Information Web,
The site contains data of interest to new Macintosh users as well as deeper information about System 7.x for old hands. A very nice search service provides access to information on the latest Macintosh software, bug releases, and troubleshooting advice. You can search the Technical Information Library by keywords. One page offers a list of the top 100 briefs requested from Apple's Technical Information Library. Whether you're a developer or an end user, check Apple's site first for answers to your System 6.x through 7.x questions.
Pros: Visually appealing · Well written and researched articles · Access to same database Apple tech support uses · Updated daily
Cons: Front page could be more accessible to text-only browsers · Might take several search attempts to find the information you're after
Nick's Place, Nick De Mello
De Mello calls himself a "molecular sculptor and binary poet." He's also something of a Macintosh programmer because his page includes plenty of information on System 7.x. He offers his own opinions of many different products as well as a collection of pointers to other sources. The links available at Nick's Place beam you to some of the better Mac developer-oriented sites providing such goodies as code editors, Mac programming literature, and details on the Mac ROMs.
Pros: Links to detailed Mac operating system data · Opinionated and fun · Good Mac developer resource
Cons: Relatively short list of links · Some hot links are missing · Links could use more description
Macintosh Documentation, Apple Developer Technical Services
This site delivers major parts of the Inside Macintosh documentation directly from the horse's mouth. You can use this information to understand the Mac Toolbox API and other key components of the Mac operating system. The material is rather technical and dense, however, and so probably isn't for casual browsing. But it's first rate stuff for Mac software developers.
Pros: Essential Mac technical documentation · Fast access · Authoritative
Cons: FTP format, not HTML · Only 75 anonymous callers allowed simultaneously · Cryptic directories
Tidbits Home Page, Tidbits
You can find the back issues of Tidbits, an electronic journal of all things Macintosh, in the directory /pub/tidbits/issues. Because the publisher distributes the journal electronically, it tends to be fairly current. The issues contain many reviews and notices about new products that extend the operating system. There are also many assorted copies of Internet based software products like Fetch. If you're a serious Mac user, this is definitely a regular pit-stop on the Web.
Pros: A deep, historical collection of reference materials · Downloadable software · New product reviews
Cons: FTP format, not HTML · Cryptic directories · Difficult to navigate
Robert Lentz makes it his job to provide accurate information on the direction of Mac operating system development to anyone who wants to read it on the Web. The site has good pointers to information on OpenDOC, and it offers insights into the developments that will shape the future of the Macintosh. Lentz also collects Macintosh humor, which includes plans to extend System 7.x to include a caffeine manager. Although much of the material accessible here has nothing to do with operating systems, Lentz's efforts have made this site one of the primary clearinghouses of Internet-based Mac resources. Don't pass it up.
Pros: Insight on the future of the Mac operating system · Pointers to valuable references · Delivered with a sense of humor
Cons: Opening table of contents could use more description · Not well organized
Lewis's Home Page, Peter Lewis
Peter Lewis shares his knowledge on hacking MacTCP with the world. Lewis gathered some fame on the Internet by writing Anarchie, an Archie client for the Macintosh that you can download from this site. He freely distributes his software, and many consider it a great way to understand how to integrate TCP/IP applications with System 7.x. If for no other reason, that one alone makes Lewis' home page another highly intriguing Macintosh destination.
Pros: Good source of TCP/IP data · Link to Anarchie download
Cons: Some links don't allow anonymous FTP access · Limited number of links
General Magic's Home Page, General Magic
General Magic's very sparse home page provides some information about mailing lists for Magic Cap users and developers. These mailing lists provide a forum in which to discuss the fine points of using or writing software for this communications-based PDA operating system. Telescript, General Magic's agent-based communications software, is only mentioned in passing. There is hope, however, because the list of job openings contains a listing for technical writers. This site is very much under construction, so General Magic users will certainly want to keep an eye on it.
Pros: Concise · Job listings at General Magic · It's the only dedicated Magic Cap site
Cons: Not much content · Under construction · No direct General Magic tech support
NeXT Computer's Home Page, NeXT Computer,
Come here for a good collection of press releases, product descriptions, and bug reports. The main page details NeXT's products and its strategy for concentrating on corporate customers. You can search the technical documentation by keyword, or scroll indexes arranged by topic or post date. Pointers to the unofficial home pages of NeXT employees lead you to neat places to hang out in San Francisco and Cyberia. This is an essential stop if you're considering a move to the NeXTStep operating system, or if you have a technical question concerning this object-oriented operating system.
Pros: Dense NeXT corporate info · Solid technical library · Pointers to fun sites on the Web
Cons: Graphically uninspired · Limited links to other NeXTStep sites
Project Home Page, GNU
Do you think software should be free? The GNU OpenStep project aims to create a free version of the NeXTStep API. The software available here comes with the GNU license that encourages free use and distribution. The site contains a long and well-written HTML-encoded description of the process and specifications. If you're interested in learning about or using object-oriented environments, the OpenStep code is worth the visit to this site, and the time of the download.
Pros: Nice, hierarchical arrangement · Information in many formats · Free version of NeXTStep API
Cons: No illustrations · OpenStep FAQ is beta and not fact-checked · Could use a better overview
The OS/2 WWW
Home Page, The MIT OS/2 Group
The MIT OS/2 group has cataloged the URLs of other OS/2 user groups and OS/2 software repositories. The knowledge collected at this site is perfect for the serious OS/2 user who is quite happy to explore the possibilities of IBM's operating system. Many of the pages are simply sparse listings of URLs, but the lists are usually comprehensive. User group sites are organized by region. Some of the pointers lead to deeper waters. There's no question about it: All serious OS/2 users should have a bookmark saved for this site.
