© Copyright Clive E. Chapman 2008. All rights reserved.

FL Tools

Version 5.00 (2008-07-25)


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Overview Licence
Operating Systems Supported What's New in 5.00
User Guides Summary of History
Downloading FL Using FL on Linux
Installing FL FL User Guide
Printing the Documentation FLCUST User Guide
Registration FLFIND User Guide
Personnel FLTREE User Guide
Further Information FLVIEW User Guide
  TEE User Guide


The FL package is a set of character-based file and directory listing tools for those who prefer using a command line rather than a GUI. The major tools in the package are FL and FLTREE:

This displays a panel containing a list of files and directories. For each file or directory you can enter a command to cause an application to operate on that file or directory. The application might be a simple operating-system command such as:

  • COPY, to copy files and directories
  • DEL, to delete files and directories
  • MOVE, to move files and directories
  • RENAME, to rename files and directories
  • XCOPY, to copy files and directory trees

or a more complex GUI-type application such as:

  • ACRORD32 (Adobe Acrobat Reader), to display PDF files
  • IEXPLORE (Windows Internet Explorer), to display HTML pages
  • NOTEPAD (Windows plain text editor), to display or edit TXT files
  • WORDPAD (Windows rich text editor), to dislay or edit RTF files
  • VLC (VideoLAN), to display video files

FL is often used to list the files in a single directory, but it can also be used to list a subset of the files in a directory, list files in several different directories, or list all of the files in a directory tree or sub-tree.

This displays a panel containing a list of directories arranged in a tree-like manner so that you can see the directory structure. As with FL, you can enter a command to operate on any directory in the list.

An example of FL panel layout 0 is shown below. The light-green area is a set of input fields (one per file or directory) into which you can type commands to operate on the file or directory whose name is shown to the left of the input field. To the right of the input field is shown the file size, and the date/time when the file or directory was most-recently altered:

FL panel layout 0

The image below shows an example of FL panel layout 1 operating in tree mode. This shows the file/directory names, paths, sizes, and dates/times, but has only one input field (for the current line):

FL panel layout 1

The image below shows an example of FL panel layout 2. This shows the file/directory names only, but in three-column format (more names per screen):

FL panel layout 2

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Operating Systems Supported

The FL tools are provided in variants for different operating systems:

FL variant Operating systems supported
FL for OS/2 OS/2 versions 2, 3, and 4
FL for Windows Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista

In the current release there is no version of the FL tools that runs natively on Linux. However, it is possible to run a version of FL using either DOSEMU, the HX DOS Extender, or Wine Console. Refer to this page for more information.

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User Guides

A separate user guide is provided for each tool in the FL toolset. Click the tool name below to see the relevant user guide. All of the user guides are included in the ZIP file containing the FL tools, so you do not need to view each user guide and save it to disk.

Tool name Tool purpose
FL List files and directories
FLCUST Customise profiles for FL and FLTREE
FLFIND Search one or more drives for files
FLTREE Display tree structure
FLVIEW Invoke application according to file extension
TEE Direct standard output to file and screen

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Downloading FL

Before downloading the FL tools you must read the FL Tools licence and agree to be bound by the terms and conditions specified therein.

If you agree to the terms and conditions specified in the FL Tools licence, click HERE to download the package file containing the current version of FL.

The package file is a ZIP file containing five further ZIP files – one for each supported operating system (DOS, OS/2, Windows, Linux), plus one for the documentation. The sizes of these ZIP files are shown below:

Content ZIP file Approximate
size (KBytes)
FL package FL.ZIP 846KB
FL for OS/2 FLOS2.ZIP 187KB
FL for Windows FLWIN.ZIP 232KB
FL for Linux Wine FLLIN.ZIP 1KB
Documentation FLINF.ZIP 220KB

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Installing FL

The FL tools have been packaged using the freeware 7-Zip file compression utility, but using the standard ZIP compression algorithm, which should be decompressible by all tools that support ZIP files. 7-Zip can be obtained here. To install FL:

  1. Decompress the package file that was downloaded (FL.ZIP).

  2. Decompress the tools file for the operating system that you want to use:

    • FLDOS.ZIP for DOS
    • FLOS2.ZIP for OS/2
    • FLWIN.ZIP for Windows
    • FLWIN.ZIP plus FLLIN.ZIP for Linux Wine

  3. Copy the BAT, EXE, and PRO files to a directory that resides on your default execution path. (Note: "FL for OS/2" uses CMD files instead of BAT files.)

  4. Decompress the documentation (FLINF.ZIP).

  5. Copy the HTM files to the directory where you want to store them for future reference (the HTM files do not need to reside on your execution path).

  6. To read the documentation, use your web browser to view the file FL.HTM, which is the FL main page from which all of the other pages can be accessed.

    Caution: recent versions of Windows have built-in support for ZIP files, and the Windows file manager will show the contents of the ZIP files without you having to decompress them first. If you click on FLINF.ZIP, and then on one of the HTML files (for example, FL.HTM), the file manager will start Internet Explorer (or your default web browser) to view the HTM file, but you will not be able to view any of the other HTML pages. This is because those HTML pages are still compressed, and Internet Explorer does not support ZIP files. Avoid this confusion by decompressing the ZIP files explicitly, before viewing any of the HTML pages.

  7. The FL tools have the same names for all operating systems, so if you want to use more than one operating system, the ZIP files must be decompressed into separate directories.

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Printing the Documentation

If you are using Windows Internet Explorer, and you want to print one of the user guides or one of the pages describing changes in FL, please note the following points:

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Under the terms of the FL Tools licence, you are entitled to use the FL Tools without registering as a user. However, there are two reasons why you are encouraged to register:

  1. You will be sent an email whenever a new release of FL is issued. This is not likely to be a frequent occurrence.

  2. It is a courtesy to the FL authors to inform them that you are using the FL Tools. If the FL authors think that no one is using the FL Tools, there may be no more releases.

If you wish to register as a user of the FL Tools, send your email contact details to the FL maintainer. Please note the following points:

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The following personnel have been involved in the development of FL:

Author Responsibility Date
Martin Keller Versions 1 and 2 1989-1990
Tony Lambert Version 3 1994
Clive Chapman Versions 4 and 5 1999-2008

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Further Information

To request more information about FL, report problems, or request enhancements, send an email to the FL maintainer.

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