Pros: Comprehensive list resource · Good way to find local OS/2 user groups · Gateways to OS/2 software archives
Cons: Pointers need better descriptions · Links could use more frequent checking
IBM's OS/2 Software Repository,
IBM's software repository contains beta releases of OS/2 software, bug fixes, and other interesting IBM generated material. It's the place to go to get official announcements and updates as well as beta software that you might want to try. It's a very technical experience -- for serious OS/2 users. But, in that, it excels.
Pros: Deeper, more experimental software · Highly technical · Downloads of beta software · Bug fixes · Product announcements
Cons: Just FTP · Not for novices · Busy, sometimes difficult to connect
The Hobbes FTP Collection,
New Mexico State University
Just the index to Hobbes FTP collection of OS/2 software at New Mexico State University is over 200,000 kilobytes. This is the premier collection of OS/2 software on the Web. Many gateway sites link to Hobbes. Bottom line: look here first for downloadable OS/2 software on the Net. This is as close to one-stop "shopping" as it gets.
Pros: Best source of OS/2 software · Massive collection · Organized by category
Cons: FTP only · Files could be better described · Busy, sometimes difficult to access
IBM Personal Software Division
Home Page, IBM Personal Software Division
The home page of IBM's Personal Software division contains plenty of sales information on IBM's major personal software, including documents like "OS/2 Warp vs. Windows 95: A Decision Maker's Guide." Most OS/2 users will want to check in just to access the site's device driver repository. The best part, though, are the AVI files containing IBM's TV ads with titles like "French Guys," "Nuns New," and "Moroccan Guys." On the more practical side, you can link to a technical support area where you can browse key documents or send email to IBM. A demo version of Warp is downloadable from the site too. It's the destination for OS/2 and Warp.
Pros: IBM quality · Fun stuff · Link to technical support area · Download Warp demo
Cons: No keyword search · Lots of marketing pitches · Multiple levels complicate navigation
Taligent Home Page, Taligent
This is the site of the company that is developing the completely object-oriented operating system with the hope that it will be the true next step for computerdom. When we visited last, more solid food was beginning to appear for both would-be users and developers, including an announcement of cpConstructor, an interface builder for the operating system. You'll also find several clearly written white papers that explain the Taligent technology and the philosophy behind the company's plans. If you are curious about this upcoming operating system, drop in for a thorough briefing. Anyone who considers himself or herself an operating system expert is kidding themselves until they clued in on this intriguing test-tube project.
Pros: Early Taligent info · Technology white papers · Job listings
Cons: Lack of technical depth · No links to other resources · No downloadable software
Shareware Archive, California State University at San Marcos
California State University at San Marcos offers a nice collection of shareware programs for Windows including Aporia, an Object-Oriented front end for the operating system. There are numerous programs available at this site for fiddling with the guts of Windows. Visual Basic programmers will find useful software and VBX files, too. The descriptions could be longer, but that might be understandable because some directories are so full it might slow things down too much. If you're into code, and the idea of remaking Windows, here are your marching orders.
Pros: Good HTML-encoded Windows software collection · Visual Basic resource · Well managed
Cons: Descriptions could be longer · Large graphics slow display time · Directories ordered alphabetically, not by category
for Windows Developers, Robert Mashlan
Robert Mashlan has compiled a collection of resources for the Windows developer. A concise and well-edited summary explains each of the links to many of the major Net resources. He includes pointers to the home pages of the major compiler companies such as Symantec or Microsoft. And there are pointers to FAQs, important USENET groups, and sites of developer magazines. Another great place to start.
Pros: Pointers to vendor sites, FAQs, Usenet groups, and more · Well organized · Clear summaries
Cons: Few illustrations · Still under construction
Microsoft's Home Page, Microsoft
The Web site for the big banana. Microsoft's home page is a well-designed corporate information center that maintains plenty of information on all parts of the Microsoft empire. The Windows news is current and, of course, up-beat. The knowledge base for developers lets you search for technical data via keywords, and it contains a large collection of bug fixes, software, literature, and raw specifications. This is an excellent site for Windows users and developers.
Pros: Complete Windows source · Efficiently presented · Well managed
Cons: Busy, can be difficult to access · Potential for information overload · Could use a sense of humor
Windows NT Internet FAQ, Steve
Scoggins and Thomas Baltis
This HTML version of a Windows NT FAQ has many of the answers to getting your NT system attached to a larger network. In addition, a large number of pointers beam you to different code locations throughout the Net. It's a great place to visit, especially if you're trying to glue your NT machine to the Internet or another network.
Pros: Well-written and presented · Good information on connecting NT to the Net
Cons: Slow performance · Could use a hierarchical setup · Can be difficult to navigate
Amiga News, Michael J. Witbrock
The Amiga computer still has a rather large fan club. This long list of Web resources for Amiga owners includes pointers to technical data as well as a number of wonderful (and bandwidth consuming) Amiga-produced images that have won prizes throughout the world. The rumors page is well written and quite current. It's destination Nirvana for true Amiga enthusiasts.
Pros: Very thorough · Labor of love · Place to go for latest post-mortem Amiga news
Cons: Smaller thumbnail pictures would save time · Limited audience